Interview With Nora Shalaway Carpenter, Author Of THE EDGE OF ANYTHING
May 10th, 2020 by Liza Wiemer

Buying links: IndieBound | B & N | Amazon | Book Depository

About The Edge of Anything from Goodreads:

Len is a loner teen photographer haunted by a past that’s stagnated her work and left her terrified she’s losing her mind. Sage is a high school volleyball star desperate to find a way around her sudden medical disqualification. Both girls need college scholarships. After a chance encounter, the two develop an unlikely friendship that enables them to begin facing their inner demons.

But both Len and Sage are keeping secrets that, left hidden, could cost them everything, maybe even their lives.

Set in the North Carolina mountains, this dynamic #ownvoices novel explores grief, mental health, and the transformative power of friendship.


Question: Share with readers a novel secret—something that readers will never know just from picking up the book.

The first name of Sage’s primary care doctor is Nhu-Mai. The character is named after one of my in-real-life best friends. 😊

Question: This is an #ownvoices novel. Can you share how your own experience influenced this book?

Yes, the book is #ownvoices in terms of mental health, because Len’s character suffers from severe (an undiagnosed) obsessive compulsive disorder, a condition that, unfortunately, I have also experienced. While my OCD is much more manageable now, thanks to medicine and lots of hard work in therapy, at one point I thought it would completely destroy me. It came close, I’ll tell you that, especially before I had a diagnosis and didn’t know what was happening to me. 

I’m a writer, so as I began to heal, I knew that in order to process what I’d been through, I had to write about it—not the actual, real life details of my personal situation, but the feelings and emotions the experience brought out: the utter despair that I’d somehow brought this on myself and would never again be okay. That I wasn’t trying hard enough to get better. That despite having loving people around me like my husband, I was totally, horrifyingly alone. 

I also wanted to explore the kind of friendship that could pull a person through such a hellish experience, and how such a friendship is established. 

The Edge of Anything is the book I’d longed for during my own darkest days. No one needs to be told life isn’t fair. But I think we do all need to hear that sometimes we are not okay, and that itself is okay and not something that should shame or devalue a person. We are all loveable and beautiful—just as we are, even if we are undergoing a serious, behavior-altering health condition. And we all need to hear that there’s hope. 

Bonus round:

What do you prefer?

Laundry, dishes, dusting, vacuuming? NONE OF THE ABOVE! LOL. Gosh, I hate cleaning. But I’d choose laundry if I have to pick one.

Flying, sailing, walking, driving? Walking. I love connecting with nature.

Movies at home or movies in a theater? Theater

Peas, carrots, brussels sprouts, spinach? Carrots!

Watch baseball, football, soccer, tennis, ice skating or gymnastics Football, even though I hope my kids never play. But I grew up watching it with my family and so have so many good memories around it. My favorite sport to watch, though, is volleyball.

About Nora:

A graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program, Nora Shalaway Carpenter is the author of THE EDGE OF ANYTHING, contributing editor of RURAL VOICES: 15 AUTHORS CHALLENGE ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT SMALL-TOWN AMERICA (Candlewick, Oct 13, 2020), and author of the picture book YOGA FROG (Running Press). Originally from rural West Virginia, she currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her husband, three young children, and the world’s most patient dog and cat. Follow her on Instagram @noracarpenterwrites and Twitter @norawritesbooks. Learn more at noracarpenterwrites.com.

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