The Mirror (Northwest Passage #5) by John A. Heldt-review and interview
ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date March 1, 2014
On September 11, 2020, Ginny and Katie Smith celebrate their nineteenth birthday at a country fair near Seattle. Ignoring the warnings of a fortune-teller, they enter a house of mirrors and exit in May 1964. Armed with the knowledge they need to return to their time, they try to make the most of what they believe will be a four-month vacation. But their sixties adventure becomes complicated when they meet a revered great-grandmother and fall in love with local boys. In THE MIRROR, the continuation of THE MINE and THE SHOW, the sisters find happiness and heartbreak as they confront unexpected challenges and gut-wrenching choices in the age of civil rights, the Beatles, and Vietnam.
5 out of 5 for this reader folks!
Know what I love about being a reviewer for this site?? Discovering authors that I likely would of never read, and providing amazing reviews for talent that should be bragged about. Well let me tell you, John A. Heldt is one of those authors. The Mirror is the 5th book in his time travelling series called The Northwest Passage and once again, I was blown away. The writing is crisp and refreshing, the mental images and emotions are clear and greatly felt. Pieces of real history come to life! There is a side of romance webbed within the story as well (I do love romance driven stories, and unless it’s non fiction, it has to have little something something going on for me to like it), BUT it wasn’t the romance that drew me in. John writes believability so well and that helps in this connection I feel with his characters and story line.
Okay .. so now that I have gushed like crazy, let’s get to the story! 😉
We start in 2020, at a country fair near Seattle. Twins Ginny and Katie (twin daughters of our previous time travelling couple Joel and Grace) have opted to have their fortunes read. After being warned that they are about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime, they check out the House of Mirrors. Next thing they know, it 1964 and they are faced with the reality of “Toto we are not in Kansas any more!”
Both girls are familiar with time travel, as their parents have spoken of their own experiences, so they decide to handle their situation logically. Realizing that they do have a way back after all, they decide to make the best of it and all that 1964 has to offer. Well before they know it, they are dealing with issues that are completely foreign to the rather liberal lives they live in 2020. Girl dress modestly, dating is a ritual, first and second base are a big deal, THE BEATLES (enough said there right?? LOL), Civil Rights movements, Vietnam and one topic that really stood out … interracial relationships.
Of course, no John A. Heldt book would be the same without running into a much younger family member that doesn’t realize they are actually interacting with great grand daughters (can you imagine??). The girls soon begin to understand that not only are times so very different, but there is a fine line that they must walk to make sure they do not mess with “the future” .. OR … “the past”!
The only crummy thing I am going to say is that this series ends here! I know it is ending for the right reason, and it is going out on a high note, but I dislike the feeling of saying good bye to a cast of characters that I really enjoyed reading about. There were many moments that I became emotionally invested in throughout this entire series. I do take heart and feel good that while all had ended quite nicely in this series, it is still on my shelf waiting for a rerun!
One of the best time travelling series I have ever read! Well done John! 🙂
HAPPY READING! 🙂
Copy supplied by the author
Reviewed by Rachel T.
TRC: Hi John and welcome to The Reading Café.
We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?
John: I’m a reference librarian, a former journalist, and a married father of three who was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. When I’m not writing, I like to fish, brew craft beer, and go for long walks with my dog.
TRC: What or who influenced your foray into writing?
John: I began writing for enjoyment in the first grade and kept it up over the years, thanks in part to encouragement from teachers, editors, fellow reporters, and finally a college friend who began publishing novels three years ago. When I saw the possibilities of doing the same, I began work on The Mine and haven’t let up.
TRC: The Mirror is the latest release in your Northwest Passage time-travel series. Would you please tell us something about the premise of the series?
John: If this series has a premise, it’s that people who travel to the time of their not-so-distant ancestors can make a mess of things if they’re not careful. All of the books are about choices and consequences and how each of us is shaped by the decisions we make. The protagonists in the series don’t alter the outcome of major historical events, but they do profoundly impact individual lives.
TRC: What is the premise of THE MIRROR?
John: I wrote The Mirror to answer lingering questions from The Mine and The Show, bring back a popular character from the first book, and end the series on a proper note. Though The Mirror is a new story, it is one that incorporates many of the themes and lessons of the books that preceded it.
TRC: Is The Mirror the final installment in the Northwest Passage series? If so, what plans do you have for your writing future?
John: The Mirror is the last book in the Northwest Passage series. I have already begun researching and outlining the first novel in the next series. Like the NWP books, the next set of novels will feature humor, romance, and modern protagonists who rediscover themselves and their ancestors in twentieth-century America.
TRC: Are any of the characters based in reality or a culmination of many different variables?
John: The characters in the NWP books are drawn from my own imagination.
TRC: Each storyline features a different leading couple. Can the books be read as stand-alones or are they interconnected?
Click HERE for our review of THE SHOW / THE MINE.
Click HERE for our review of THE FIRE.
John: The Mine and The Journey are stand-alone novels. The Fire and The Mirror can be read alone, though they are probably best enjoyed as sequels. The Show is the one exception in the series. It is essentially The Mine, Part II. Despite their differences, the books have much in common – including themes, venues, and even characters. Joel Smith and his mother Cindy appear in each of the five works.
TRC: What challenges or difficulties (research, logistics, background, historical accuracy etc) did you encounter writing this particular story and series?
John: In researching and writing four of the five books, I relied heavily on outside sources. I was not around in 1910, 1918, and 1941 – and don’t remember much of 1964 – so I had to learn about those years through books, articles, web sites, and oral histories. The research wasn’t challenging, but it was time-consuming. I did very little research for The Journey. I lived in eastern Oregon as a teen in 1979 and 1980 and remember the place and time vividly.
TRC: If you could virtually cast the leading characters in this storyline, which models or actors best represents your ideal image?
John: The leading characters in The Mirror are blond nineteen-year-old twin sisters. Katherine Heigl and Kate Hudson at that age would have been perfect for the roles.
TRC: When writing a storyline, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?
John: I direct the characters at the beginning. But there is a point in every book where the characters develop their own voice and personality. When that happens, I turn the manuscript over to the characters and go with the flow.
TRC: The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the storyline so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen?
John: A good writer must put himself in the head of his characters. He must approach a scene as if he is experiencing it firsthand – and not viewing it from the standpoint of a detached and dispassionate observer. If you can’t laugh or cry to scenes in your own book, you can’t expect readers to.
TRC: Where do you believe writers fail in this endeavor?
John: They don’t invest themselves in their characters.
TRC: Writer’s block is a very real phenomenon. How do you handle the pressures and anxiety of writer’s block?
John: I go for a long walk. Fresh air is the best remedy for writer’s block.
TRC: Many authors bounce ideas and information with other authors or friends and family. With whom do you bounce ideas?
John: When writing the first draft, I usually consult my wife. Later, I ask the opinions of beta readers.
TRC: On what are you currently working?
John: I have begun planning the first novel of the next series. It will be set in Galveston, Texas, in 1900.
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
John: I have a blog at:
Favorite TV Show
Last Movie You Saw
Dark or Milk Chocolate
Secret Celebrity Crush
Last Vacation Destination
Having to wait in long lines
TRC: Thank you John for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the release of THE MIRROR. We wish you all the best.