I’m SUPER** excited to celebrate the Book Birthday and mg debut of THE UNFORGETTABLE LOGAN FOSTER, by Shawn Peters ( Harper Collins / Illus. Petur Antonsson). **See what I did there?
I was lucky to receive an ARC of this book and enjoyed it thoroughly and TODAY is its release day.
But don’t take my word for it:
“Peters folds laughs and action aplenty into a winning series opener that features both a ka-pow! premise and a particularly memorable addition to the recent uptick of neurodivergent narrators. ‘That,’ to quote Logan’s mantra, ‘is a fact.'” — Booklist (starred review)
I’m also SUPER excited to ask Shawn some questions:
Q 1. I love Logan’s voice, and his goal of communicating with his sibling– (No spoilers.) –and the fact that your wife’s 5th grade students lead you to this approach. Were there any other “notes” the 5th graders gave you that ended up in your manuscript?
Shawn Peters: Thank you so much for the compliment on Logan’s voice, and for having me on your blog on the book birthday for THE UNFORGETTABLE LOGAN FOSTER. You really don’t know whether you have something your reader will like, or better yet, love, until it’s in their hands. In general, the enthusiasm those 5th graders showed for this story and these characters was a massive influence because of the confidence it gave me, especially in terms of how neurodivergent readers might identify with Logan. But the biggest “note” they gave me was around who Logan was writing to in the book. In the original drafts, he was writing to his mother, who he can’t remember. But when I asked the kids about it, they were not huge fans; they all knew they weren’t Logan’s mom. But when I asked them if it would mean more if Logan was writing to someone their age, it was unanimous. That was when I got the idea to reframe it all as Logan speaking to a sibling he believes is out there, and that has made a HUGE difference.
Q 2. Which of the superheroes in your book might best represent your writing process or path to publication for THE UNFORGETTABLE LOGAN FOSTER:
- Quicksilver Siren
- Quarry Lord
Shawn Peters: This question might be my favorite of this whole pre-publication blog-a-palooza! [ED note: THANKS!]
Shawn Peters: It’s definitely not Seismyxer (I outline my books, so there are rarely seismic shifts) and I’m not feeling Quarry Lord or TideStrider. I’d say my process is a bit like Ultra-Quantum in that I work in short, fast bursts. I wrote the first draft of this book by committing to drafting a single page every night for a year. I’d write for twenty minutes, in between work, commuting, coaching my kids’ teams, making dinner and occasionally sleeping. But my path to publication was more like Quicksilver Siren, because to deal with rejected queries and submissions for the better part of five years, you need a little metal under your skin.
ED Note: So glad you didn’t give up!
Q 3. Were there any surprises that your illustrator Petur Antonsson brought to the book?
Shawn Peters: As soon as I saw Petur’s portfolio, especially some of his work on the UK versions of the Artemis Fowl series and Joshua S. Levy’s “Seventh Grade vs. The Universe” book, I was unabashedly thrilled he was doing my cover. But I had no idea until the cover was almost set that he was also adding several illustrations throughout the book. Each one is like a surprise mini comic book when you turn the page.
Hooray for Random Facts
–and copy editors!
“Kittyhawk Circle was named after the place where the Wright Brothers made their famous first flight on December 17, 1903…although to be fair, the flight was actually in Kill Devil Hills, which is almost four miles away from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. That is a fact.” –Logan FosterTHE UNFORGETTABLE LOGAN FOSTER, by Shawn Peters
(Harper Collins / Illus. Petur Antonsson)
Q 4. I’m a big fan of the random, SMART facts that spill from Logan’s eidetic memory. I noticed in your YouTube interview (Caution: spoilers) that your brain “collects” facts too. What’s your favorite fact in TULF? What’s one that got cut from your manuscript.
Shawn Peters: I’m a sucker for those random facts too, both in Logan’s world and my own. And it’s true that as a kid (and sometimes still) I’ll instantly retain a very specific fact that I’ve seen or heard. It was pretty helpful at school, I’ll admit.
But Logan has that trick times a million, and it is his “superpower” to be sure. My favorite example in the book is when he hears Spanish word and reveals what the same word means in Korean, but I can’t say more than that. As for facts that got cut out of the book, there weren’t many. In fact (no pun intended), Logan got even more factural in the editing process. That’s the thing about this book. So many of the locations and almost all of the details are actually real – the names of books, auditoriums, scientific quotations– that the fabulous copyeditors at Harper Collins actually had more questions when I made things up, because they couldn’t find actual citations.
Q 5. My first reading experiences—at least the books that hooked me the most — were comic books. Was that your experience too?
Shawn Peters: Reading comic books wasn’t my first reading experiences, per se, but they hold a really specific place in my heart. When I was home sick as a kid — and as a child with rampant allergies and tonsils the size of golf balls that never were removed, I had my share of sick days—my parents would go to the store and buy every comic book they had and I’d read them until I felt better. Maybe it was just the cough syrup and fevers, but it felt like those heroes were rescuing me from feeling so crummy. I even liked the Marvel Universe comics, which were basically just encyclopedias of all the heroes and villains and their origins. I never collected comics as a hobby, but I definitely held on to those characters and stories.
Q 6. What has surprised you most about the process as a debut author?
Shawn Peters: I’d say two things. The first is that everyone expects authors, even debuts, to “know” how the process is “supposed” to go. Being part of a debut group and then connecting with a few more established authors, I was shocked that everyone, even people working with the same imprints, have wildly different experience depending on genre, audience, editor and publicist. The standard is… there is no standard. And the second is that writers genuinely believe in the “pay it forward” ethos. When I was trying to write screenplays, it felt like writers were competing to get seen. At least among the Middle Grade writers I’ve met, everyone wants to help each other, both out of empathy and a sense of doing the right thing. The first thing a lot of debuts want to do, even before their books are out, is get a chance to be mentors for Pitch Wars and other contests. It legitimately feels like authors get that it’s not a zero-sum game; every time one person’s book “hits”, it actually creates more opportunity for all writers because it brings in more readers. It’s beautiful, and it spills over to all the librarians, bloggers, teachers and bookish folks who make up the community. The act of supporting others has zero downside.
To learn more about Shawn and his work, check out his web site ShawnPetersWrites
Heads up MASSACHUSETTS friends–
Don’t miss the in-person launch party for this awesome book TONIGHT!
January 18th ~ 6-7pm EST
at An Unlikely Story Bookstore, Plainville MA
You can also help Shawn celebrate–and buy a FIRST EDITION of his book–
on Saturday, Jan. 22nd – 3pm EST at Aesop’s Fable Bookstore, Holliston, MA.
Now about that #GIVEAWAY…
On the blog next week, Author / Illustrator team Ella Schwartz & Dow Phumiruk join us to talk about their new picture book, HER NAME WAS MARY KATHARINE —The Only Woman Whose Name Is on the Declaration of Independence (Christy Ottaviano Books).