Note: My answers may contain some spoilers for the book—please don’t read this if you haven’t finished the book!
How did you get the idea for this book?
I usually say that I got the idea from a birthday card that made a joke about how it’s a good thing that people get older, rather than younger because… (get ready to laugh)… who would want to go through puberty twice? (If you’re a kid going through puberty right now, I bet you aren’t laughing.) It is true that that card inspired me to think seriously about what it would be like to go through the teen years after having been a grown-up, and to think that that would be an interesting idea for a book. But I saw that birthday card during a summer when I was already thinking a lot about age and aging and death and dying. My grandmother had just had her ninetieth birthday party, and I was appropriately awed at how much time and how many experiences she had lived through. And my husband and kids and I had just gone to visit his grandmother in Kentucky, shortly before her death. She knew she was dying; we knew she was dying; it was odd to sit there thinking, “This is a last time we’ll ever see each other on this Earth.” So maybe writing Turnabout was my way of saying, “No, no, wait, maybe there’s another way…”
What will happen to Melly and Anny Beth when they hit zero?
I really don’t know. I think it would be most likely that, unless they had another injection of something like PT-1 (PT-3, maybe?) they would die at that point. That’s one of the reasons I don’t give an exact answer in the book, because that would be a very depressing ending. (Although, if you think about it, everyone dies eventually, and Melly and Anny Beth would have had a lot of extra time in their lives.) I think how you live your life is much more important than how long. And in their second chance at life, Melly and particularly Anny Beth did try to make up for mistakes they made the first time around.
Are you going to write a sequel to this book?
I have thought about it. When I was about halfway finished with Turnabout, I thought of an entirely different way to write about the concept of unaging, and decided that that might work in a sequel. But so far I’ve always had other books I’ve wanted to write instead, so I don’t see myself writing a sequel anytime soon.