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  • Gallows Hill
  • Written by Lois Duncan
  • Format: Paperback | ISBN: 9780440227250
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Gallows Hill

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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE & AWARDS PRAISE & AWARDS
READER'S GUIDE READER'S GUIDE
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Role-playing takes on a terrifying cast when 17-year-old Sarah, who is posing as a fortune-teller for a school fair, begins to see actual visions that can predict the future. Frightened, the other students brand her a witch, setting off a chain of events that mirror the centuries-old Salem witch trials in more ways than one.

Excerpt

As that thought took form in her mind, Sarah found herself struck by a feeling of such abrupt and intense foreboding that it was as if a black void had opened directly in front of her.  In that instant of dislocation, as she fought to maintain her equilibrium and keep from tumbling headfirst into the pit of darkness, a voice seemed to shout directly into her right ear.

"Guilty as charged!" it bellowed.  "Away to Gallows Hill!"

"No!" Sarah heard herself whimper.  "I didn't really mean it!"

"Poor little Betty," another voice said more gently.  "The child is too frightened to remember.  "

Betty does remember, and she's sorry!  She never should have done it!

For an instant the chasm gaped wider, and then the illusion was gone as if it had never been.  With a gasp of relief, Sarah found herself safe again in the living room, where the only activity was on the television screen and the only voice was Kyra's, tinny and tiny at the other end of the phone line.

"You didn't mean what?" it was asking.  "Does that mean you've changed your mind?"

"Yes," Sarah said.  "I guess so.  But for Rosemary's sake, not yours.  I couldn't care less how 'cool' you think Eric Garrett is."

She replaced the receiver in slow motion and sat down on the sofa, feeling as if she had served a short stint in the Twilight Zone.  Whatever had caused her to have such a bizarre hallucination?  Gallows Hill, she thought, what a horrible name!  Why did it seem so familiar, as did the name Betty?  Had she read or heard about something like this on television?

"That's what I get for not eating," she told herself shakily.  "Low blood sugar can make people dizzy and disoriented."

It was not until she was standing at the microwave, watching the plate of lasagna rotate behind the glass, that she fully realized what she had agreed to.

What have I let myself in for? she thought with dismay.

Like it or not, she had committed to playing a fortune-teller.
Lois Duncan|Author Q&A

About Lois Duncan

Lois Duncan - Gallows Hill

Photo © Michael Mouchette

“My primary message (I hope) is that reading is fun. Another underlying message, which seems to work its way into many of my books, is the importance of taking responsibility for one’s own actions.”—Lois Duncan

Lois Duncan has received awards from the Mystery Writers of America and was the 1991 recipient of the School Library Journal/Young Adult Library Services Association Margaret K. Edwards Award. Many of her books have been named ALA Best Books for Young Adults.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Lois Duncan grew up in Sarasota, Florida, and from early childhood she knew she wanted to be a writer. She submitted her first story to a magazine at the age of 10 and made her first sale at 13. Throughout her high school years, she wrote regularly for young people’s publications, particularly Seventeen magazine.

“My first book was a young adult novel because I wrote it at age 20, and teenage subject matter was all I knew about,” Duncan says. “Today, although I write other types of books as well, I still choose to write primarily for teenagers because I love the sensitivity, vulnerability, and responsiveness of that age reader.”

Duncan is best known for her brilliant psychological suspense novels. She was drawn to this genre because those were the books she most enjoyed reading. Of her writing technique, she once said, “Although I’ve been told that some authors start writing with only a general idea in mind and let their stories evolve on their own, I couldn’t work that way. My books are tightly plotted and carefully constructed; every sentence is there for a reason. Personally, I can’t imagine writing a book without knowing exactly how it’s going to end. It would be like setting out on a cross-country trip without a road map.”

Ironically, however, the story closest to Duncan’s heart still doesn’t have an ending. Who Killed My Daughter?, the heart-wrenching account of her search for the truth behind the murder of her 18-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, was written in real time as the horror story unfolded. When the Albuquerque, New Mexico, police department dubbed Kait’s death a random shooting, ignoring evidence to the contrary, Duncan launched her own investigation. Her search for the answers took her into the underworld of Vietnamese gangs and led her to seek the help of the nation’s top psychic detectives, who, along with a courageous newspaper reporter, provided information that proved to her that Kait’s death was far from random. Written to motivate informants, the book was featured on such shows as Good Morning, America, Larry King Live, and Unsolved Mysteries. “Tips have come in, but we still need concrete evidence,” says Duncan.

“I continue to believe that we will get it.”

