Gray Wolf Island by Tracey Neithercott

Title: Gray Wolf Island
Author: Tracey Neithercott
Published: October 10th 2017 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Right before Sadie died, she begged her sister, Ruby, to do the one thing she could never do herself: Find the treasure on Gray Wolf Island.

With just a mysterious treasure map as a guide, Ruby reluctantly allows some friends to join her on the hunt, each of whom is touched by magic: a boy allegedly born to a virgin, a girl who never sleeps, a boy who can foresee his own death, and a boy with deep ties to the island. Each of them is also keeping a secret—something they’ll have to reveal in order to reach the treasure.

As the secrets come to light, Ruby will have to decide: Can she make peace with her friends’ troubled pasts and continue to trust them? Can she forgive herself for doing the unspeakable? Deep in the wilderness of Gray Wolf Island, Ruby’s choices will determine if they make it out with the treasure—or merely with their lives.

From debut author Tracey Neithercott comes a darkly compelling tale of profound friendship, adventure, and finding the strength to tell the truth.


1. How many drafts did you go through before you settled on a copy to submit?

I believe I went through three or four drafts before submitting to editors. The first I did immediately
after finishing the book, and it was the most expansive revision. I did another based on critique
partner comments, and another for my agent. I’m pretty sure I did a second, smaller revision for my
agent, too. On a whole, the revision process was fairly easy.

The drafting? Anything but. I think part of the reason revisions went so well for me was because I did
a lot of editing and revising while drafting.

2. How do you outline? (paper, post-its, google docs)

Clutter completely stresses me out, so I have no papers or Post-Its or note cards in my workspace.
Instead, I work exclusively in Scrivener. Using the corkboard function, I create note cards for the big
points in the story, then build from there. Once I start writing, I can see each chapter’s note card
(and any other notes) right in the sidebar. I love having a single contained space for everything
related to the story—it keeps me from forgetting any ideas.

3. How did you celebrate the news that your book would be published?

I can’t remember, but I bet it was with pizza. All of my best celebrations include pizza.

4. Did you do research before writing?

I did a bit of research before writing, for those aspects I knew for sure would shape the characters,
setting, and plot. But I find I do a lot more research while drafting and before and during the first
revision. That’s when I have a better idea of what exactly the plot entails and who the characters
really are.

5. If you could have any talent/job in the world besides writing, what would it be?

I’d love to have some kind of musical talent. I’m hopelessly tone deaf and find myself in awe of pretty
much anyone who can play an instrument or carry a tune. Honestly, I’d even take the ability play hot-
crossed buns on the recorder.

6. What genre do you typically read for enjoyment?

I find I most often reach for contemporary or fantasy novels (maybe that’s why my stories tend to be
contemporary with elements of fantasy), but I’ll pretty much read any genre. I love being surprised by
a fantastic book in one of my lesser-read genres. That usually kicks off a spree of reading similar

7. Did you have any input into your cover?

A teensy bit! The first version of the cover was very close to the finished cover, but the water was a
darker, more foreboding blue, the title blood red, and the island ominously dark. My agent, editor,
and I all agreed the book felt like a thriller or horror novel. This lighter version still carries the same
sense of mystery, but it’s clearer this is a character-driven treasure hunt—not the next Stephen King

8. What was your favorite scene or character to write?

It turns out I most enjoy writing two types of scenes: kissing and killing. I’m incredibly weird. But
here’s the thing: Both murder and make-out scenes are packed with emotion—and that, to me, is the
most fun to write.

For Gray Wolf Island, there are two deaths in particular that were so intensely emotional to
write—but also made for two of my very favorite scenes. I can’t say more than that because of
spoilers, but I hope readers will feel those deaths in their gut the way I did.
And then there’s a certain first kiss that I had so much fun writing. It’s kind of goofy and adorable, but
it’s the characters’ conversation just before the kiss that makes the scene one of my favorites.

9. Describe your book in 5 words.

Things aren’t as they seem.
Tracey Neithercott’s first book was written by hand and illustrated with some really fancy colored pencils. It was highly acclaimed by her mother. Now, she writes YA stories of friendship, love, murder, and magic. (None of which she illustrates—you’re welcome.) She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, who suggests improving her novels by adding Star Wars characters.

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