Ask the Author: McCall Hoyle
What would you like readers to know about you?
Because I struggled to grow up and find my place in this oftentimes chaotic and frightening world, it’s really important to me to write stories that deliver hopeful messages. I want readers to believe that no matter how difficult their lives are today, there is always a chance, no matter how slim, that their circumstances might improve tomorrow. I’m not so naive that I believe the world is all cupcakes and rainbows or that we’re all guaranteed a happily-ever-after, but I do share Anne Frank’s belief that “in spite of everything… people are basically good at heart.”
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
Meet the Sky is a story of love, letting go, and the unstoppable power of nature. It’s a story about a girl named Sophie who’s struggling to keep her fractured family together. She’s all about sticking to the plan, keeping the family business running, saving money for college, and making 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.
What has been your inspiration for writing your book?
Meet the Sky is all about learning to deal with grief and learning to embrace life even in the midst of great heartache. My father’s unexpected death was the most traumatic experience of my life. I let it paralyze me emotionally for several years, which is the last thing my father would have wanted. Writing about my grief and talking with other people with similar experiences finally helped me to move on. I wish I would have learned how to do that in a healthy way much sooner. Meet the Sky is essentially about two people–both grieving the loss of someone or something they love–learning to take risks of the heart and learning to fully engage in life.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
I love animals and include them in everything I write. Some of my best friends have been dogs, cats, and horses. So, any time I get to write a scene with an animal–like the wild horse rescue scene in Meet the Sky or any of the scenes with the main character’s service dog in The Thing with Feathers, I’m in my happy place. Animals might not be able to talk, but they can definitely communicate, and I love writing about them and their facial expressions and their emotions.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
I have always loved reading. But when I was a kid, there wasn’t a tremendous amount of young adult fiction to choose from. I basically went from reading Nancy Drew to Stephen King without anything in between. I really fell in love with young adult literature when I started teaching eighth grade about thirteen years ago. When I started reading books like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen, I fell head over hills in love and began devouring their books. At the same time, I was learning to teach young adults how to write and fine-tuning my own writing as well. Writing and reading alongside my students, inspired me to get serious about telling my own stories.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Writing is a lot like exercise. You have to do it regularly in order to build up stamina. So my greatest bit of advice is to get into the routine of writing. Set aside a scheduled amount of time that you will write every single day even if it’s as little as fifteen or twenty minutes–that and read like your life depends on it. Read and write everything you can get your hands on, and be persistent.