The Wolf Hollow Sequel Is Nigh! An Interview and Cover Reveal with Lauren Wolk
Smell that? That’s the smell of the ALA Youth Media Awards just around the corner. On January 24th we’ll find out once and for all which books in 2022 got the big time medals. But BEFORE that happens, why don’t we talk to a previous Newbery Honor winner?
The first time I read a book by Lauren Wolk, I was unprepared. The second time I read a book by Lauren Wolk, I thought I was prepared. I was wrong. The third time I read a book by Lauren Wolkd, I knew I wasn’t prepared, I was right, and it was a marvelous experience. And now, today, I am thrilled beyond measure to say that not only does she have a new book on the horizon but that I get to reveal its cover to you AND interview her at the same time.
It’s a fine fine life.
But where are my manners? The name of the book just happens to be MY OWN LIGHTNING and here’s a plot description. And yes, just in case you were wondering, it IS a sequel to Wolf Hollow!
In the aftermath of the tragic events set in motion by bully Betty Glengarry, the routine of daily life in Wolf Hollow has returned. But for Annabelle McBride, loss continues to cast a long shadow and it’s hard to make peace with what feels like threadbare justice. A powerful storm is about to leave change in its wake, setting Annabelle on a new path. A search for her brother’s dog, Buster, will bring them to unfamiliar doorsteps and also reunite Annabelle with a too familiar adversary—Andy Woodberry, who was complicit in Betty’s most terrible acts. But growing up and blazing her own trail will soon force Annabelle to reexamine deeply felt truths—about people, about justice—that had once seemed so uncomplicated.
Betsy Bird: Lauren! Lovely to speak with you again. And congrats on the upcoming publication of MY OWN LIGHTNING. I was stunned and delighted to hear that you’re returning to the world of your Newbery Honor winning book WOLF HOLLOW once more. What brought this about?
Lauren Wolk: Thanks, Betsy! I’m thrilled to be speaking with you, too. I’ve never written a sequel before, and I was warned that it wouldn’t be a picnic, but I had no idea how challenging it would be, especially during a very difficult time filled with worry and distraction. So why do it? Because I so love Annabelle and her family and the farm where they live. I missed them all, and I found myself wondering what Annabelle’s life was like in the wake of everything that happened in WOLF HOLLOW. I write without a map, so I wasn’t sure what I’d encounter as I wrote MY OWN LIGHTNING, but I ended up making a lot of discoveries alongside Annabelle, and I’m glad I decided to spend more time with her.
BB: Well, on a related note, when writing WOLF HOLLOW initially, did you have any inkling that a sequel might be in its future?
LW: No, it never occurred to me that I’d write a sequel. In fact, WOLF HOLLOW ended without loose ends, so it didn’t necessarily suggest a second book, but I was so involved with Annabelle, so connected to her and the things that inspired me to create her, that I found her much on my mind. As if she were waiting for me to come back for more.
BB: In WOLF HOLLOW we meet a character that I honestly feel may be one of the most frightening villains in children’s literature. She’s not in MY OWN LIGHTNING (for obvious reasons) but her accomplice Andy Woodberry is. I feel that Andy has big shoes to fill villain-wise. Is his an arc of redemption, a case of pure villainy, or something more complicated?
LW: What a good question. The answer is your third option: something more complicated. I like complex characters, and when Annabelle and I dug into Andy’s character, we were intrigued to find several layers, each with its own kind of truth. The experience reminded me not to peg anyone as one thing or another. We’re all complicated. And we tend to reveal ourselves to those we trust. To those who take the time to know us all the way to the bone.
BB: We find ourselves in a kind of pandemic holding pattern at the moment. I can’t help but feel it must, on some level, affect the writing of our authors today. Do you feel that there are any elements to this story that have been affected by the lockdowns of 2020 or the world of 2021? Are there larger themes at play beneath its surface?
LW: Yes, I felt greatly influenced by world events as I wrote MY OWN LIGHTNING. I’m always affected by the outside world, but in this case I found it especially difficult to separate the story I was writing from the one I was living. The themes of the book came unbidden, as a natural consequence of paying attention to human behavior and the problems of the larger world. I won’t define those themes except to say that they are timeless. As true in the 1940s as they are today.
BB: And how has writing this book differed for you from writing the original WOLF HOLLOW?
LW: I was inspired to write WOLF HOLLOW by my mother and the farm where she grew up and where I spent so many of my best days. I wrote it without a publisher, without any expectation of “success,” without any concerns about audience. I wrote it simply because I’m a writer. The same was essentially true for BEYOND THE BRIGHT SEA, since I finished the first draft of that a full year before WOLF HOLLOW was published. But, since then, I’ve had to work harder to separate my craft from the external aspects of publishing books. I am blessed with an incredible support system—a great editor, great publisher, great agent—that helps me put my best foot forward and connect with a world of readers who love stories as much as I do. But as I wrote MY OWN LIGHTNING, I did sometimes struggle with distractions related to releasing a book during a time of global and national crises. ECHO MOUNTAIN came out in April of 2020. Not the best time to release a book. And I was worried about sending yet another book out into a world rightly focused on life-and-death issues. It’s a bit like that first day of school when you put your child on a school bus and wave goodbye. You hope for a safe journey . . . and a warm welcome at the end of it.
BB: One cannot see two books and help but wonder about a third. Any chance of that in the future?
LW: I never say never. I suppose it’s possible that I’ll create a series. Kids have been clamoring for a sequel to both BEYOND THE BRIGHT SEA and ECHO MOUNTAIN, so I’ll give that some thought, too. But right now I’m in the middle of a new book and have lots of other irons in the fire. I’ll have to wait and see if Annabelle calls me back into her world again.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for . . .
Great thanks are due to Ms. Wolk for so patiently answering my questions and to Kaitlin Kneafsey and the folks at Penguin Young Readers for connecting us. MY OWN LIGHTNING is on shelves everywhere May 3rd. Be sure to look for it then.
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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