K B HOYLE INTERVIEW
I want to thank Ms. Hoyle for answering my questions. Though I wanted to ask many things, I tried to keep it generic enough so as to avoid spoilers. Following the interview, read on to see my review of the White Thread.
I love fantasy but I can’t write it. My ideas just never come together. How did you come up with the idea for this series? Did it just come to you, with many details fully formed, or did you get a basic idea and then sit down and flesh out the details?
The idea for this series definitely came to me with many details fully formed. I knew that I wanted to create a fantasy story based on the camp I attended every summer (from the time I was a baby into my college years). The camp, located in the upper peninsula of Michigan, is such an isolated and magical place all on its own that I knew I already had my setting in place. My idea was to create a fantasy land that paralleled a fictionalized version of the real camp. I know that probably sounds a little crazy, but it gave me all sorts of real material to draw from—and not only in the setting, but in the relationships between characters and some of the events in the stories. Of course, there were (and still are) many, many details to flesh out, but having the real-life basis gives me so many real memories from which to draw. People always say to write what you know, and that’s worked out very well for me!
I love how the summer camp is the background and how places in Alitheia reflect the summer camp. You put so many details about the camp that it feels real. Is the camp based on a real place?
As I mentioned above, it is based on a real camp, although I would like to stress that it is fictionalized. I changed all of the names and played around with some of the dimensions and whatnot, but anybody who has been there would be able to tell from reading the books what camp it really is.
Darcy has matured a great deal over the series, and I’m sure we’ll see more of that as the series progresses. How about the rest of the Six? Will they have their moments to shine? Particularly Samantha and Amelia?
I like to think that I’ve given them each at least little moments to shine. The thing is, though, Darcy is the main character, and the story is told in 3rd person limited from her perspective, so the journey the reader ultimately experiences is hers. All of the characters will definitely mature, but I don’t think the reader will feel those changes as acutely as they feel Darcy’s because I’m not taking them inside their brains. This is probably with one exception, but I’m not going to give that away.
I am utterly captivated by Narks, and Yahto Veli is my favorite character. Tell me about Narks. I’ve never read anything else with such a creative character type. How did you come up with a character like that, day and night form sharing one body?
The seed of the idea that became the narks came from a form letter I used to fill out at camp. It was one of those deals where it was a pre-typed letter home where you could circle the options for each statement (many of the options being silly options), and the last statement on the letter was something like, “Well, I have to go now because…” and one of the options to end this statement was, “…the night narks are coming to get me.” As a child, I just thought this sounded so funny, even though I had no idea what a nark was. I remembered this phrase when I set about creating a unique fantasy creature for The Gateway Chronicles (because every fantasy novel worth its salt has to introduce a new fantasy creature). I wanted the narks to be elf-like as a nod to Tolkien, and it only logically followed that if there were night narks, then there must also be day narks. Then I just set about brainstorming from there. I don’t know why they ended up sharing the same body; I guess it just seemed right to me. On a side note, I finally asked one of my camp friends a few years ago what the actual night narks were, and she laughed and told me that it is just the term for the counselors whose job it is to enforce curfew.
The Oracle is reminiscent of mythology. Are there other elements of mythology that will play a significant role in the story?
The Oracle is reminiscent of mythology, and that was 100% on purpose. I teach ancient history, which obviously includes a lot of mythology, so I have the basis of knowledge to handle it well I think. Furthermore, I’ve been captivated by mythology since I was a little girl, particularly the myths of the Greeks and the Romans. I believe good literature tends to be based on something that came before, so I wanted to include many established mythological elements. So yes, there are other elements of mythology that play significant roles, particularly in The White Thread, but I won’t name them. It’s much more fun for readers to be able to figure them out on their own!
Your teenagers are very believable, particularly as one views them from the first book to now. Do you have teenaged kids or have you spent a lot of time around teens? Will the other characters besides Darcy show so much growth throughout the series?
I’m glad my teenagers are very believable, but goodness, no, I do not have teenaged kids, lol. I will someday have three teenaged sons, but at the moment they are only 5, 3, and 3 months. I do teach teenagers, however—I teach 8th and 10th grades. I obviously pull a lot of mannerisms from my observations of them, but I also just plain remember being a teenager. For some reason, those years are still very vivid for me, and I’ve projected a lot of myself into Darcy, particularly her failings in book 1 as a 13-14 year old. In my opinion, Darcy was the most flawed of the six of them in the beginning, so she has the most maturing to go through, but the others will go through growth and change as well, just in different ways.
There’s much more I want to know, but it would all be in the way of spoilers. Is there any tidbits or teasers you can give for the next book or the rest of the series?
Hmmm… I don’t mind saying that the reader should pay attention to Colin Mackaby. Also, for the girls who crave a little romance, the romance is coming! But in typical teenaged fashion, it doesn’t go nearly as smoothly as the characters would hope for.
And now, my review!
The White Thread
By K. B. Hoyle
Book Three in the Gateway Chronicles
I was thrilled to get a copy of this book, and I read it in a day, carrying my Kindle around with me everywhere I went, doing laundry and other household chores. I didn’t answer the phone, didn’t read anything else, didn’t care about email, I was just lost in the spell of Alitheia.
In this third installment of the Gateway Chronicles, the six teenagers from our world return to the family summer camp and thence to the gateway leading them back to Alitheia. And I was ready, eager to jump back into the land and the adventures we would all find there.
The book is mostly caught up with the events of trying to save a beloved Aletheian friend from the fate that befell them in the previous book. But this time, the Six go together, along with Tellius and Rubidius and other familiar Alitheians. They meet with new dangers and new friends along the way. We have a group of six fifteen-year-old teenagers, so we do get a bit of typical teenage angst and craziness, but it really works, and the author does not overdo it in any way. Prince Tellius has grown up greatly in this book, and I think I enjoyed him more than almost anyone in the story. Darcy has really matured by this book, and she was a delight to read and follow as she desperately tries to save a friend.
I think this is my favorite book so far in the series, except that the first book is usually my favorite as it is what introduced me to the wonders of this new world and the characters I came to love so deeply. At the end, I was saying, out loud, repeatedly, “No, no, no, no! It can’t be over!”
The Gateway Chronicles, what can I say? They are magical, wondrous. They make me believe again, make me want to go on adventures and save a different land, make me want to meet all the characters. And Now, I wait, eagerly, and not very patiently, for the next book. But in the meantime, I think about the story and the characters. I wonder what they’ll do, how they’ll save Alitheia, what will happen to them and where the gateway will take them next time. I even worry about the character from our world who is being seduced by the dark evil, joining Darcy in her concern for him, even though he’s not one of the Six.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, the last time I had such a strong draw to a series was to the Harry Potter series. I couldn’t stop thinking about them between books, wondering what on earth would happen next. The Gateway Chronicles does the same thing to me, living in my heart and mind long after the final word. And I really think I need to go back and start the series over from book one!