Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Shawn Peters here to share about his MG contemporary adventure Unforgettable Logan Foster. It sounds like a funny, action-packed story that I’m excited to read.
Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:
Packed with superheroes, supervillains, and epic showdowns between good and evil, The Unforgettable Logan Foster from debut author Shawn Peter shows that sometimes being a hero is just about being yourself.
Logan Foster has pretty much given up on the idea of ever being adopted. It could have something to with his awkward manner, his photographic memory, or his affection for reciting curious facts, but whatever the cause, Logan and his "PP's" (prospective parents) have never clicked.
Then everything changes when Gil and Margie arrive. Although they aren't exactly perfect themselves--Gil has the punniest sense of humor and Margie's cooking would have anyone running for the hills--they genuinely seem to care.
But it doesn't take Logan long to notice some very odd things about them. They are out at all hours, they never seem to eat, and there's a part of the house that is protected by some pretty elaborate security.
No matter what Logan could have imagined, nothing prepared him for the truth: His PP's are actually superheroes, and they're being hunted down by dastardly forces. Logan's found himself caught in the middle in a massive battle and the very fate of the world may hang in the balance. Will Logan be able to find a way to save the day and his new family?
Hi Logan! Thanks so much for joining us.
1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.
2. The short answer is I became a writer because I wasn’t a good enough actor when I was a kid to land the starring role in “Honey I Shrunk the Kids.” Longer answer: I was the son of a TV writer and a sports journalist and since I wasn’t ever gonna be a pro-athlete, all I wanted was to be an actor. I came close a few times – including the Rick Moranis flick mentioned above -- but never got cast in a big role. So, in my early 20s, I switched focus to being behind a keyboard instead of in front of a camera. Since then, I’ve written questionable TV shows about police videos and makeovers, rom-com screenplays that never got made, magazine articles about being a husband and father, online columns about fantasy sports, and dozens of television commercials and digital ads. Along the way, I started reading books to my two kids (who are now 21 and 16) and fell in love with Middle Grade literature again. So, when I decided to try writing books, I knew that was who I wanted to write for.
2. That’s cool that you come from a family of writers. Where did you get the idea for The Unforgettable Logan Foster?
I don’t really remember when I had “the idea.” It was more like I had a bunch of things converge that made the idea form on its own. I was a kid with a semi-photographic memory— I could remember fine details of things I'd read and was super good at remembering the lines at those auditions, even if I never got the part. Also, I loved comic books and would study the heroes’ and villains’ powers as much as the actual art and stories. So, some of the inspiration was from myself at that age. But then, about eight years ago, our best friends at the time had a son who'd been diagnosed with high-functioning autism and over years of our families spending time together, my conversations with him always sparked my imagination because of the way his mind worked. Between my wife being a teacher and me being a coach in local town sports, I met more kids who were neurodivergent and were thriving once they weren’t asked to learn and process input the exact same way as everyone else, but when I was reading adventure and fantasy books to my children, I didn’t see a ton of kids like them as the hero of those stories. Then I read Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson” books and adored the way he positioned things like ADHD and Dyslexia as demi-god traits. That definitely got my mind thinking about how things like that could be portrayed as strengths. So, that’s where the idea of a neurodivergent orphan with a one-in-a-billion memory getting adopted by superheroes all mashed-up and became this book.
3. Your story sounds like an action-packed story. How did you keep the action going and make this a page turner?
I think this where all the TV and movie writing comes in. When you’re writing something for the screen, you know you need certain big scenes every so often; either really funny or super emotional or genuinely exciting. It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to craft a three-minute segment about a car chase or a two-hour high school adaptation of “Much Ado About Nothing.” So, while developing this book, I basically went through a kept track of what chapters had action and which had big emotional stakes, and then started cutting out the ones that had neither. But I’d be lying if I said I did it successfully all on my own. My agent, Rick Richter, comes from the editorial world and he was lovingly merciless leading up to the book sale, ensuring the draft was tight. Then there’s David Linker, my editor, who I think might know my main character better than I do. He pushed me to up the stakes, and even had me make the book a smidge longer with a bigger finish. Throw in several chapters that end in cliffhangers and I’ve hopefully created a book that’s hard to put down.
4. That’s great advice for focusing on each chapter to be sure that they have action or emotional stakes. It’s hard for many writers, including me, to write humor. Reviewers have described your story as funny. What are your tips for writing scenes that make readers laugh?
I’m glad that readers are getting the humor, because it’s a huge part of the book and I’m a believer in the value in creating something that makes the audience laugh and maybe cry a little. In general, I believe good comedy is about misdirection – kinda like magic—where you lead the reader one way and then turn it quick, just as they’re feeling confident they know where things are headed. I use this technique a few times in the book when things look dire and suddenly, the tension is released all at once. But in this book, I also think a great deal of the humor comes from the reader being inside Logan’s head. He’s so factual that what when he thinks a thing, he says it out loud, unfiltered without any malice. Even if the reader knows it might not be the most tactful thing to say, they also know it’s undoubtably true.
5. Adoption isn’t really dealt with in too many MG or YA stories, What made you decide to have Logan living with a prospective family? What research, if any, did you do so that you’d get the issues he’s dealing with right?
