TCR: Can you describe Away in ten words or less?
TH: Hmm. “Should there ever really be a them and an us?
TCR: How was writing Away different from writing The Line?
TH: Well, first, it was on a deadline. Second, while I was writing I was battling some serious health concerns, and that made it a bit tough. I had to ask my editor for an extension on my deadline, and she was very gracious about that. But once I got the book done, it turned out there were many parts of it I loved even more than The Line, even though The Line will always be my first book love.
TCR: What's the hardest part about writing this series? The easiest?
TH: The hardest part is staying on course. There is a bigger picture in the series, a deeper layer, and it’s important to me that I fulfill what I set out to do, which is write a trilogy that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. I think with The Line I succeeded, because many Middle School teachers are using it and the free curriculum guide (available on my web site) for their classes. They tell me the kids love the book, and that the book and curriculum guide follow learning standards they have to meet, while still provoking thoughtful discussion.
I have to say, in one of the most recent classroom visits I did, the person who set it up wrote to me afterward saying how the morning was “magical” and how she couldn’t remember “the last time it was that I had a conversation about moral courage--a good thing to talk about in a group.” Now, that may sound a bit stuffy, and frankly the word “moral” can give me pause, the way it’s being thrown around by some politicians today, but I know exactly what she meant.
The group of kids and us adults—teachers, a writer, a librarian—all sat around talking about how we come up with what we think is right, and how we could prepare ourselves to act in good ways when forced to make a choice. We talked about real-life examples of having to act if you want to do what’s right, like seeing someone hit their child in a parking lot (What would you do?). We also talked about how fear can make us all immoral, cowardly, useless. These are things I think matter, and without trying to decide for individuals what is right or wrong, I think it’s critical to have discussions about how we might arrive at our opinions, and what we would need to do to honor them with action, when we are called to do it.
TCR: What were your reactions when you first saw your book covers?
TH: The final covers have made me very happy. I think the design team at Dial does incredible work. They both invoke the atmosphere of the stories, and they jump off the shelf.
TCR: Can you tell us anything about book three?
TH: It’s set on an island. There may or may not be a sheep-cat. There is kissing. And death. And hope.
Thanks so much, Teri! You can now buy Away, which is a great sequel, and if you haven't already, check out The Line!