Recently on Facebook, I had a giveaway contest, and to enter, fans had to comment with the question they were MOST wanting answered in the Phantom Island series or about the author. Some of the questions were good enough that I thought I’d go ahead and answer them on here.ย 

Let’s start with the ones about the author…

1. What inspired you to write the series, and how do you come up with ideas? (submitted by Jana, Jennifer, & Paige)

I definitely take inspiration from a lot of different places and people. As a writer, I am first a student of LIFE – I study people, places, conflicts, situations… fascinated by the cycle of everyday life and how it affects people. And since I am primarily around teenagers, I observe and interact with that world A LOT. ย All of that filters into my writing, so a lot of my characters and conflicts and even setting come from real experiences. One of my 7th grade boys who is reading my book right now kept calling me to his desk this week after Benchmark testing to say, “Oh my gosh, Mrs. D, Whitnee sounds just like you! And, look, Whitnee hates crickets! Remember the first day of school when that cricket got into your shirt…?! Did you really have one in your shoe?” Yes, I really did – at a camp on the Frio River in 6th grade – and, yes, the shoe flew across the dirt road (not the cafeteria). Anyway, I do think it’s hard for writers to pinpoint exactly where ideas come from – I feel like, as I’m taking in life around me, I’m turning it into new stories in my head. But if you want more information about specific inspirations for the Island, etc, check out my website here –> Phantom FAQ’s. I answer this question in a lot more detail!

2. When writing the book originally, did you ever need to erase the whole thing (or put it to the side) and start over only taking the best snippets from the original? (submitted by Sonja)

Sonja, I am wondering if you’ve had this experience…? ๐Ÿ™‚ Fortunately, no, I’ve never had to do this with a Phantom Island book. Part of that is because I really spend a lot of time and thought planning out the books first – that way, I avoid writing myself into a corner. But I have started multiple books only to not finish them, so… I’m a lot more intentional with this series. ๐Ÿ™‚ Keep writing, girl!

3. What is your favorite book of the Phantom Island series? (submitted by Alaina)

Welllll… considering I’ve only written two so far…? Haha. Actually, Wind will always be special to me because it was the first, and because the story took shape almost without my help… As Whitnee experienced the Island, so did I – it was so much fun! ๐Ÿ™‚ But I will say that I like Water even better than Wind. In a sequel, you get to see your characters become richer, the plot deeper, the stakes higher… I explored a lot of tough topics in Water that are close to my heart. And I can honestly say that I am really happy with how everything cycled together between Wind and Water. A lot of secrets and questions answered… and more created, of course.

4. Where do you find the confidence to keep going, to finish, to know it’s the best it can be? (submitted by Lindsey)

Confidence… ahh. Such a tricky thing. Confidence to keep going? I’ve definitely had random freak-out moments during all aspects of this journey – the writing process, the publishing process, the book touring process. But, in the end, I have to remain faithful to what I believe I’m supposed to do. And in those freak-out moments, I keep my support system very close. I have friends and family who are faithful to encourage me and exhort me with godly wisdom and perspective. As for releasing a book in its finality… I don’t know any writer who is ever completely “through” with a book even when it’s published. Since imagination is a living, growing thing within a writer’s mind, ideas are always blooming… but there does come a point when the book is what it is. It’s certainly hard to let go, though, and put it in its immortal, published state. ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

Now for specific questions about the Phantom Island books…

5. Will Whitnee find her dad and/or what really happened to him? (submitted by Amy, Missy, Shayla, & Ginger)

All I will say is that the situation with Whitnee’s father is a major plot motivator in Water… You WILL get the answers you’re looking for – some as early as the PROLOGUE in Water. (Ooohhh… that was a major giveaway.)

6. How does Whitnee get back on the Island? Do they all go back? (submitted by Trisha)

I think it’s safe to say that she WILL get back – otherwise, it wouldn’t be called the PHANTOM ISLAND series. ๐Ÿ™‚ But how she gets back and who goes with her is always different…

7. I want to know how the portal works and how the apparent multiple openings (Texas, Hawaii, etc.) are all connected… is it like a “Stargate” thing where you have to have the mechanism on both ends, or it is like a “Star Trek” wormhole that is a random phenomena… can you get back through the same way in the same place again, or is it like “Narnia” and you can’t go back through the wardrobe??? (submitted by Shannan)

GREAT QUESTION. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love that someone out there wonders this… All I will say is that more light is shed about this in Water, too, as it is very important. The portal is, after all, a tricky thing and something that few people know or understand on the Island. However, I will remind you of an important quote from Wind… “Some phenomena cannot always be explained by science and reason…” ย 

8.ย Who is the inside source? Who’s really bad that we think is good? (submitted by Alisa)

Love this question, too, because it means this reader has paid attention to details in Wind! Yes, at the end of Wind, Abrianna alludes to a “traitor” or “inside source” within Whitnee’s circle of trust… you should wonder about this person. And this will be a point of mystery and conflict within Water, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

9.ย Who was it that was whispering Whitnee’s name through the forest on the other side of the camp in the portal? (submitted by Shayla)

Another great question by a reader paying attention to details! I think Shayla is referring to the moment right before Whit transported from Camp Fusion… she heard her name being called. I cannot answer this one at this point, but I will be curious to hear theories on it from readers after they finishย Water. ๐Ÿ™‚


10. Will Whitnee end up with Gabriel or Caleb? (submitted by Brittney, Olivia, Haley… and almost every other female reader)

Guess you’ll have to read to find out the answer to this one. I will hint that Caleb plays a bigger role in this love triangle throughout Water… you didn’t really think he was going to back down and play nice, did you? ๐Ÿ˜€