Kathie: Hi Shawn, and welcome to MG Book Village! It’s wonderful to connect with you and have a chance to be part of the cover reveal for your upcoming book The Unforgettable Logan Foster. Can you please tell us about it, and when it will be published?
Shawn: Thanks Kathie! I’m excited to be working with you and MG Book Village after months of Monday night #MGBookChats. I’m amazed by the community you’ve assembled.
Logan Foster is an undersized 12-year-old orphan with a photographic memory and zero filter. After a decade of never lasting with any foster family for too long, he has no expectations of ever being adopted and spends his spare time searching for the younger sibling he believes is still out there. But when he’s brought home by a kind, suburban couple who are clearly hiding something from him, Logan’s logical mind won’t stop until he uncovers the super-secret truth; superheroes are real… and his new foster folks are actual superhumans. Suddenly, he’s drawn into a world of hidden organizations, comic-book-level battles and the realization that something he has locked in his one-in-a-billion brain may make him the most valuable person in the world to a certain villain who has lived for thousands of years.
The book will come out on the first Tuesday of 2022, which is January 4th. So when you make a resolution to read more next year… The Unforgettable Logan Foster is available.
Kathie: This sounds like a very funny action-packed novel. Was this the type of book that you enjoyed reading as a kid?
Shawn: When I was a MG reader, I actually spread my attention around to a lot of different genres. I was a big fan of Roald Dahl, Madeline L’Engle, Terry Brooks and anything that had a precocious pre-teen genius like the “Encyclopedia Brown” books by Donald J. Sobol and all the “Great Brain” books by John Dennis Fitzgerald. Those characters definitely resonated with how I saw myself at that age, and they informed how I thought of Logan when I was writing him.
But whenever I was sick (and as a kid who had tonsils the size of racquet balls and a ton of allergies, I had my share of sick days), my parents would buy me comic books to read while I was home from school; Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Firestorm, Spiderman… and then there were these ones called “Marvel Universe” that were just a sequential, alphabetical encyclopedia of every hero or villain to ever appear in Marvel comics. I’d pore over them, reading their origin stories and comparing their powers and strength stats. At the time, that amount of information was only available in the series of comics, not online… because online wasn’t a thing yet. But these reference books made all the characters seem more real. Like there were actual facts to be learned about them. That stuck with me.
Kathie: Can you tell us a little bit about your main character and what you admire most about them?
Shawn: Logan is definitely based, in part, on myself at that age. But his voice and mannerisms draw on a few other young people I’ve known and even coached in town sports over the years. He’s neurodivergent, and has had a few different diagnoses over his years in the El Segundo Transitional Orphanage, but it’s his truly eidetic memory combined with his devotion to understanding the facts are core to how he organizes the world. He’s not a show off, and he really doesn’t mind too much what others think of him. But when there are assumptions that are wrong, whether it’s with his peers or in school or in the middle of a superhuman battle… he is compelled to deliver the facts.
So, what I admire most about him is his willingness to never try to be someone he isn’t. When I was the smallest kid in my grade, I definitely tried a lot of different things to feel anywhere in the same zip code as “cool.” Some, like getting good grades and doing theater and choosing the right time to make a joke in class kinda worked. Others, like my attempts to play tackle football at lunch when the Vice Principal wasn’t looking or the several months I dedicated to breakdancing didn’t fit as well. But Logan’s dedication to what he knows to be true about himself attracts some “super” supportive people to him, and in turn, gives him a chance to make a difference in their lives. He gets to grow without feeling like he has to change who he is.
Kathie: I’d love to hear who illustrated your cover, and what involvement you had in the process. What was your first reaction when you saw the cover?
Shawn: When my editor, David Linker, sent me a link (no pun intended… for once) to the portfolio of Petur Antonsson, I was sold. I was beyond sold, frankly. His covers for the UK editions of the Artemis Fowl books all just screamed “action and dangerous fun”, but then he showed so much sensitivity with how he portrayed the more unsure, less-than-heroic protagonists like his cover for Joshua S. Levy’s Seventh Grade vs. The Galaxy. I just knew he was the one who could place undersized Logan at the center of something that felt huge without him ever getting lost. Corina Lupp designed the cover for Harper Collins, and she was the one who had the vision to take a pivotal moment in the book and use it as a venue for introducing the tensions, the characters, and even a few Easter Eggs. I had my own ideas for the cover (I’m a creative director for an ad agency by day so I’m used to brainstorming on how words and images come together on a page), but this team knew when they hit on a concept that would get readers to grab it off the shelves. So from there, it was all about dialing in the characters’ looks and details. I definitely sent about 10 pages of character references throughout the process.
Kathie: OK, it’s time for the big reveal. Drum roll, please!
Kathie: Wow! I absolutely love this cover and I suspect the superhero theme will be very popular with young readers. Are there elements that were captured in the artwork that surprised you?
Shawn: So the superhero elements were definitely something I knew we needed because this book is written for kids who enjoy comics, maybe even graphic novels, and are waiting for something to resonate and draw them into chapter books where the story plays out in the reader’s inner movie theater. If this were for an older audience, maybe we could’ve tried to keep the mystery and been more cheeky with the cover, but for this age group, it felt so right. And then there are little things, like the way the letters in “Logan Foster” are shaded that just scream comic book in all the best ways. I asked for a hint of that Into the Spider-Verse vibe and they nailed it. Also, there’s something about the way the light from the projector highlights Logan’s hair that hits me right where I live. So much of this book is about Logan sharing what’s going on in between his ears. That’s where the reader gets his unfiltered thoughts and understands what makes him funny and brilliant and vulnerable. So the spotlight is exactly where it should be on this cover.
Kathie: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about your debut novel?
Shawn: I want to share the whole thing… another trait Logan and I have in common. We can both overshare. But I do think this book is made for kids who don’t feel like they ever get to see themselves reflected in the protagonists of these big, adventure-filled MG books. Harry Potter has some serious magic. Percy Jackson is a demi-god with one of the “big three” as his dad. Logan is a kid who is the smallest, youngest, and smartest kid in his grade, and he has no fantasies about that changing or ever making him more popular. The things that make him special are perceived as odd or annoying by those around him when we meet him. My wife is an all-universe 5th grade teacher and she shared the book with more than a hundred students over two years so I could get feedback, and we saw how this story captured the imagination of students, especially boys, who weren’t big readers. They had no problem putting themselves in Logan’s shoes. So I hope those are the kinds of readers who will get the main message; anything can be a superpower in the right circumstances when we don’t run away from who we are.
Kathie: Where can we go to find out more about you and your writing?
Shawn: The easy answer is my website, www.shawnpeterswrites.com and Twitter where I’m @shawntweeters . (Sorry about that handle… I came up with it when Twitter was new I didn’t think it would last long)
But if you really want to go deep, join the “Written by Shawn Peters” Facebook page.There will be updates there about the book, any appearances, and honestly… a ton of comments from my mother, which will tell you everything you need to know about me and how I ended up like this.
Kathie: I’m excited to read a copy of this book when it’s available, Shawn, and I wish you all the best with the book’s release.
Shawn: Thanks Kathie. I appreciate the chance to show off the cover and connect with this community. I’m excited too… and nervous… but mostly excited. And hopefully we can do this again in a year, because the sequel is due out in early 2023.
SHAWN PETERS has spent more than two decades writing professionally for television and advertising. He lives outside of Boston with his superhero wife and two kids, and in his spare time, Shawn makes ultra-nerdy Dungeons and Dragons puns on Twitter under the handle @DnD_DadJokes