Her next writing project was, by necessity, of a totally different nature. “There was no way I could force myself to create a fictional mystery when our real-life mystery was consuming me,” she says. “For sanity’s sake, I decided that I had to switch channels.” The result was The Circus Comes Home, a book for all ages about life behind the scenes at Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Duncan’s hometown was winter quarters for the circus in the 1940s, and her photographer father, Joseph Steinmetz, captured its magic on film. His remarkable photographs of elephants climbing onto the circus train; Emmett Kelly, the clown, in a bubble bath; and the Flying Wallendas teaching their four-year-old to walk the high wire provide stunning illustrations for Duncan’s colorful essay about “a life that was fashioned of sawdust and star dust.”

Duncan’s most popular teenage novels have had to do with psychic phenomena, a subject that she admits she used to consider fantasy. “Today I believe differently,” she says. “My experiences with psychic detectives during Kait’s murder investigation have forced me to change my mind about what is and isn’t possible. I feel a responsibility to let my readers know that ESP, as represented in books of mine such as A Gift of Magic and The Third Eye, is a reality.”

Her nonfiction book, Psychic Connections: A Journey into the Mysterious World of Psi, written in collaboration with William Roll, Ph.D., project director for the Psychical Research Foundation, introduces teenagers to the fascinating world of parapsychology. Based on laboratory research and documented case histories, Psychic Connections addresses such subjects as astral projection, near death experiences, apparitions and hauntings, poltergeists, clairvoyance, telepathy, and practical applications of ESP, such as the use of psychic detectives by law enforcement. Dr. Richard Broughton, Director of Research at the Institute for Parapsychology, calls this book “an engaging introduction to an aspect of human nature that may seem scary and mysterious, but ultimately will yield to scientific understanding.”

PRAISE


GALLOWS HILL

“Duncan delights in building suspense brick by brick until she has a whole creepy wall to collapse at the climax.”—Publishers Weekly

“Entertaining and enlightening, this is a book that should have wide appeal.”—VOYA

“An exciting, suspenseful tale that will certainly be welcomed by Duncan's many fans.”—School Library Journal


PSYCHIC CONNECTIONS
A Journey into the Mysterious World of Psi
(written in collaboration with William Roll, Ph.D.)

“It’s not often you find a book that gives you a solid education in a fascinating field, opens your mind to wider realities, and yet is easy and delightful to read, but Psychic Connections is one of these treasures.”—Charles Tart, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of California, Davis

THE CIRCUS COMES HOME
“A magical glance into the mysterious, exciting world of the circus.”—American Bookseller

“Fresh and magical.”—The Horn BookMagazine

“A fascinating insider’s view of a topic with perennial charm.”—Kirkus Reviews


DON’T LOOK BEHIND YOU

“A spellbinding tale of uniquely contemporary horror . . . fast paced and enthralling.”—Starred, School Library Journal

DOWN A DARK HALL
“Highly original . . . a gothic novel that is more a commentary on the dangers of education than of the perils of unrequited love.”—The New York Times Book Review

KILLING MR. GRIFFIN
“Brilliant . . . a powerful study of good and evil.”—Publishers Weekly

LOCKED IN TIME
“Impeccably structured, convincing and harrowing.”—Publishers Weekly

STRANGER WITH MY FACE
“The best of the sinister and supernatural. Spine-chilling.”—The New York Times Book Review

THE THIRD EYE
“Plenty of page-turning suspense. Chalk this up as another of [Duncan’s] winners.”—Booklist

THE TWISTED WINDOW
“Duncan skillfully draws readers into this twisting and suspenseful plot.”—School Library Journal

WHO KILLED MY DAUGHTER?
“Master storyteller Lois Duncan has proved that truth can be more heartbreaking, more moving, more terrible than any fiction. No one who reads this account of her search for her daughter’s murderer will ever forget it.”—Tony Hillerman

