For fans of The Raven Boys comes a story about treasure, a promise to one’s family, and a mystery on a magical island.
Published: 10 October 2017
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Category: Young Adult/Mystery
Right before Sadie died, she begged her sister, Ruby, to do the one thing she could never do herself: Find the treasure on Gray Wolf Island.
With just a mysterious treasure map as a guide, Ruby reluctantly allows some friends to join her on the hunt, each of whom is touched by magic: a boy allegedly born to a virgin, a girl who never sleeps, a boy who can foresee his own death, and a boy with deep ties to the island. Each of them is also keeping a secret—something they’ll have to reveal in order to reach the treasure.
As the secrets come to light, Ruby will have to decide: Can she make peace with her friends’ troubled pasts and continue to trust them? Can she forgive herself for doing the unspeakable? Deep in the wilderness of Gray Wolf Island, Ruby’s choices will determine if they make it out with the treasure—or merely with their lives.
From debut author Tracey Neithercott comes a darkly compelling tale of profound friendship, adventure, and finding the strength to tell the truth.
It sounds like there’s going to be a lot of emotion in this book, from the loss of Ruby’s sister to the backgrounds of the friends that join Ruby in her quest to discover the treasure of Gray Wolf Island. I’m hoping there will be a lot of fun too, as isn’t uncovering mystery generally exciting?
Today I’m hosting an interview with the author, where she will answer some of my questions about her book, her own ideas about treasure, and about seizing the chance when you can.
Thank you to Tracey Neithercott for answering these questions for the readers of The Hermit Librarian. 🙂
- Did you ever play pretend at finding a treasure in your backyard, at the beach, etc.?
When I was little, just about everything was a treasure hunt. My mother would cart my sister and I around as she went shopping, and because we were little (and because shopping that doesn’t involve toys is horribly boring to kids), my sister and I would crawl around on the floor picking up junk like missing buttons and plastic fasteners and straight pins that fell from shirtsleeves.
(This was a long time ago, when people weren’t so concerned with stuff like hepatitis.)
I think we all want to believe there’s a treasure out there. That we could find a map and that’d be it: our ticket to adventure.
- In the summary for Gray Wolf Island, it says that Sadie asks her sister to do something she never could. Is there something that you regret not having done and want to in the future?
So much about Gray Wolf Island is about regretting those things you did do, so this is a fun twist. When I was in college, I studied in New Zealand and developed a bit of an addiction to adventure activities. I vowed that even once I entered the Real World, I wouldn’t stop doing the things I loved. Sure, I thought, why not work for a week then skydive on the weekend?
Except work was demanding. Except I was low on cash.
I started thinking logically: If I save money, I can travel to an even more exciting place. If I wait now, I can do something bigger and better then.
And then I was diagnosed with a rare chronic pain condition. All of those plans became pure fantasy. So I regret it—waiting until I was in a better place, until I was less busy and less poor. I’m not sure if I’ll get well and be able to do those things, but it’s a good lesson in waiting for the perfect time. There is no perfect time, possibly no time better than now.
- What is it about an island setting that appealed to you rather than, say, a small town in the middle of a country?
Though the island setting was one of the first things I settled on when creating the story, it had less to do with my love for islands and more with the story itself. I wanted to bury the treasure in a secluded location and, more than that, I wanted a setting that would separate the treasure hunters from real life. The goal was to intensify the sense of otherworldliness—that this adventure was removed from the everyday.
That said, I love writing small towns. When I created the second storyline in Gray Wolf Island, I automatically knew I wanted to use it to bring the treasure hunters’ small Maine town to life. Through this secondary POV chapters, you get to see life in Wildewell and all of the bits of magic that are part of it.
- Would you rather find a typical treasure (gold, etc.) or a non-typical ones (the answer to a secret, a source of magic, etc.)?
I fear giving away the type of Gray Wolf Island treasure in my answer! I wouldn’t say no to gold, but I think something like a secret or other magic may be more meaningful in the long run.
- Gray Wolf Island could take place across any time period from the sound of Ruby’s adventure and her friends. What made you pick the one that you did?
I’m not sure I consciously thought about it, or weighed the pros and cons of using a historical setting. The idea came so naturally in this time period that it just felt right. There is a second POV in the book that takes place in a different time, but I don’t think it’s too spoilery to say It’s not historical.
- Ruby encounters a few people along the way with mysteries of their own. What about their abilities/situations made them appeal to you as characters that needed their story told?
From the very beginning, I wanted the magic in Gray Wolf Island to feel like a seamless part of the world and the characters’ lives. The fact that Charlie gets visions of his death is no stranger to them than real-life oddities, like a man eating 72 hot dogs in a sitting or stones sailing across the desert floor.
And so I also knew that I couldn’t give them hints of magic just for the sake of adding magic into the story. I needed it to be so much a part of who each person was that to remove it, I’d get a completely different character. What appealed to me about each of the side characters was determining how each person’s magic shaped them, how it would affect the plot and the other characters, how I could connect it with their secrets, and what truth about themselves I could reveal using the magic. It was a tall order, but incredibly fun to puzzle out!
- Were there any works that inspired Gray Wolf Island, whether it be a book or movie?
The spark of an idea for Gray Wolf Island came while I was watching Stand by Me. There’s a scene where Gordie and Chris are having a heart-to- heart in the woods one night and I thought, “That’s what I want to write next: a powerful friendship.”
I’d settled on a treasure hunt about the time my husband began watching The Curse of Oak Island. It’s a History Channel documentary about a real-life treasure hunt happening on a small island off the coast of Nova Scotia. It all sort of clicked: that was where I’d bury my treasure. Or a fictional island inspired by it.
- Would you rather have a map that lead you straight to a treasure or a cryptic message that led clue to clue until the final resting place of the treasure?
Definitely the second. There’s a line in Gray Wolf Island that gets at this very question. The main character, Ruby, who’s a bit antisocial and would prefer to do the treasure hunting thing alone, is attempting to dissuade Elliot from crashing her adventure. She offers to share the spoils, provided he stay home. Elliot responds the same way I would: “What the hell’s the point of a treasure you don’t have to search for?”