I knew I wanted Logan to be an orphan from the start for two reasons. The first is because so many superheroes are canonically orphans. Superman, Batman, Black Widow, Spiderman… it’s pretty much part of the lore and a key ingredient to most of their origin stories. But the other thing I wanted to accomplish was to tell a story about a kid who had been made to feel abnormal by those around them until he finds people who value him for exactly who he is. By giving Logan a found family where his foster parents are superhumans, he suddenly gets to feel like the “normal” one in the family, even though he knows that word means nothing. Again, him being an orphan facilitates that narrative. All that said, I will admit that I know for a fact that I didn’t get a lot of the legal/logistical facts right. There are no traditional orphanages anymore and the California Department of Social Services would definitely take issue with my depiction. But in a book full of real obscure facts and actual places and names, this was a liberty I felt I could take in a story full of superheroes, super-villains and global conspiracies. So, while topics like Logan searching for his birth-sibling and deciding whether he wants to be adopted are in this book, I wouldn’t classify it as an “adoption” story meant to tackle those issues.
6. What was your road to publication like?
Kind of like your average rollercoaster, with a long, long, LONG grind up the hill, wondering if I should get off, followed by sudden, rapid acceleration with a ton of curves. For five years after I wrote my first draft, I was revising, sharing it with a few people, querying and getting a handful of full requests from agents. I submitted to one publisher who I knew through a mutual friend and she consider the book for 18 months before passing. But along the way, my wife (also my biggest fan) asked if she could share the book with her 5th graders at the elementary school in our town where she taught. The kids loved the book so much-- especially some reluctant readers, neurodivergent students and even one girl who was an adoptee— that I knew I had to keep going. Plus, their perspectives really helped me do one more big revision. Soon after that, I entered it into the Marblehead Festival for the Arts and won, and a year later, in the summer of 2019, I was agented and then things really started moving. Less than six months after signing, I went on sub, sold at auction to Harper Collins, and then a month later, the pandemic hit and I spent all that lockdown time revising. But the rollercoaster continues right up to publication. Like so many others, my pub date was pushed because of supply chain and shipping woes, which has created its own set of wrinkles. Still, compared to so many of the other #22Debuts I’ve gotten know, my path has been smooth,
7. What’s something that surprised you about the process of getting published and why?
I think the most surprising thing is the pace of publication. When I worked in Hollywood, there were times we finished an episode and it aired a few weeks later. In advertising, we may work on a campaign for months, but once we have a finished product, it can be in-market in weeks if not days. We live in a time when a TikTok can be made in 15 seconds and have a million views that night. That’s why it still takes work to get my head around the idea that a manuscript is “accepted” a full year before it ends up in readers hands or that I sold a book in February of 2020 that comes out in January of 2022. But like I mentioned above, any hiccup in the process impacts all the timelines, because unlike digital mediums that can be corrected up until the final moments, it takes time to copyedit, proof, format, print, ship and shelf physical books.
8. What have you been doing to promote your book and celebrate its release? What are your future marketing plans?
As a marketing professional… I admit, I’ve felt behind from the beginning in terms of promoting myself. I should be good at this, right? I built my website, upped my twitter presence which, until this, had mostly been me making nerdy puns under the handle @DnD_DadJokes . I’ve been getting to know the amazing folks who love MiddleGrade books, like yourself and the amazing people at www.MGBookVillage.org , which is where I did my cover reveal last summer. Also, I only got a handful of physical ARCs, but I made sure a few went to ARC sharing groups like #BookAllies, #BookPosse, #BookSojourn and #BookExcursion, and they have been such amazing sources of encouragement and early buzz. Right now, I’m doing a lot of online Q&As and guest posts.
9. What are you working on now?
I’m just wrapping up revisions on a sequel to THE UNFORGETTABLE LOGAN FOSTER that is due out from Harper Collins next year, scheduled for January 3rd, 2023. The story picks up a month after book one ends, and we get to see the fallout of Logan’s first adventure as he and his found family are adjusting to their new lives together. Logan is in a new school, makes some new friends, and finds out some new information that might lead to unraveling the mystery of how he became an orphan, and who his real parents might be. Plus there’s a cute dog and a ton more awful dad jokes from his foster father. Beyond that, we will have to see if Logan’s story continues, but in the meantime, I’m working on another MG book about a kid who is having an ultra- rough start to a school year that could get a little better or a whole lot worse when he ends up in possession of a very special smartphone. That’s my current work-in-progress, but I’m learning quickly that it’s a writer’s job to always be writing the next thing.
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Shawn. You can find Shawn at his website www.shawnpeterswrites.com and on twitter at https://twitter.com/ShawnTweeters . And if you like Superhero Puns, there are plenty of them at https://www.tiktok.com/@writtenbyshawnpeters
Shawn has generously offered a hardback of The Unforgettable Logan Foster for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by February 5th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is U.S.
Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways
Tuesday, February 1st I’m participating in the Heart to Heart Giveaway Hop
Wednesday, February 2nd I have an agent/author guest post with Nicole Resciniti and Lillie Lainoff and a giveaway of Lisa’s YA fairytale retelling All for One and a query critique giveaway
Monday, February 7th I have an interview with debut author Lisa Stringfellow and a giveaway of her MG fantasy A Comb of Wishes
Wednesday, February 9th I have an agent spotlight interview with Ginger Clark and a query critique giveaway
Monday, February 14th I have a guest post by Leigh Lewis and a giveaway of her MG nonfiction Pirate Queens: Dauntless Women Who Dared to Rule the High Seas
Wednesday, February 16th I’m participating in the Wish Big Giveaway Hop
Monday, February 21st I have an agent spotlight interview with Paige Terlip and a query critique giveaway
Hope to see you on Tuesday, February 1st!