Guest Post-- Maureen Doyle McQuerry shares the backstory of Beyond the Door

Today I'm very pleased to be welcoming Maureen Doyle McQuerry, author of the middle grade fantasy novel, Beyond the Door (Amulet 3/25/14).

Here's the blurb
"Beyond the Door, the first in the Time Out of Time duet....weaves a compelling coming-of-age story with fantasy and mythology. With his love of learning and the game of Scrabble, Timothy James feels like the only person who understands him is his older sister, Sarah, and he’s fairly certain nothing interesting will ever happen to him. But one night, while his parents and sister are away, the door opens, and mythical creatures appear in his own living room! Soon, a mystery of unparalleled proportions begins to unfold, revealing an age-old battle of Light against Dark, and Timothy must embark on a quest to prevent the Dark from controlling the future and changing the past. But he can’t complete the quest alone. Timothy has to team up with his sister and the school bully, Jessica, to face an ancient evil, and in the process, this unlikely trio discover they are each more than meets the eye."

And now, over to Maureen, who shares the backstory to the book!
What have I learned about the world from myth as a writer and a reader? Since writing Beyond the Door  and The Peculiars I’ve been thinking about why myth matters. Over the next week I’ll be blogging in the U.S and U.K. about six things I’ve learned from mythic stories that have inspired me. Plus there will be fun giveaways and a post by cover artist Victo Ngai! Follow the thread…

Writers are like crows. Shiny things catch our attention, and we carry them off to hoard in our secret place.  The sparklies that catch my attention might be a word, a setting, a face, a conversation partially overheard. They will not necessarily be your shiny things. I’ve learned that the things we notice say a lot about who we are.

The inspiration for Beyond the Door began on a trip to Oxford, England. Our daughter was studying there for two terms and of course we had to visit! On an overcast day, in an ancient old church, I looked up and a face was looking down at me.

He had leaves for hair, vines sprouting from his nose and mouth, and skin cracked and ridged like tree bark. A face somewhere between man and tree. What if I felt vines pushing up my throat and out my mouth? What if my joints grew stiff and birds lodged in my hair? The Greenman came to life for me that day. He was the shiny object that got me thinking about Celtic mythology, and he was the first character in Beyond the Door. I’ve always loved stories of the Wild Hunt, quests, the idea that magic might be right beyond my door. The Greenman let me play with those ideas. And before he was ever a story, I wrote about him as a poem.

                         Green Man 
               It was this way, in the heart of the forest:
green sea deep and light,
leaves like rippling water,
a steady heartbeat of silence.
It was this way, a mere tickle
an itching of the scalp and suddenly
every movement becomes a rustle
as tufts of hair unfurl

to leaf, a flourish of jade moustache
sprouting and curling from raw, nude
                skin. My legs and fingers swollen wood,
ridged and gray as sycamore bark. 

It was like this, a panic of birds
sorting through my hair,
animals seeking shelter in knot holes,
joints sealing and sap running like blood

           It was like this, precipitous, 
               life bursting forth in unexpected places, 
              roots seeking hold and feeding 
              capillaries, the taste of moss and humus 
              filling my mouth like song.

But a story isn’t just about an interesting character or setting, it’s about a struggle that leads to change. Every time, every story.  If these mythic characters were going to come to life, I needed a protagonist whose world would be turned upside when he encountered them. I was coordinating a program for gifted middle school students at the time, and that’s where Timothy, Sarah and Jessica came from. I wanted to write a story for those kids. The smart, quirky, love- to- read fantasy kids I taught every day. I even used the real name of their middle school in the book.

I have discovered my novels have several common threads. One of these is myth. Myth adds subtext to a story. The writer and reader join a conversation that has been whispered for centuries: Where did we come from? Where are we going? Is the world a safe place?

The amazing writer Neil Gaiman said in his speech at the mythopoeic awards, “…sometimes the best way to show people true things is from a direction that they had not imagined the truth coming.” That’s what myth does. It shows us something true in an unexpected way. And in that way, myths can be signposts to larger truths.

Here's the full schedule for the Beyond the Door Blog Tour:

6/9  http://flutteringbutterflies.com/ - Beyond the Door, the backstory
 6/10 http://www.wondrousreads.com/ - first chapter extract 
6/11 www.teenlibrarian.co.uk –What I’ve learned from Myth part 1
http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup  - What I’ve learned from Myth part 2  and giveaway
6/13 http://wesatdown.blogspot.com – The cover story post illustrator Victo Ngai
6/16 http://www.serendipityreviews.co.uk/ - Q and A

6/17 http://fictionfascination.blogspot.co.uk/ - Favorite books with myth that inspire me as a writer
6/10 http://middlegrademarch.com/     Cover artist Victo Ngai post, giveaway 6/11 thebookcellarx@gmail.com   What I’ve learned from Myth Part 1
6/12  http://hauntedorchid.blogspot.com  What I’ve Learned from Myth part 2
6/13  http://smack-dab-in-the-middle.blogspot.com   Interview/ give away

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