New book alert! Dorothy and the Glass Key. Well, new to me at least. It’s been out for a few months now but I was recently sent the book. As I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, this isn’t a book review, but I’m going to give you a synopsis of the surrealist fantasy novel and a Q&A with author Christopher J. Finn.
Question: Tell us what Dorothy and the Glass Key is all about.
Christopher J. Finn: Dorothy and the Glass Key is a book which frames a teen’s desire to escape the harsh realities of personal and family trauma into physical, surrealistic realms. It follows 14-year-old Dorothy Alston, who had to grow up fast when her father’s alcohol-induced carelessness resulted in a house fire that claimed her mother’s life. Shortly after, Dorothy finds a new life on her uncle’s farm in Florida…but that doesn’t last for long. Flash forward thirty-four years later, and Dorothy is in a permanent vegetative state. But why? It’s up to Ellen Steward – the hard-working, slightly jaded administrator at an upscale rehab facility – to unravel the mystery that landed Dorothy in this condition. With some unexpected help, Ellen unwinds Dorothy’s fantastical narrative. It begins with a peculiar glass key that leads Dorothy to worlds that exist between time and space. She awakens a dark creature who feeds on the pain of the young, and soon Ellen discovers that even she is wrapped up in Dorothy’s strange saga. If she wants to save her, Ellen will have to give up everything. But if she fails, much more is at stake than anyone could have imagined.
Q: What gave you the idea for this story?
CJF: Believe it or not, Dorothy and the Glass Keybegan in the St. Charles County City Hall in Missouri. I have an uncanny ability to eavesdrop and was doing just that as I was waiting in the lobby. On this day, most of the conversations surrounded utility bills or directions to areas within the building. All but one.
An older woman with a wonderful raspy voice introduced herself to the city clerk, then said, “There’s a young gal who works here. My God, I wish I could remember her full name. Her first name’s Dorothy, and she always wears a glass key around her neck.” That’s all it took. Dorothy and the glass key. Name-dropped from heaven, right? I had no idea how the story would play out, no idea what the glass key would do. I had a name and an object. Two weeks later, I had a rough first draft!
Q: Is this a book about time travel?
CJF: Yes, and no. It’s not traditionally about time travel. Not in the sense where protagonist-A jumps in a time machine to a specific date. Instead, this is a book about realities through an intersection of points beyond time.
Q: The key – why does it only affect Dorothy?
CJF: The key doesn’t want her. She’s not the intended bearer, and the glass key is going to make sure she understands this. The keys have an instinct, and though they are far from cognizant, they do have a purpose. When the keys are mismatched, as in the case with Dorothy, they fight back in a quasi-magical state where its weight bears down on the unwanted owner. Dorothy, as you see with Ragesha and Charlie, is a teen dealing with trauma, and by all rights should be the prime recipient. So, why does the glass key weigh so heavily in her hands? Well, this is part of her race for answers. What is thekey, why does it exist, and what is it’s purpose? It’s a road which leads to many interesting plot twists.
Q: What’s the reason for the 20-year timespan between Charlie’s, Ragesha’s, and Dorothy’s timeline?
CJF: Right now? It means very little. It’s a pattern I do want you to remember, much like the other easter eggs dropped during her otherworldly travels. Numbers, patterns, locations… Numbers, patterns, and locations.
Q: You like to label the genre as surrealism-fantasy. Why is that?
CJF: Fantasy would certainly be the main genre category, but it doesn’t entirely fit. Neither would sci-fi, thriller, even magical realism. The book was written as if these key-worlds were part of a massive dreamscape. Dorothy’s home is very real. Charlie’s and Ragesha’s as well. You’ll see a recurring theme of the children’s desire to escape traumatic lives to a place where they can have fun and be children again. What’s more surrealistic than that?
Q: Fans of what other authors would be interested in Dorothy and the Glass Key?
CJF: Fans of Steven King’s mid works, Anthony Ryan’s early works, with a little Neil Gaiman thrown in the mix for good measure. I really enjoy the visual voice aspects of writing, and I think any who appreciate a read through characters rather than about characters would find Dorothy and the GlassKeyenjoyable.
Q: Is this book part of a series? Do you have more books planned?
CJF: This book is the first of three. The second, Dorothy and the Shades of Once Was, follows the events of the first book. Here you’ll find many answers to the questions you may have at the end of the Dorothy and the Glass Key, with a few more leading into the third. I’ll say this, the first book was fun. The follow-up, now in its second draft, is my favorite of the two.
Q: What do you hope reader’s take away from this story?
CJF: I don’t want an overlying message passed on to the readers. Seriously, there are so many books written by countless authors with enough life-lessons to fill a river. Writing, or perhaps a better term is storytelling, should take you away, not drag you into life’s complexities. But, if you—even subconsciously—press your hand against the keys in your pocket and wish for something more, then this is my message to you. Reality is what you make of it. The only thing keeping you from spinning that key in your pocket is you.
I’m looking forward to getting in to this book and will let you guys know what I think!
*This book was sent to me complimentary. This post contains an affiliate link.*