Friday, August 11, 2017

Author Spotlight: Into the Hurricane by Neil Connelly + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 10:00 AM

Before returning to his home state of Pennsylvania, where he teaches at Shippensburg University, Connelly was director of the MFA program at McNeese State University. He has published five books and numerous short stories.

Title: Into the Hurricane
Genre: YA Contemporary-ish
Author: Neil Connelly
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication: June 27th 2017
Cover Rating: 4/5

Hurricanes are one of natures wonders, albeit a deadly one. I have only experienced maybe 5 hurricanes in my entire life. Hurricane Floyd tossed a tree onto my parents brand new cars and we didn't have power for two weeks and everything was flooded, including our basement that ten year old me thought was cool because, hello, indoor swimming pool, right? We lived off of Burger King croissants. Then there was Hurricane Isabel, that hoebag took my basketball hoop and destroyed it. Once again no power for a long time. And then, the last big storm I can remember was Hurricane Sandy. That one left my back yard a swamp and caused a tree to break off and rub the power lines which caused a small fire, which was pretty scary. So, as you can read, hurricanes are nasty. So why would a boy stay when his entire town was evacuated? And why would a girl drive into the storm territory right before it hit? Well, you'll just have to read the book to find out. Or, my review, but hey, read the book, too, okay?

We start off with Max. Her father just died and she made him a promise that she might have to break the law in order to uphold. Okay, might is a lie. She WILL have to break laws. Max is a very angry person. She is extremely volatile towards everything and very reckless

Then we move on to Eli. There is a category 5 hurricane coming and Eli refuses to evacuate for reasons you learn almost immediately. He lost someone very close to him and that has taken its toll on him. Not to mention this person isn't exactly gone.

Max and Eli end up meeting in an old lighthouse right before the hurricane is about to hit. Both have their own reasons for being at that lighthouse it neither wants to share or budge. Then, a group of holy-rollers show up and crap goes down. This leads Max and Eli into the belly of the monster and straight into the mouth of the storm. But Max needs to get something that was stolen whether it means living or dying. Eli goes along because he is just a nice guy with no sense of self preservation.

So, after trying to get her lost possession back, that is where the meat and potatoes of the story really starts and it gets pretty good. They have to try and escape with their lives and it's not as easy as you might thing when crazies and a storm are chasing you.

The only thing that I disliked about the book was the duel perspectives.  Normally I love those types of books but this duel perspective actually switched from first person to third person and it tripped me up a couple times.

In the end, this book was very enjoyable but very different from what I was expecting. I guess I wasn't expecting the whole religious experience/cult insanity. It wasn't bad, don't get me wrong, just wasn't prepared for that level of nutcrackers.

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars.

1) What was your inspiration for writing Into the Hurricane?
Between 1993 and 2010, I lived in Louisiana and North Carolina.  During those years, I had to evacuate a half dozen times because of hurricanes. On those cramped highways heading out of town, every now and then I’d see a single car going in the opposite direction, and I always wondered what would compel someone to head into a natural disaster.  That idea incubated a long time till it came to life in the characters in this book.

2) Do you own any pets? If yes, what kind and what are their names?
I live with my wife, our two sons, and a cute white dog named Muffin.  She’s a cockapoo we think (as a rescued dog, we’re not sure).  Muffin likes to keep me company when I write.

3) If you were given the chance to live on Mars, but you could never come back to Earth, would you do it?
While I like the notion of a grand adventure, I think I’ll leave that to my characters.  Besides, I’d miss too many of the things I love, like coffee and air.

4) What are five random facts about you?
1.      I’m the last of ten children.  (8 older sisters!)
2.      I still like playing with Legos.
3.      As a teen, I worked at a comic book shop.
4.      I do yoga (badly, yes).
5.      I still love teaching after 24 years in the classroom.

5) If you could pick any of your characters to bring to life, who would you pick and why?
That’s a hard question.  All of my main characters still have lives, so far as I know.  Like old friends I’ve lost track of, in my mind they have continued to age and change and grow.  But in my first book, there was a character named Nathan Looby who committed suicide.  When I wrote and rewrote that scene, he looked at me with such pleading and desperate eyes.  I guess, if given such a power, I’d bring Nathan to life, mostly because I feel so guilty about killing him in the first place.


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