Author Interview: Sean Easley

A magical hotel, a mysterious tree, and a cryptic story about their missing father leads twins Cam and Cass on a worldly adventure in this enchanting debut novel that’s perfect for fans of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and Wildwood.

Twins Cam and Cass have never known their parents. They’ve been told their mother died, and Cass is certain their father abandoned them. Cam isn’t so sure. He wants to prove her wrong; he must.

Cam’s wish is soon granted in the form of a glistening, golden sign with elaborate flourishes that reads: The Hotel Between. With doors that open to countries all over the world, magical trollies, charmed corridors that can be altered on a whim, stone elephants that come to life, sweets made from rocks; everything is possible in the Hotel. Cam has a hunch his father is somehow connected to this magical place, and may even be lost within its hidden halls.

Every journey has its risks, and The Hotel Between is full of dangerous secrets. If Cam’s not careful, his stay may be over before his vacation has even started.

My Review: 

 absolutely loved Hotel Between from the first page to the last page. This book is filled with action and adventure that will sure to engage any reader. Cameron has been sucked into a magical hotel that allows you to travels to different places in the world just by opening up a door as he searches for his lost father.  I like how there is so much geography and traveling the world mixed in with fantasy and adventure. Can learn about these places and people in a way that is fun and attention-grabbing.  Happy reading!

Q: Tell us about your book, specifically the story behind the title.
A: THE HOTEL BETWEEN is a MG fantasy/adventure about a boy who joins the staff at a magic hotel that has doors that lead all over the world, and uses those doors to search for his long-lost father. The titular Hotel Between (which is the name of the organization in the book) has a tagline: “halfway between here, there, and everywhere,” which inspired the title. I really liked the idea too that the name of the Hotel has the inherent question, “Between what?” Though, I suspect that’s why so many people can’t stop calling it the Hotel In-Between, haha.

Book two, which is coming out in September, is titled THE KEY OF LOST THINGS, and carries through the idea of searching for someone. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’ll suffice to say that there are magic keys that all have different functions, and a very specific key--the Key of Lost Things--plays an important role in our protagonist uncovering even more secrets in the Hotel, and possibly even losing a few more. ;)

Q; What is your inspiration behind Hotel Between storyline?
A; It’s always hard to answer this one, because I’m convinced that stories come from everywhere. There’s no one thing that inspires these worlds. I could point to a dream I had where my wife and I moved into an apartment building that was a mixture of a hundred different architecture styles, or to my foreign language teacher mother, or my world-traveling athlete father, or my time working with a diverse group of students over the years… so many components all conspired together to plant the seeds of the garden that became this book, and they’re all of equal importance.

Q; What are some challenges unique to writing fantasy?
A; I think part of what makes fantasy so intriguing to me is the ability to look at life through a different lens, but sometimes the act of crafting that lens can be a bit cumbersome. As much as I love world building, it can be very difficult to communicate these various twists on the rules of the world to your audience in a way they can fully grasp it.

I think this is especially true when writing for a younger audience. There’s a necessary economy of words--a budget, that has to be spent sparingly--to hold young people’s attention while laying out the sometimes complex rules and systems for your world. That can lead to under-explaining to keep the pace going, which is typically fine for middle-grade readers but not as readily accepted by some older readers. Young people will often simply accept the rules given to them as true without argument, but older readers and adults will sometimes be frustrated by the fact that they don’t understand fully how the systems work. Add to that the reality that those older gatekeepers are the ones putting the book into young readers’ hands, and it’s easy to find myself walking a tightrope, afraid I might fall off either side at any moment.

Q; What makes this book a perfect fit for middle grade classrooms?
A: Geography has always been a fascination of mine. I loved it as a kid when we started diving into what life looks like in other countries. My grandfather always had stacks and stacks of National Geographic magazine around his house, and he would give me all the maps from the inside.

It’s easy to use The Hotel Between and The Key of Lost Things as a jumping off point to talk about the various places in our ever-shrinking world. Those middle grade years are where students start to really grasp that there’s an outside world that they’re not a part of yet.

Kids these days are interacting more and more with students overseas through the Internet, video games, etc.. But developmentally, abstract thinking is still brewing in its infancy. Students need concrete examples of the world that they’re rapidly becoming a part of in order to start forming their rubric for those borderless interactions that are coming at them so quickly. Examples of visiting these other places, and meeting people from all over the world, can lay out patterns that eases the need for abstract extrapolation when they end up in a video game matchmaking lobby with someone from a country they’ve never visited, or encounter a person of an unfamiliar ethnic origin wearing what they might consider “unusual” clothing at the store, or have a person from the far side of the globe comment on their social media post.

Understanding that the global community is not as different from us than we might think is incredibly important, and giving these students the opportunity to imagine themselves in these different places and interacting positively with people of all cultures will go a long way toward helping them become good global and digital citizens.
Q: What’s the best thing about being a writer?
A; I get to work with my cat.

But really, I love what the written word does to a reader’s brain. We become more like the people whose eyes we see through every time we read narrative fiction. We understand humanity better with every perspective we experience. It’s phenomenal to me that I get to nudge others toward goodness and empowerment and balance every time I sit down to write. What a humbling privilege that is, and what a harrowing responsibility.

Q: Future projects you are working on?
A: I can’t say too much about my books in the oven, but I’m currently working on both a new YA standalone and a new MG adventure series that I’m so very excited about and can’t wait to share!!

Q: What else would you like us know?
A: The paperback release of THE HOTEL BETWEEN is coming August 6, and then it’s one short month before the hardback of THE KEY OF LOST THINGS hits shelves! I can’t wait for y’all to see what trouble Cam and Cass get into!

Also, don’t forget to connect with me on Twitter and Instagram (@authoreasley). I’m scheduling school visits for the fall season too, so be sure to check out and leave me a message so we can start talking about scheduling an author talk!
Thank you for stopping by!

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