Today we're excited to chat with McCall Hoyle, author of Meet The Sky.
Read on for more about McCall and her book, an interview, plus a giveaway!
Meet McCall Hoyle!
McCall Hoyle writes honest YA novels about friendship, first love, and girls finding the strength to overcome great challenges. She is a high school English teacher. Her own less-than-perfect teenage experiences and those of the girls she teaches inspire many of the struggles in her books. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s spending time with her family and their odd assortment of pets—a food-obsessed beagle, a grumpy rescue cat, and a three-and-a-half-legged kitten. She has an English degree from Columbia College and a master’s degree from Georgia State University. She lives in a cottage in the woods in North Georgia where she reads and writes every day. Learn more at mcallhoyle.com.
Meet Meet The Sky!
It all started with the accident. The one that caused Sophie’s dad to walk out of her life. The one that left Sophie’s older sister, Meredith, barely able to walk at all.
With nothing but pain in her past, all Sophie wants is to plan for the future—keep the family business running, get accepted to veterinary school, and protect her mom and sister from another disaster. But when a hurricane forms off the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks and heads right toward their island, Sophie realizes nature is one thing she can’t control.
After she gets separated from her family during the evacuation, Sophie finds herself trapped on the island with the last person she’d have chosen—the reckless and wild Finn Sanders, who broke her heart freshman year. As they struggle to find safety, Sophie learns that Finn has suffered his own heartbreak; but instead of playing it safe, Finn’s become the kind of guy who goes surfing in the eye of the hurricane. He may be the perfect person to remind Sophie how to embrace life again, but only if their newfound friendship can survive the storm.
Finn! Definitely Finn! I’m more like Sophie in real life—the girl trying to control everything and be perfect and a little paralyzed by losing someone she loves. But I really aspire to be Finn and hope I’m making progress. Finn has learned at a very young age to embrace life, to take risks, and as he says “to suck every last drop of life out of life.” And he has a great sense of humor, and he’s cute too!
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel ?
The story came first. When my father passed away unexpectedly, it rocked my world. I was paralyzed with grief and struggling with depression. I don’t think I realized what a bad place I was in until I had a little bit of distance between myself and that time. Dealing with grief has a way of sneaking into my writing. So I wanted to write about my experience with grief.
Sophie, my protagonist, sort of represents how I dealt with my grief in the years immediately following my father’s death. Finn sort of represents everything I learned about myself and the world after processing a lot of that grief. So I wanted to write about two teenager whose lives were both impacted by loss who had very different outlooks on life.
Sophie believes life is short and dangerous and that we better try to protect what we love and hold onto what we can. Finn believes life is short and beautiful and that we must live every moment of life to its fullest.
When they’re trapped in a hurricane on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, they learn a lot about each other and life. My father was a lot like Finn—fully alive and willing to take risks. He loved something Alfred, Lord Tennyson once said, “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” And I agree. Tennyson has lots of other beautiful poems and quotations that are woven into the fabric of Meet the Sky. In fact, the title, Meet the Sky comes from Tennyson’s poem, “The Lady of Shalott.”
Much like grief, poetry has a way of sneaking into most of my writing.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
The HarperCollins/Blink design team is genius. They’re really good at using art and color to evoke mood and theme. The title of my first book, The Thing with Feathers, comes from an Emily Dickinson poem. Dickinson says, “Hope is the thing with feathers; that perches in the soul; and sings the tune without the words; and never stops at all.” On that cover, the Blink designers used pink and orange water colors and a feather quill which evokes an uplifting and hopeful feel and alludes to my main character and Dickinson in several ways.
The title, Meet the Sky, comes from “The Lady of Shalott” by Tennyson, which has a little darker feel, and the designers used deep blues and greens and a swaying palm tree. The colors and art tie in with the hurricane element of the story as well as the grief that my characters are dealing with.
The similar fonts, the use of white space, and the ombre watercolors beautifully tie the two books together. I love, love, love my covers and can’t wait to see what direction the artistic geniuses at Blink pursue when we get to a third book.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to?
If you read my answer to the best-book-of-2018-question, I think you’ll be able to guess the answer to this question. I absolutely, positively cannot wait for January 22, 2019. That’s the day The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson releases. It’s the follow-up to Truly Devious which I love, love, loved.
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2018?
That’s a really, really hard question. I’m a high school English teacher who eats, sleeps, and breathes young adult literature. I recently re-read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in anticipation of the Netflix release this month and loved it even more the second time around. I keep revising my answer as I’m typing. I loved Puddin’, Julie Murphy’s follow up to Dumplin’. I loved The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, but here’s my final answer—Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. If you haven’t read it, stop what you’re doing right now and read it. I was captivated by the alternating time periods and story lines and could NOT put it down.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
I teach high school English at a women’s prison and am greatly inspired by my students. They are good people who mostly made one or two bad decisions or were the victims of horrible situations themselves. Most of them have children and are motivated to improve themselves in order to return to their families. The better I get to know them the more research I do on the effects of mass incarceration of women. I would really like to explore the effects of parental incarceration on kids in an upcoming novel. Fingers, toes and everything else crossed that my editor will be on board.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
All these tricky questions are making me think. I really enjoy crafting pretty sentences, so I enjoy small revisions to improve style and rhythm. But big story revisions terrify me. In my experience, they’re sort of like a house of cards. When you change one thing, it changes another and another. At some point, I always feel as if the whole thing might come crashing down. So I’m going to go with drafting. I especially like drafting the first ten-thousand or so words. This is the place in the story where I’m really getting to know my characters. The last ten-thousand words are fun too—not just because you can see the finish line but because you can really see how the character has grown and changed.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
Does sentence diagramming count? I can diagram the Pledge of Allegiance in less than ninety seconds and will gladly accept the challenge of anyone nerdy enough to challenge me in a sentence diagramming smackdown. Preamble to the Constitution? Anyone? Anyone?
Meet The Sky
By: McCall Hoyle
Release Date: September 4th, 2018
One winner will receive a signed copy of Meet The Sky (McCall Hoyle) ~ (US Only)
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