Author Q&A

Lois Duncan grew up in Sarasota, Florida and from early childhood she knew she wanted to be a writer. She submitted her first story to a magazine at the age of 10 and made her first sale at 13. Throughout her high-school years, she wrote regularly for young people's publications, particularly Seventeen Magazine.
"My first book was a young adult novel because I wrote it at age 20, and teenage subject matter was all I knew about," Duncan says. "Today, although I write other types of books as well, I still choose to write primarily for teenagers because I love the sensitivity, vulnerability and responsiveness of that age reader."
Duncan is best known for her brilliant psychological suspense novels. She was drawn to this genre because those were the books he enjoyed reading. Of her writing technique, she once said, "Although I've been told that some authors start writing with only a general idea in mind and let their stories evolve on their own, I couldn't work that way. My books are tightly plotted and carefully constructed; every sentence is there for a reason. Personally, I can't imagine writing a book without knowing exactly how it's going to end. It would be like setting out on a cross-country trip without a road map."
Her next writing project was, by necessity, of a totally different nature. "There was no way I could force myself to create a fictional mystery when our real-life mystery was consuming me," she says. "For sanity's sake, I decided that I had to switch channels." The result was The Circus Comes Home, a book for all ages about life behind the scenes at Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Duncan's home town was winter quarters for the circus in the 1940s, and her photographer father, Joseph Steinmetz, captured its magic on film. His remarkable photographs of elephants climbing onto the circus train, Emmett Kelly, the clown, in a bubble bath, and the Flying Wallendas teaching their four-year-old to walk the high wire provide stunning illustrations for Duncan's colorful essay about "a life that was fashioned of sawdust and star dust."
Duncan's most popular teenage novels have had to do with psychic phenomena, a subject that she admits she used to consider fantasy. "Today I believe differently," she says. "My experiences with psychic detectives during Kait's murder investigation have forced me to change my mind about what is and isn't possible. I feel a responsibility to let my readers know that ESP, as represented in books of mine such as A Gift of Magic and The Third Eye, is a reality." Other popular novels for teens by the author include Killing Mr. Griffen and I Know What You Did Last Summer, both of which were recently adapted for film.
Her nonfiction book, Psychic Connections: A Journey into the MysteriousWorld of Psi, written in collaboration with William Roll, Ph.D., projectdirector for the Psychical Research Foundation, introduces teenagers to thefascinating world of parapsychology. Based on laboratory research anddocumented case histories, Psychic Connections addresses such subjectsas astral projection, near-death experiences, apparitions and hauntings,poltergeists, clairvoyance, telepathy, and practical applications of ESP, suchas the use of psychic detectives by law enforcement.

author fun facts
Born: April 28 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Education: University of New Mexico
Currently lives: North Carolina
Favorite . . .

. . . hobbies:
photography
. . . foods: rare roast beef, spaghetti, avocados, tomatoes, shell fish, anything chocolate
. . . clothes to wear: shorts and bare feet in summer; jeans and sweat shirts in winter
. . colors:
yellow
. . . books: everything
Inspiration for writing: It's what I do. Like breathing.
If you would like to ask Lois Duncan a question of your own, send email to duncarq@interpath.com

Praise | Awards

Praise

Reviewers praise Lois Duncan:

For Gallows Hill:

"Duncan delights in building suspense brick by brick until she has a whole creepy wall to collapse at the climax."
--Publishers Weekly

"Entertaining and enlightening, this is a book that should have wide appeal."
--VOYA

"...An exciting, suspenseful tale that will certainly be welcomed by Duncan's many fans."
--School Library Journal

For The Twisted Window:

"Duncan is a true pro, grounding the twists of her plot lines with sure motivation and providing the reader with several surprises along the way."
--Kirkus Reviews


For Locked in Time:

"Duncan's new thriller is impeccably structured, convincing and harrowing...In the denouement, Duncan proves again her talent for outguessing even veteran mystery buffs."
--Publishers Weekly

For Stranger With My Face:

"The best of the sinister and supernatural is Lois Duncan's Stranger With My Face...Spine-chilling from top to bottom."
--The New York Times


From the Hardcover edition.

Awards

WINNER 2000 Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award
WINNER 1998 ALA Quick Pick for Young Adult Reluctant Readers
WINNER 1998 Texas TAYSHAS High School Reading List
WINNER 2000 Nevada Young Readers Master List
NOMINEE 2000 Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Award
Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide



ABOUT THIS BOOK

Seventeen-year-old Sarah Zoltanne, the main character in Gallows Hill, has just moved to California from a small Missouri town. Eager to fit in at her new high school, Sarah reluctantly agrees to run a fortune-telling booth at the annual carnival. This role-playing turns terrifying when Sarah begins to have visions that predict the future. Her frightened classmates set off a chain of events that makes Sarah the object of a modern-day witch-hunt.

ABOUT THIS AUTHOR

Lois Duncan grew up in Sarasota, Florida and from early childhood she knew she wanted to be a writer. She submitted her first story to a magazine at the age of 10 and made her first sale at 13. Throughout her high-school years, she wrote regularly for young people's publications, particularly Seventeen Magazine.

"My first book was a young adult novel because I wrote it at age 20, and teenage subject matter was all I knew about," Duncan says. "Today, although I write other types of books as well, I still choose to write primarily for teenagers because I love the sensitivity, vulnerability and responsiveness of that age reader."

TEACHING IDEAS

Lois Duncan, the most popular writer of suspense stories for young adults, presents characters that experience many of the same issues that today's teenagers face: acceptance, peer pressure, revenge, responsibility, and leadership are just a few.

Duncan's books are excellent choices for reading aloud and for engaging the class in meaningful dialogue. They also offer readers the thrill of a good mystery.

