Author of the Month
Gail McAbee
[jan 2008]
Chosen by reviewer Louanne Clayton Jacobs, Ed.D., MyShelf.Com

I chose Gail McAbee as my Author of the Month because after having read several of her adult novels I was thrilled (read head-over-heels ecstatic) to find that she had found her way into the young adult market with the first in her fantasy series, The Crystal Staircase. I was pleased to find that both Gail and I are Southerners, a fact you may find reflected in our interview.


Louanne Jacobs: Your previous books have all been directed towards an adult market. What prompted the leap into Young Adult writing?

Gail McAbee: As I kid, I remember I couldn’t wait to learn how to read, and when I did, I cut my teeth on Heinlein’s juveniles and on Andre Norton. I can still remember the thrill when I found out that books had SEQUELS! But as I became more voracious, I rapidly worked into reading more adult-oriented books, so I missed out on a lot of ‘official’ YA books. After I’d written several books targeted towards adults, I remembered my love of the books I’d first discovered as a new reader and wanted to write some of my own; hence, The Crystal Staircase series. I’ve also got a new YA serialized book coming out soon in individual chapters through the Amazon Shorts program. PERIL IN PANGEA tells the time traveling adventures of three girls who attend an academy for geniuses. I would love to see more girls to embrace science and science fiction. I have always been a geek, back when geeks weren’t cool, so it’s great to see more acceptance of that. So many books in the fantasy, adventure and science fiction genres are seen by some adults as targeted towards the YA market, especially if kids are characters, but I don’t think Jules Verne or Mark Twain or Charles Dickens thought of themselves as YA writers. I think thrusting books into rigid and specific genres isn’t a good thing; what matters, what should always matter, is good storytelling.


Louanne: The Crystal Staircase's first book is an e-book. Was that format deliberate? If so, was it an attempt to target a tech-savvy youth market and will you also publish a hard-cover edition for the trade market?

Gail: Yes and yes. Did I mention yes? I’m a firm believer in new technology; after all, my degree is in industrial electronics. I believe we are rapidly approaching, not the end of the paper book by any means, but a great leap forward into new forms of books and transmitting information in general. I’ve always considered the act of writing as a magical thing: I have an idea, a story, a character. I transform that idea into weird little marks on paper or a computer screen. Then someone half way around the world can see those marks and turn them back into, if not the original idea, at least something quite close to it. If that’s not a definition of magic, I don’t know what is.

But there’s still and will always be a place for books on paper. THE DARK LEGACY will, I understand from my publisher Calderwood Books, be available in print soon. I’ll be happy to let everyone know when that happens!


Louanne: As a Southerner, you follow in a long tradition of outstanding writers. What role do you think your Southern roots play in your writing?

Gail: Southerners have always been storytellers; I think we absorb that ability from the red clay, though the sweet tea may have something to do with it too. My grandmother worked in a mill and had an eighth-grade education, but she was full of stories of her relatives, her past, her experiences. We always tell stories. Actually, that was the term for telling a lie when I was a kid: “You’re telling a story.” So now I lie for a living.


Louanne: Popular media tend to run articles talking about how young people are not reading these days. I find that they read when we put delicious material in their hands and get out of their way - what are your thoughts?

Gail: Not reading! They read all the time: texting, IMing, gaming, comics, TV and movies are all concerned with reading and/or writing and/or storytelling. A good story is a good story, whether it’s told around a fire in a cave, or transmitted through the air on waves, or read from paper or a computer screen. I think people have always worried that young people don’t read enough, but I’m with you: if there’s something good available, they’ll read it. There is just so much call on everyone’s time today, and so many ways that are not recognized as reading but, in truth, are.


Louanne: Can you give your readers any hints as to what Noah and Holli will be up to in the sequel to The Dark Legacy?

Gail: While I don’t want to give away any of the plot of THE DARK LEGACY, let me just mention that it ends with a separation. Naturally, in THE ISLAND PRISON, those who are separated spend most of their time trying to get back together again. There’s danger for everyone involved, new characters and old, and some pretty exciting new locations that relate directly to Noah’s tendency towards being sea sick. The tone turns darker and Noah loses someone that he has grown very close to. Oh, and Gilbert eats. A lot. I have the flesh-and-blood Gilbert; he’s lying at my feet at this moment, as he always does, and many of his characteristics, including his love of food, have become part of the fictional G-bert. In book three, THE SECRET FORTRESS…well, more about that later! I’ve got ideas for several more books in the series, if that happens to work out.



Dark Legacy
Crystal Staircase Series #1
By K. G. (Gail) McAbee

Calderwood Kids
ISBN: 978-1-934614-05-1
Teen / YA Fantasy Adventure

Reviewed: 2007
Buy it at Calderwood Kids

Reviewed by Louanne Clayton Jacobs



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