Published by Bloomsbury on January 31st 2017
For the perfect love, what would you be willing to lose?
It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods—only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.
X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. X is forbidden from revealing himself to anyone other than his prey, but he casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As they learn more about their colliding worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future.
We are so excited to be the latest stop on the blog tour for “The Edge of Everything” by Jeff Giles. It was easy to say “YES!” when we were asked to participate, because as it turns out, Jeff is not only an impressive debut YA novelist, but he was once upon a time an editor at Entertainment Weekly, which was my first employer after college. Because of that fact, my Q&A with Jeff is part regular author Q&A, part EW-style pop-culture personality quiz. Many thanks to Jeff for answering all of my questions, no matter how silly. Make sure to follow him on Twitter!
1. What’s a good elevator pitch for your book?
Jeff Giles: “A grieving Montana girl tries to help a young bounty hunter escape the underworld—and all hell breaks loose. By the way, can you press 7 for me?”
2. What inspired you to write this particular story? Did you always plan for it to be about/for young adults?
JG: Yep, it was always intended as YA. When I was an editor at Entertainment Weekly, I was continually amazed by how vibrant the genre was. The authors were doing phenomenal stuff, the readers were smart and voracious, and everybody was on the same page about the need for empathy, inclusiveness and badass female characters. The first sequence in “The Edge of Everything”—where Zoe goes into the blizzard to save her little brother and their dogs—grew out of an image that popped into my head one day when I at EW and supposed to be working.
3. The book has a cinematic feel. Did you visualize it that way? What was your writing process like?
JG: I definitely thought a lot about how movies build tension and how they lay out clues along the way. And—maybe this is weird—but sometimes I imagined that the characters were being played by actors and that if I didn’t give ALL the actors some great lines and some cool scenes, they’d get mad and quit. As for my process, once I left my job and was writing the novel full time, I made myself write 1,000 words a day no matter what. I had to write the first draft pretty quickly, and I knew I’d do nothing but nap and eat snacks if I didn’t stay on schedule.
4. I loved the relationship between Zoe and Jonah (which, by the way, is my youngest son’s name). What compelled you to make the sibling relationship so central? (I find a disproportionate number of YA books are about only children).
JG: First of all: Thank you! And also: That’s a GREAT name! Jonah is enough like my own son that, honestly, I just loved writing about him. I loved how Zoe both adored him and was so annoyed by him sometimes that she wanted to scream. That felt true-to-life to me. So that stuff flowed really easily. Jonah’s dialogue surprised even me sometimes, like when he says, “I always get warm when I’m sad—because of science.” OK, now I’m complimenting my own novel so I’m gonna shut up.
5. How did you manage to keep the insta-attraction from turning into the dreaded “instalove”?
JG: It’s funny: back when “insta-love” was called “love at first sight,” people liked it! With Zoe and X, they’re both in vulnerable places (Zoe’s just lost her dad and X has never been shown affection ever, really) so I think it makes sense that they’d fall hard. The only thing I consciously did so that it wasn’t “insta-lovey” was to make their courtship funny and awkward and weird, and to give them some realistic fights.
6. Thank you for passing the Bechdel Test! It’s always refreshing when a book can have a swoony romance AND positive female friendships.
JG: That test is genius. I’d be ashamed if I’d flunked it. By the way, Zoe’s friend Val is my daughter’s favorite character, which makes me really proud.
EW-style Personality Quiz:
1. You know Peter Jackson, and he blurbed your book, so: which movie-verse Fellowship of the Ring character do you identify with?
JG: Well, I WANT to be Aragorn or Boromir, but I actually identify with the hobbits because they’re wimpy and eat constantly.
2. Who is your literary crush?
JG: I read a million pages of the British novelist Sarah Waters while I was writing “The Edge of Everything.” Her books are rivetingly plotted and beautifully written. Plus, the way she writes about love and attraction is stunning.
3. What song is currently dominating your phone’s “most played” list?
JG: I’m loving Miranda Lambert lately, especially her new song “Vice.”
4. What are your biggest pop-culture guilty pleasures?
JG: I have been known to dip into the ’80s pop-rock catalogue sort of… constantly. But you know what show I watch regularly that is super-formulaic: “Suits.” It has a weird hold over me. In its defense, there’s one actor on the show, Rick Hoffman, who is so good as a sad-sack villain that he’s almost Shakespearean.
5. Tell us about the YA author you’d most like to have dinner with.
JG: I have to cheat here. During Book Con last year, I got to moderate a panel with Jennifer Niven, Sabaa Tahir, David Arnold, and John Corey Whaley, and they were five of the coolest, smartest, loveliest, funniest people I’ve ever been in a room with. I’d have dinner with them any time—but I’m shy, so you’d have to ask them for me.