Pre-Reading Activity

Invite a police officer to talk with the students about teenaged crime in their city or town. What are the most frequent crimes committed by teenagers? How do pranks lead to crimes? Many teenaged criminals are good kids who made bad decisions. Engage the class in a discussion about what they should do if they suddenly find themselves in a prank about to turn bad.

Thematic Connections

Acceptance
Sarah in Gallows Hill, Susan in Killing Mr. Griffin, and April in Don't Look Behind You, are striving to be accepted by the kids at school. Ask students to discuss how each of these characters might be considered an outsider. Each girl, in her effort to be accepted, makes a bad decision and takes part in something that is very wrong. How does the desire to be accepted affect student behavior in most schools? Ask students to discuss news events where poor judgment and the desire to be accepted ended in tragedy. Engage the class in a discussion about ways to make an outsider feel accepted.

Peer Pressure
Eric in Gallows Hill, Mark in Killing Mr.Griffin, and Barry in I Know What You Did Last Summer are masters at manipulating their peers. Ask the class to discuss how peer pressure is related to the desire to be accepted by others. How are Sarah in Gallows Hill, Susan in Killing Mr. Griffin, and Julie in I Know What You Did Last Summer victims of peer pressure? Divide the class into small groups and ask them to role-play a real-life scene where a student is pressured. Then ask the class to discuss alternative scenarios.

Revenge
Ask students to define revenge. How is accusation used as a means of revenge in Gallows Hill? Have students discuss why Mark, Betsy, and Jeff are so intent on taking revenge upon their teacher in Killing Mr. Griffin. Discuss how revenge is the driving force behind the witness protection program. How is April the victim of revenge in Don't Look Behind You? How does Bud seek revenge in I Know What You Did Last Summer? What do these books say about the human propensity for vengeance?

Responsibility
In Duncan's books teenagers make very bad decisions that lead them into a life of guilt and lies. What consequences do these teens face for their deceit? At what point do the characters in each of these novels acknowledge that they are responsible for their actions? Ask students to discuss how Karen in The Third Eye and the five teenagers in Ransom appear more responsible than the characters in Duncan's other novels.

Leadership
In Gallows Hill and Killing Mr. Griffin, there are characters who use their leadership abilities to get others to do what they want. In Killing Mr. Griffin, Mark uses his handsome looks and popularity to get Susan and the others to go along with the plan to abduct Mr. Griffin. Eric, in Gallows Hill, uses his charm to persuade Sarah to continue to tell fortunes. Ask students to list and discuss the qualities one needs to be an effective leader. How might the teenagers in Ransom define a leader? Ask the class to name the students in their school who represent good leadership (e.g., president of the student government).

Interdisciplinary Connections

Language Arts
Most of Lois Duncan's novels are told from the viewpoint of one or two protagonists, but in Ransom, Duncan shifts the point of view among the five kidnapped teenagers. How does this technique enhance the story? Ask students to select a scene from one of Duncan's other novels and rewrite it from the point of view of another character. How does this change the effect of the novel?

Ask students to stage a talk show where Sarah in Gallows Hill and Susan in Killing Mr. Griffin are featured guests. Have the class question each girl about the mistakes they made, their feelings about the boys who led them astray, and what they have learned about their experiences.

Sarah in Gallows Hill and Karen in The Third Eye have psychic abilities. Ask students to write down the reasons each girl has for denying this

VOCABULARY

The vocabulary in Lois Duncan's books is not difficult, but students may enjoy exploring words connected to psychic phenomena like karma, reincarnation, and familiar.

AWARDS

Don't Look Behind You
New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

Killing Mr. Griffin
ALA Best of the Best Book for Young Adults
New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

Locked in Time
ALA Quick Pick
IRA-CBC Children's Choice
Nevada Young Readers Award

Stranger with My Face
ALA Best Book for Young Adults

Summer of Fear
California Young Reader Medal
New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

They Never Came Home
New Mexico Press Women's Zia Award

The Twisted Window
Junior Literary Guild Selection
New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age

FURTHER READING

Daughters of Eve by Lois Duncan[0-440-91864-2]
Don't Look Behind You by Lois Duncan[0-440-20729-0]
Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan[0-440-91805-7]
Driver's Ed by Caroline B. Cooney[0-385-32087-6]
I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson[0-385-32031-0]
I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan[0-440-22844-1]
Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan[0-440-94515-1]
Locked in Time by Lois Duncan[0-440-94942-4]
Psychic Connections by Lois Duncan[0-385-32072-8]
Ransom by Lois Duncan[0-440-97292-2]
Stranger with My Face by Lois Duncan[0-440-98356-8]
Summer of Fear by Lois Duncan[0-440-98324-X]
They Never Came Home by Lois Duncan[0-440-20780-0]
The Third Eye by Lois Duncan[0-440-98720-2]
The Twisted Window by Lois Duncan[0-440-20184-5]


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