An Interview with Teri Hall (& A Giveaway!)

courtneybooks, interviews

It will probably not be long (read: it’s going to be EXTREMELY SOON) before I’m disappearing to do some intense work on Book 3 (and I mean I will really be disappearing… more), so I thought I would pre-emptively make up for my impending absence and also my past absence by treating you guys to an interview with an amazing author that includes an easy-peasy giveaway of said amazing author’s amazing book. Yeah, that’s right. Today, on the blog–THIS BLOG!–I would like to welcome Teri Hall! And I would also like to give you the chance to win her book!

This book:

Isn’t that cover amazing? It is like glow-in-the-dark without actually being glow-in-the-dark. And the story is JUST as glow-in-the-dark which is my fancy way of saying it is compelling and unputdownable. Here’s the summary from GoodReads:

An invisible, uncrossable physical barrier encloses the Unified States. The Line is the part of the border that lopped off part of the country, dooming the inhabitants to an unknown fate when the enemy used a banned weapon. It’s said that bizarre creatures and superhumans live on the other side, in Away. Nobody except tough old Ms. Moore would ever live next to the Line.

Nobody but Rachel and her mother, who went to live there after Rachel’s dad died in the last war. It’s a safe, quiet life. Until Rachel finds a mysterious recorded message that can only have come from Away. The voice is asking for help.

Who sent the message? Why is her mother so protective? And to what lengths is Rachel willing to go in order to do what she thinks is right?

I had the distinct pleasure of reading The Line late last year. I’d been looking forward to it ever since the deal announcement went up in Publishers Marketplace. The one line summary hooked me: “set in the near future, when an invisible, physical barrier exists between the Unified States and Away, examining a girl’s choice to risk crossing not just the barrier, but the lines her protective mother has drawn for her in order to keep her safe from a destructive, controlling government…” It got my mind whirring immediately. I set myself up for this book BIG TIME, consequently. And the best part? It didn’t disappoint.

One of the first things that struck me about The Line–one of the first things I loved about it–was the style. There’s something very fairy tale amazing and wonderful about it. Take a look at this opener: “It seemed to Rachel that she had always lived on The Property, though this wasn’t true. Her mother, Vivian, said they moved there when she was three years old, but Rachel didn’t remember. To her, The Property was home.”

Do you see what I mean? I could hear the words in my head, read in this soft and gentle reading-you-a-fairy-tale type voice. It lulled and eased me into this incredible story… with a VERY sinister edge. And that’s what I loved about The Line the most. The setting, the world, the prose offer all these sharp contrasts. Comfort. Discomfort. That you could feel this gentle fairy tale vibe INITIALLY, but that it offshoots directly into this darkness and doesn’t shy away from it–all while being fantastically consistent–is my favourite thing about this book. It’s like a storm is brewing. Brilliant.

Rachel is the perfect kind of protagonist to feed these contrasts to the reader. I loved her questions about The Line, Away, The Government, the reality of being brave juxtaposed against desire to be brave, reconciling what you can do with what you should do, great questions of right/wrong (by the way, this book is going to inspire some great questions and discussions in younger and older readers alike). The Line is about a time and place that is not safe and scary and feels unnervingly possible.

The pacing of The Line is brilliant. I could feel myself being wound tight, knowing the pay-off was going to leave me saying DAMN, and that is exactly what happened. I got wound tight, but I didn’t even realize how much until I hit that last page and then I was like whoa, DAMN. But I mean that in the best way possible. And then I closed the book and I was like DAMN again because the pacing and the tension was just that PERFECT.

I can’t freaking wait for it sequel, Away.

ON THAT NOTE, I think you should read this book so we can anticipate the sequel together! And I will be happy to put one into your hands with a GIVEAWAY! You’ll find out what you need to do to be entered to win after you read this awesome interview with Teri, who was kind enough to endure my questions and bounce back with fabulous answers. Are you ready? Here we go!


Where did you get the idea for The Line?

I got the idea while I was sleeping–yes, that’s right–I had a dream. (Take a moment to groan in disgust and throw something in my general direction if you hate it when writers say that.)

It was just a scene really—a scene where a young girl was sitting in the corner of a room, a room where all the walls were made of glass. It was night, and there was a rain storm, the kind where the rain is coming down so hard that it cascades down the glass in sheets, and makes everything outside look wavery and vague. The girl was looking out into the night, trying to see, but the rain and the dark made it impossible. The girl “felt” scared in my dream, but she really wanted to see whatever she thought was out there in the dark. There was a flash of lightning, and something–I didn’t see what–was illuminated. The girl gasped, and when she gasped, I sat straight up in bed, shocked into wakefulness.

I thought about that scene for days, because I don’t generally have dreams like that, where nothing is familiar or at least signifies something familiar. I wondered why that girl was sitting in a glass room alone at night. I wondered what she saw outside when that lightening struck. I wondered why she was so afraid.

