Hey there! Welcome back to another amazing round of #BeyondTheBio questions here at PickMyYA. Today’s guest interviewer is Brian. He’s a high school freshman who's a proud member of vocal group and is the tallest person in his family. His all-time favorite book is Laurie Halse Anderson's The Impossible Knife Of Memory.
Our guest author is McCall Hoyle, whose new book Meet The Sky just hit shelves earlier this year. She's a high school English teacher who loves animals, including her three-and-a-half-legged cat named Jim. You may know McCall from her previous book, The Thing With Feathers.
Be sure to stick around until the end of the interview for a chance to win signed copies of both of McCall's books. Let’s get to the interview!
Brian: Hello, McCall! I just finished Meet The Sky, and there were times it was so exciting that I just couldn’t put the book down. What’s your book about?
McCall: Meet the Sky, is about Sophie, a girl struggling to keep her fractured family together. Sophie’s all about sticking to the plan—keep the family business running, save money for college one day, and make sure her mom and sister don’t endure another tragedy—but when a hurricane forms off the coast of the Outer Banks, Sophie realizes nature is one thing she can’t control. She ends up stranded in the middle of the storm with Finn, the boy who broke her heart freshman year.
Brian: Sophie isn't very social and only has a few friends. What would you tell teens who feel alone?
McCall: I would say that it’s perfectly normal to feel alone in this chaotic world. If it’s causing anxiety or depression, I’m a firm believer in the benefits of a good counselor. But there are a bunch of us who actually enjoy time alone but are sort of shamed or looked down on by an American society that seems to value loud outspokenness over quiet thoughtfulness. If you’re an artistic person who enjoys quiet, solitude, I say embrace it, chart your own course, and quit worrying about what other people think.
I wish I could go back and re-do middle and high school and do what I enjoyed instead of pursuing what I thought my parents, teachers, and friends thought I should enjoy.
Brian: Zeke’s a one-of-a-kind character. Where did you get the idea for his unique personality?
McCall: Zeke is sort of a mashup of a bunch of people from my own life, especially a beloved uncle who struggled with alcoholism. He also symbolizes some of the lessons that Sophie has to learn about herself and life. He definitely marches to his own tune and has learned to quit trying to control everything and sort of go with the flow.
Brian: I loved reading about the sand dunes on the beach because I’ve never seen a sand dune myself. How old were you the first time you saw a sand dune?
McCall: I grew up in the South and have been going to East Coast beaches for as long as I can remember. I was probably about two the first time I bobbled across my first sand dune. I actually lived on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where my first two books are set, after I graduated from college.
If you ever have a chance to visit, they are even more ruggedly beautiful than the way I describe them in my books. Words cannot really do them justice. You need to see them with your own eyes and feel them with your own hands and feet. Brian: I know that you’re a fellow pet lover. I’m always playing with my dogs or watching my turtles walk around. How do you include your love for animals in your books?
McCall: Animals have been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a child, my pets were really my best friends. Dogs love so unconditionally. They don’t get involved in drama, and they forgive pretty much everything. Because animals have been such an important part of my life, I think I just sort of naturally include them in my stories. In my first book, The Thing with Feathers, the main character’s seizure alert dog is her best friend and plays an important role in her emotional development. In Meet the Sky, the wild horses on the Outer Banks of North Carolina play an important role in Sophie’s emotional development, especially when she has to try to rescue one with a hurricane barreling down on everyone and everything she loves.
I’m currently writing a book for a bit younger audience told from an adorable beagle’s point of view. I’m not sure how the future will unfold, but I’m pretty sure animals, especially dogs, will continue to play an important role in the stories I write.
Brian: At one point, Finn and Sophie played a game of "Truth Or Dare?" and shared their most embarrassing moment. What’s your most embarrassing moment?
McCall: Probably the first time I went snow skiing with a friend and her family. To say that I am un-athletic is the understatement of the century. I think I was in eighth grade. My friend’s super good looking high school brother was with us. I’d never skied before and could not get up the bunny slope. I would hold on to the tow rope thing that’s supposed to pull you up the miniscule hill, but you’re supposed to sort of lean back I think. I just had a death grip on the rope, so my upper body would go forward. But my skis kept dragging behind. Halfway up the hill, I admitted defeat, dropped the rope, and turned to come back down the hill. But I didn’t know how to stop, and you build up odd amounts of speed coming down that tiny hill.
Somehow I managed to ski past super-handsome-older-brother-dude, across a concrete sidewalk at the bottom of the slope, and halfway into the men’s bathroom in the ski lift hut. I literally had one ski in the bathroom and one outside on the sidewalk, with my ski pole sort of bent around the corner.
It was horrific. I have some other pretty embarrassing moments, but that’s definitely one of the top ten.
Brian: What other books would you recommend to people who liked Meet The Sky?
McCall: Readers who like emotionally driven, contemporary stories with a bit of romance, would also enjoy anything by Susane Colasanti, Sarah Dessen, Morgan Matson, and Kasie West. They are some of my all-time favorite authors.
That’s it for today’s interview with McCall. If you're a book-loving teen like Brian, click here to learn how to host an upcoming #BeyondTheBio interview. It's an easy and fun way for teens like you to connect with your favorite authors and to grow in your own writing abilities. Plus, it looks great on your college applications!
And don't forget to enter this week's giveaway! We’re teaming up with McCall to give one lucky winner signed copies of both her books. You can enter the giveaway by clicking on the image below. Good luck!