Today I welcome the fabulous Jess Shirvington to the blog as part of the blog tour for her latest contemporary-sorta standalone novel, Between the Lives, which came out in stores on the 1st of this month (May, 2013). I for one was excited for Between the Lives as Jess is one of those authors that I will read anything of – that was truly after the magnificence that was Endless, book four in the Violet Eden Chapters – and when I saw that work had received an uncorrected proof… I just had to pull a sneaky and take it. Anything to read something by Jess, and like I said: Blame Endless.
Jess will be discussing the “science” or rules behind the shifting of lives that Sabine experiences in Between the Lives, with explanations for why Jess decided to use such a device and difficulties or achievements she encountered. For a list of other blog stops on this tour click on the banner above and you’ll be directed to Jess’s blog post with the information and links for the other blogs and posts.
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The Rules of Shifting
The concept of having two lives developed more from the themes and content I wanted to include than specifically wanting to have an otherworldly element. In many ways, I view this book as a psychological thriller/contemporary fiction though I know others would describe it as sci-fi because of the dual realities.
When I first came up with the idea of moving between two lives I spent a lot of time working out what all the rules would be. I considered absence in one world, time replay (as in she has the exact same reality but she just rewinds within it – like a groundhog day). I considered the exact same world and two different families where she actually existed twice within the one world. Basically, my mind ran amuck with all the possibilities. But in the end I chose two separate realities of which neither is dissimilar to our own world – the same, same, different approach. Part of the reason why I chose this was because I didn’t want the sci-fi element to overtake the more important story thread: Sabine, her choices and what is happening in her lives when she is not paying attention.
Once I had decided this, it was just a matter of looking at all the angles and setting the rules – what would cross over? What wouldn’t? Will she have perfect memory? Will she look the same? Will she feel or experience anything during the shift? Is it painful? Can she move things between her worlds? What elements of her two worlds are similar? Is the weather always the same? It was a long list!
At the same time, I was aware that there was always a question mark. The story is written from Sabine’s point of view. She appears trustworthy as a narrator, and yet, there are times readers will consider questioning her in the same way other characters do within her story. Is she really shifting between worlds? Why doesn’t anyone else? Is it possible that they are right, that Sabine is actually insane?
It was important to me as a writer that within the rules of her shifting that there was this possibility. Sabine is sure of her existence – both of them – but are we? Does she do enough to prove beyond any doubt that she is living this fantastical life? Could Dr Levi’s diagnosis be correct? One of the best things about this story is that by writing it from Sabine’s point of view, I only ever had to explore it through her mind so in the end, even I can’t answer those questions completely.
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So there you have it. Wasn’t that interesting? I sure wouldn’t want to be Sabine, that’s for certain.
Above all else, though I try not to think about it, I know which life I prefer. And every night when I Cinderella myself from one life to the next a very small, but definite, piece of me dies. The hardest part is that nothing about my situation has ever changed. There is no loophole.
Until now, that is…
For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she Shifts to her ′other′ life – a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she′s a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she′s considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other.
With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments which bring her dangerously close to the life she′s always wanted… But just what – and who – is she really risking?