I wondered what world that was, that I had seen in that dream. And I started to write about what I thought that a world like that might be like.

I am going to cite this as an example of why all writers NEED TO SLEEP! Sleep is working. Tell us about The Line’s journey to publication.

You know, I tend to think of it as pretty straightforward—get agent, agent sells book, do revisions, blam, pubbed. But I think that may be because having it published was not a primary goal in my life. It never was quite that straightforward when I really think about it, and I was so lucky in so many ways.

I love your writing style. It had such a (dark) fairytale-like quality about it. Can you talk about that choice–did that voice come to you, or did you have to find it?–and what it was like to write The Line?

I think that was just my voice. I didn’t have to look for it. It just felt like it worked for what I wanted to say in the story.

It really did. I really enjoyed watching Rachel evolve as a character. As she became more politically aware, more informed, she also became more critical of her mother’s choices. She had to reconcile with them. This also helped her choose her own course. Can you tell us about developing Rachel as a character? Are you at all like Rachel yourself?

You really hit the nail on the head about Rachel in your review of The Line, when you said that it raised questions about “the reality of being brave juxtaposed against desire to be brave, reconciling what you can do with what you should do.”

Rachel, in the beginning, thinks that doing the right thing is easy. She brands her mom as a coward because she doesn’t understand what risks her mom is weighing. She’s sure that she would make different choices than Ms. Moore did when she was faced with her own, terrible dilemma. As the story progresses and Rachel learns more about what is at stake for different characters, she also starts to learn that nothing is quite as simple or easy as she thinks, and I loved exploring this part of her growth and change.

I think I am like Rachel in some ways, in that I do still think, lots of times, that doing the right thing is simple and easy. And then I actually get to a place where I am tested, and I learn all over again that it ain’t so simple or easy. But I still believe with all my heart that, difficult or complicated as doing (heck, just identifying) the right thing may be, it IS necessary. We all need to strive toward doing whatever that right thing is in our own lives, at every moment.

Well said! I think one of the most disturbing and brilliant things about it was how possible the future in The Line scene. Can you tell us about the worldbuilding?

As far as building the world, I wanted it to be a world that the reader could envision happening without too much of a stretch from where we are now. It all sort of came organically from the idea that things change so quickly, right before our eyes, and suddenly we are in a world we hardly recognize. For me, this seems so clear. I now live in a country where I can’t take a nail file on an airplane. I can’t drive across a border into a friendly, neighboring country without (usually) being detained at that border because I was born in a country outside the United States. My government has given itself the right spy on me for almost any reason. And that list goes on and on and on. Are these necessary trade offs? Does my safety as a human being depend upon them? Those are the kinds of things I was thinking about when I built the world in The Line.


I really enjoyed the political edge in The Line. I think it’s written in a way that is incredibly accessible without being preachy. Even though certain characters had certain leanings, I never felt like you were speaking for the characters, which I think is a difficult but brilliant thing to pull off because it gives the readers a chance to develop their own opinions about it (nicely done, is what I’m saying!). I think younger and older readers alike will get a lot of discussion out of it. How difficult, or not difficult, was it to incorporate topics like politics and government–was it hard to keep your authorial voice out of the picture?

Wow, thank you, Courtney, for those kind words. I really tried to write a story that would raise some questions for people, without really answering those questions. During my very first classroom visit (Hello St. Matthew’s 7th Grade class!) the questions the kids had were brilliant and led to just the kind of discussion I hoped The Line would stir. The adults I know who have read the book seem to be having those same sorts of discussions. It’s very gratifying to get that kind of feedback.

Who were your favourite characters to write?

Ms. Moore, hands down. Because she is all of it–all of life. The hopes, the dreams, the fear the loss, the resignation, the bitterness, the resolve, and the renewal of possibility. She was a ride. And I loved her crotchety old self.

Mrs. Moore was one of my favourite characters. I loved her. And I LOVE your cover. It’s so eerie, very foreboding. Can you tell us about how it came to be/how involved you were in the cover process?

I was about as involved as most writers, which is to say not very. But I was very happy with what the people who do that work came up with! I think I got really lucky!

Any hints about the sequel to The Line, Away? Tell us what’s next for you!

None. Not a single hint—but it’s been fun to write! Next for me? More writing.

I tried. :) I can’t wait to see what happens in Away! Where can we find you on the web?

Thanks, Teri!

Thanks to you, Courtney, for taking the time to talk about The Line.


The Line was released in hardcover from Dial on March 4th. DO YOU WANT A COPY? Of course you do! To be entered into a giveaway of The Line (seriously, you want this), all you have to do is COMMENT ON THIS ENTRY! Like I said–easy! Contest open to US & Canada only. You have until Sunday, March 14th to get your name in. Winner will be announced the following Monday.

Dear FTC, The Line was provided to me by its author and I was not compensated for this review. I just love talking about books I love. xo, Courtney