The Hole in the Sky Review and Author Q & A

15 October 2009
I was recently given the opportunity to review a wonderful book, The Hole in the Sky by
Barbara Mahler. I have not read the book yet, but can tell you that the art is some of the most beautiful I've ever seen on any book. Simply amazing! I wish I'd been given the chance to read it, but my little bibliophile had other plans.

Ashley is always eager to help with kids' book reviews and this book grabbed her attention immediately. She tells me it takes you on a journey to a magical land. Ashley really loves all the characters and really enjoyed the book. I noticed that she read this one pretty slowly and when I questioned her about it, she said it was because their was so much description and detail, she was reading it slowly so she could absorb it all. This is exactly what she does with pretty much any fantasy book, Harry Potter books are very slow reads for her. She has said that the book is sad in places, but she still likes it. I asked her if it would be a good gift and she said definitely! So, Ashley gave it two thumbs up! So, it's a winner at our house!

Please enjoy this Q & A with the book's author Barbara Mahler. She tells us more about the wonderful book and how she came to write it. Enjoy!

Tell us about your book, The Hole in the Sky.

Following the death of her mother, thirteen-year-old Kaela Neuleaf struggles with her loss. Lured by an old diary and the mysterious power of her mother’s butterfly pendant, Kaela and her cousin Shawn are transported to Muratenland where the two are desperately needed to rescue a kidnapped child from the clutches of a vicious warlord.

The Hole in the Sky offers beauty and adventure, a bevy of strange and magical friends – and deadly enemies. When Shawn is captured, Kaela must dig inside for untapped wells of courage and love in her heart in order to save her cousin and new friends from the ravages of an impending war.

Give us some background on the main character, Kaela, and what drives her longing for a magical journey.

After Kaela’s mother dies from a protracted illness Kaela feels like all the magic and joy she once experienced has vanished from her life.

How did your work with cancer patients help inspire the story?

This story was profoundly influenced by my work with cancer patients and their families. I fall in love with the beautiful spirit of all my patients and I experience a deep sense of loss and helplessness when one of them dies. In some ways I think I made my own journey through loss by writing this story.

I have learned so much about the beauty and appreciation of life from each person I have cared for facing a serious illness and I am thrilled to be able to share some of that beauty with this story.

What kind of research did you do when writing the book?

I purposefully did not do any type of research for this book because I didn’t want to be influenced by other people. These characters and their stories came to me in visions and dreams. I never knew where the story was going to take me. Characters I didn’t even know were going to be in the story showed up and insisted on telling me their side of what had taken place. Then it was my challenge to find a way to weave together the stories.

To what age group is the book targeted?

9-12 is the targeted age group, but I have found that people of all ages are enjoying this story. It is a wonderful book to read together with your kids.

Is it true this book appeals to boys as well as girls – and even their parents? Why is that?

There are two main characters in this book: a girl and a boy that are swept from their ordinary lives into an extraordinary adventure in another world. There is a point in The Hole in the Sky that people tell me the story definitely becomes a page turner with plenty of action, mystery, unexpected twists and turn in the plot, and acts of bravery and love.

What is the moral of the story in The Hole in the Sky?

Ariala, one of the Butterfly Women in my book, says, “Love goes deeper than skin, flesh or bone. It is the great healer.” I definitely agree with her.

How is the book different from others in the fantasy/adventure genre?

At first glance this book appears to be a classic story of good versus evil, but as it unfolds the story challenges assumptions that we make about entire tribes of people as being totally good or evil. It also explores the choice we each face when experiencing loss of whether we will close our hearts and hide in bitterness or open to even greater kindness and compassion.

Have you always been a storyteller?

Yes, absolutely! I have made up stories all my life. Even when I am sitting and waiting for a plane I look at the people around me and weave fantastic tales about their lives and their destinations. I also use the foibles (of which there seem to be an unending stream) and humorous incidents from my life to entertain, inform and inspire my patients. I love to make people laugh.

The Hole in the Sky is the first in a trilogy. When can we expect the next two books?

I am definitely working away. I sometimes wish I was one of those writers that had an outline and three characters showing different points of view, but I am at the mercy of my muse Netri. He continually surprises me. At the rate I’m going I hope to be done with the next book in about a year.

How can our audience get your book?

Bookstores should be carrying it as of October 20th. If they aren’t you should weep, gnash your teeth and pull a hissy fit until they get online that very minute to order copies for you and the other people that will soon be pounding down their doors demanding a copy of The Hole in the Sky.

What is your website?

Do you have anything to add?

Do you remember when you were a child wondering if maybe somewhere there was a secret door or room you could enter that would take you to a magical place? If you have ever had that feeling, then go through The Hole in the Sky with Kaela and Shawn. I think you will be delighted by what you discover on the other side.

I recently had the honor of attending a meeting of The Boulder Butterfly Girl Book Group, six nine-year-old girls, who read the book over the summer. Their passion for my book truly moved me. They summed up the story as, “A magical journey about friendship, love and courage.”

I think those girls would agree with me when I say that it will be well worth your time to take this journey.

Ramblings of a Texas Housewife Product Review and/or Giveaway Disclosure- I have received no compensation other than the offer of free product to review and/or giveaway. Any opinions expressed on Ramblings of a Texas Housewife are my own. My reviews are never reviewed or edited in any way by sponsors.

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