I was lucky enough to be able to do a Q&A with the author to go with this review. She is so lovely and it was great to ask her the burning questions I had after reading this book.
This is the second book in the Gateway trilogy. To see my review of the first book please click here. I really loved the first one and I loved this one just as much. A lot of the questions that I had from the first book were answered in this book and about half way through it became wonderfully intense and action packed. I couldn’t read it fast enough. Jess and her sister Hannah are studying the art of opening Gateways for spirits who want to cross to the ‘other side’. It is their birth right but they didn't know until the beginning of the first book. So it follows their journey of learning what is expected of them.
What I really enjoyed in this book was getting to know the two contrasting characters Jess and Hannah. In Jess we see a ‘normal’ person who is still grappling with the fact that ghosts/spirits exist and it is really refreshing to read that because it adds a layer of realism to her character. This makes her much more relatable than someone who has known about this all along as we would be playing catch up but instead we are learning with her. With Hannah, she has always known that spirits existed but she didn't know why, so her outlook and personality is completely different to Jess. It was an excellent representation of how our past shapes our reaction to experiences. It was interesting to see that she is portrayed as the most powerful of the two sisters and I found that unique in this genre as most of the time it is the protagonist that is the most powerful and the centre of attention. It was impressive that we got a well rounded knowledge of both the characters even though it was only told from one of their perspectives.
I have to admit I did find the beginning of the book a bit slow as I feel that the whole 'school bully' idea is just wearing a bit thin for me now but then the action started and I was gripped and couldn't stop reading. There are many different plot lines weaving through this book and I think that the world building and the whole way in which the author has constructed the ‘gateway/spirit’ world in this book is really vivid, in depth and captivating. I've already started the third book in this series and can’t wait to see how it ends. It is rare that I enjoy a second book as much as the first but I did with this series.
- I love your main character’s sense of humour. Does that reflect your own or someone you know? Jess’s sense of humour does reflect my own, in the sense that we are both sarcastic, but she is much bolder about actually saying what she thinks than I am, and often lets her anger get the better of her. So I would say Jess is a bit like me, with no filter and a much quicker temper.
- Have you always wanted to be writer? Yes, ever since I was a little girl. I used to write “books” on the pads of paper my father brought home from work. I wish I still had some of them, as I’m sure I’d find them very amusing now!
- Do you remember the first story that you ever wrote? I vaguely remember a story I wrote as a very small child about a girl who rescued a baby deer in the woods and kept it as a pet. I also remember the first story I ever wrote for school, a scary story about a girl who discovers the identity of a ghost that haunts an old abandoned tower. I guess my penchant for the paranormal began quite early.
- What is it that appeals to you specifically about writing Young Adult fiction? I like the accessibility of YA fiction. I also feel strongly, as a former high school teacher, that teenagers need literature they can sink their teeth into and protagonists they can look up to and relate to. Adolescence can be a very difficult and tumultuous time. If a young woman can pick up a book and read about a girl who faces enormous challenges and overcomes them, she may realize she can do the same.
- Do you think you’ll branch out into another genre? Perhaps adult fantasy? I do have a concept for a series I am excited to start work on that combines elements of magic, period drama, and even a bit of sci-fi, set in an alternate past London. I like to read a lot of different genres, so I look forward to exploring them with my writing as well.
- I absolutely love Milo, is he based on anyone you know? Milo is one of my favorites, too. No, he is a total invention, and a happy accident, I might add. Milo began as a device of necessity. I needed someone to give Jess information about where to go while searching for Hannah inside New Beginnings, and it made sense for that someone to be a ghost. So I created Milo, not intending him to become a major character, but I just adored him so much! He demanded to be taken along for the ride, and I just couldn’t refuse him! You know Milo: he will NOT be ignored!
- As being a twin is central to the books, have you known any twins or do you have to do a lot of research into them? Do you think that they actually have psychic powers? Two of my very best friends in the world are twins. (They will, of course, tell you that the characters of Hannah and Jess are based on them, but this is not strictly true.) However, I did learn a lot about the very unique bond between twins from living with them and being friends with them. I’m not sure about truly psychic powers, but their abilities to know what the other was thinking or about to say are certainly uncanny. It is undoubtedly a very unique bond.
- Have you ever had a ‘paranormal experience’? Do you believe in ghosts at all? I’ve never had a definitive paranormal experience, but I am certainly open to and curious about the existence of ghosts. My husband and I have a list of haunted locations we would like to visit.
- When I read the scene in the first book where the students have to try and guess what is under the sheet on the chair, I actually re-enacted this with my friends. I was wrong. I thought this was so interesting and really good to read. So I’d love to know what was your inspiration for this scene? I attended a talk at a library about ghost hunting, and the presenter conducted a similar experiment with the audience. It completely fascinated me, and I immediately began adapting it for the scene in Pierce’s classroom. And in case you are wondering, no, I had no idea what was under the cloth either. I am decidedly not psychic.
- I’d love to know what are you currently working on at the moment? I am hard at work on the first book in a new series, the details of which will be released very soon on eeholmes.com and also on my author pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. I think readers of the Gateway Trilogy will be very excited!