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Thursday, March 20, 2014

(MMGM) Maureen McQuerry, author of Beyond the Door {Review, Interview, Giveaway}

I'm so excited to have Maureen McQuerry stopping by the March MG Madness today for a fun chat! Check out our Interview, my Review, and enter the awesome Giveaway below...

Beyond the Door
(Time Out of Time #1)
by Maureen McQuerry

With his love of learning and the game of Scrabble, Timothy James feels like the only person who understands him is his older sister, Sarah, and he’s fairly certain nothing interesting will ever happen to him. But one night, while his parents and sister are away, the door opens and everything changes: mythical creatures appear in his own living room! Soon, a mystery of unparalleled proportions begins to unfold, revealing an age old battle of Light against Dark, and Timothy must embark on a quest to prevent the Dark from controlling the future and changing the past. But he can’t complete the quest alone. Timothy must team up with his sister and the school bully, Jessica to face an ancient evil and in the process, this unlikely trio discover they are each more than meets the eye.

Maureen Doyle McQuery’s Beyond the Door is a fresh, fast-paced middle-grade fantasy, with relatable young characters and great storytelling!

Smart, Scrabble-loving Timothy James and his older sister, Sarah, find themselves in the middle of an ancient war between the Light and Dark. Mythical creatures and lore become reality as the door between worlds and time opens, and it’s up to Timothy James, Sarah, school bully, Jessica, and the help of some new magical friends, to hold back the Dark. The three young heroes embark on a perilous journey full of thrills, chills, and self-discovery.

Beyond the Door is the first book in McQuerry’s new Time Out Of Time series, and what a fun first book it is! McQuerry has woven an exciting tale full of fascinating lore, beautiful settings, endearing characters, and engaging storytelling. I found the mythological and magical elements in Beyond the Door to be so captivating and unique. From a Star Girl to a tree man, flying wolf, portways to other places, and a bounty of magic, Beyond the Door is lushly whimsical and enchanting. From the colorful, magical Market to the dark, spine-tingling home of the evil Balor, McQuerry vividly builds this magical world and takes readers on a breathless journey to some unforgettable places.

As enthralling as the fantasy and world-building elements are, what I really connected with are the young characters. Smart, misfit Timothy James is such an endearing, likable young hero, and I love fierce, protective, and loyal Sarah. Their sibling relationship and bond is so beautifully and realistically rendered. Popular bully, Jessica, really surprised me with how much she grows and evolves throughout the story. I really loved seeing all three young characters come into their own and become the heroes and heroines they’re destined to be. These are characters that young readers will easily connect with and root for.

Beyond the Door concludes in the most thrilling and surprising way, that left me so excited and impatient for book two!

My Final Thoughts: With enthralling fantasy elements, engaging characters,and engrossing storytelling, Beyond the Door is a wonderful first book in what is sure to be a well loved and read series!


What three words best describe Beyond the Door?
Mystery, adventure, and magic

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give Beyond the Door a try?

When mysterious creatures show up in Timothy’s living room, he finds himself part of a quest that involves: cracking a secret Ogham code on an ancient map, flying on a wolf’s back to escape wild hounds, battling an evil rat and escaping from a mechanical cage  to prevent the Dark from controlling mankind’s future and reshaping the past.

Grab a copy of Beyond the Door and answer the following:
favorite chapter? 
I think it’s chapter 16 “Come into the Storm” because everything changes then. The normal world is left behind and the children really do go into a storm…or maybe it’s 38  “Battle of the Trees.” I’ve always been a fan of trees coming to life and these trees are warriors.

favorite page? 
The bottom of every page that has the secret Ogham script to decode

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentence teaser?
“The hooded figure took a step towards the lighted living room. A raspy hum rose like a swarm of bees from behind its mask. Something squirmed in the pillowcase.”

What inspired Beyond the Door? How did the story come to be? 

We were visiting our daughter who was studying in Oxford, England and on the ceiling in an old church a face was looking down at me. It had leaves for hair and vines coming out of his nose and mouth. I began to wonder what it would be like to turn into a tree and the Greenman became the first character in the story.

There are some memorable characters in Beyond the Door, do you have a favorite? What do you love about him/her? Did any of your characters end up surprising even you with the way they turned out? 

Gwydon. Gwydon looks a lot like a big dog we used to have named Bear. He was a golden retriever, Chow mix. Now think of him as wolf with golden fur and eyes.  In myth Gwydon is a shapeshifter and perhaps the best storyteller in the world. Timothy gets to fly on Gwydon and yet Gwydon never becomes a pet. He’s wise, but unpredictable.

If you opened your bedroom door and, instead of your room, you found a magical portal, where would you want it to lead and why?

Like Sam Gamgee, I’d like to see the elves. Because who wouldn’t want to see elves?

As a middle-grade author, why do you think middle-grade is so important? What do you love about writing and reading middle-grade? 

Middle graders are not cynical readers. They are still open to wonder, mystery and adventure. They’re playful. And they are beginning to ask all the big questions that come on full force in YA, who am I, why am I here, what does life mean?

What is your all time favorite middle-grade book, middle-grade hero, and middle-grade heroine? 

So hard! I l still love Ann Shirley and her scope for the imagination, and I also love Madeline L’Engle’s Meg Murray. As for heroes: Doug from Okay for Now, and certain hairy- footed hobbit who never planned to be a burglar. And of course there’s Harry.

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at imagining making brownies and eating coconut ice cream.

I’m really embarrassed to admit that I still get scared of things that go bump in the night.

The last great book I read was Reread: Griffin & Sabine. New read: Eleanor & Park.

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by Beyond the Door, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?

In the middle of a forest you can find small 3 petalled flowers that look like white stars. They are trilliums. I would bake trillium cakes. They would be dense and rich like the forest, chocolate with a touch of lavender. And small trillium flower on top.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Maureen!

Writers are like crows. They collect shiny objects that capture their attention and hide them away. Maureen has been collecting interesting bits since she was six and decided she wanted to be a writer. Like all interesting journeys, the road to her goal took many twists and turns along the way: teaching middle grade through college, coordinating a program for gifted students, marrying and raising her own two children, traveling the world, and all the while writing in the spaces in between. 
Maureen’s published works include The Peculiars,(Abrams/Amulet) a YASLA, Bank Street, Horn Book and Westchester YA best  book;  Nuclear Legacy, (Battelle Press) an Independent Publisher’s Award winner and numerous poems in literary journals. Her next books, Beyond the Door and The Telling Stone (Abrams/Amulet), are due out in spring and fall 2014.
Whenever she has the opportunity, Maureen loves to present to students in the schools, share her love of language and books, and encourage them to follow their passions. Maureen works with teachers to tailor workshops to specific writing goals.  She is also a frequent presenter at writing conferences.
Maureen grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area before it became Silicon Valley and now lives in WA State near the banks of the Columbia River with her husband. Eagles, wood ducks, a friendly owl and raccoons visit her yard. When she’s not writing or teaching, Maureen’s always hoping for a real life mystery to solve.

Win a hardcover copy of Beyond the Door and two beautiful handpainted Greenman bookmarks!
Amulet and Maureen McQuerry have awesomely donated one book and two bookmarks for one winner.
-US only
-ends 3/31
-must be 13+
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes
Fill out the Rafflecopter form:


Jillyn said...

This sounds like a cute read. I'd definitely connect to a character who loves Scrabble!

Michelle @ In Libris Veritas said...

The cover is so amazing!This sounds really cute, and I love that the main character loves Scrabble. :P

Orchid said...

And another great sounding middle grade title to add to my list. I am just loving all these wonderful books you've been talking about.