McCall Hoyle writes honest YA novels about friendship, first love, and girls finding the strength to overcome great challenges. She is a high school English teacher. Her own less-than-perfect teenage experiences and those of the girls she teaches inspire many of the struggles in her books. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s spending time with her family and their odd assortment of pets—a food-obsessed beagle, a grumpy rescue cat, and a three-and-a-half-legged kitten. She has an English degree from Columbia College and a master’s degree from Georgia State University. She lives in a cottage in the woods in North Georgia where she reads and writes every day.
You have an awesome new book coming out this year called The Thing With Feathers Can you tell us about it? How you came up with the idea? When is it released?
The Thing with Feathers is the story of sixteen-year-old Emilie Day, an epileptic teen leaving her safe, homeschooled life for high school on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. For the first time, Emilie must navigate classes, cliques, and crushes, all the while keeping her epilepsy a secret.
The idea for this book really started with the coolest dog in the universe—a golden retriever named Chip. He was bred to be an assistant dog and spent the first weeks of his life being conditioned along with dogs that would grow up to be assistants. In a weird twist of fate, he ended up with my family. I became fascinated by these beautiful, kind-hearted, devoted, dogs that would literally risk their lives for their humans’. I wanted to explore this bond between handler and dog, and Emilie and Hitch were born followed by a swoon-worthy love interest and a swoon-worthy setting.
The Thing with Feathers releases September 5, 2017 from Blink/HarperCollins.
What made you decide to start writing, and why did you choose children’s books?
I currently teach high school but taught middle school for many years. I’m inspired daily by the teenage girls who I teach. They’re witty and smart and strong and beautiful but don’t always see themselves that way. I wanted to write a story about a girl who is forced to choose between defining herself on her own terms and defining herself by society’s terms. I hope readers will find themselves rooting for Emilie the way I root for the girls in my life.
What writing advice do you have for someone trying to breakout in the market?
Write. Write. Write. Don’t become obsessed with thinking about writing, reading about writing, and taking classes about writing. All of those things are wonderful, but nothing takes the place of the actual writing and the productive struggling and learning that comes from drafting and revising and drafting and revising.
Then celebrate *every* success—the first time you finish a manuscript, the first time you query an agent, your first rejection. Celebrate everything! All those little “failures” are required stepping stones on the path to success.
Everyone writes about people they know. Who shows up in your books over and over?
Oddly, it’s the animals I’ve known and loved that keep making their way into my work. I’ve already mentioned Chip, the dog of my heart. In the book I’m currently working on, the wild ponies that fascinated me on the Outer Banks of North Carolina have made their way to the page and keep reappearing, and a super, cool, three-and-a-half legged cat named Jim who adopted my family and refused to be un-adopted demands to be included in my current story.
When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I love running with my teacher friends. It’s more of a really sad, slow jog that we call “slogging”. But hey, we’re on our feet and moving. And we pretty much solve all of the problems of the world while we’re out there. No one really listens to us, but we know we have the answers.
And of course, I read voraciously—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, young adult, picture books, the American Literature I teach, cereal boxes. You name it. I read it.
Where can we find out more about you and your upcoming book?