Kathie: Hi Betsy! Thank you so much for asking us to be part of the cover reveal for your upcoming middle-grade book THE POLTER-GHOST PROBLEM (scheduled for release on August 30th by Margaret K. McElderry Books. Can you give us a brief synopsis of it, please?

Betsy: Hi, Kathie! Thanks so much for hosting this spooky cover reveal! THE POLTER-GHOST PROBLEM is about three argumentative best friends who stumble on a haunted orphanage during an otherwise boring summer. The orphan ghosts aren’t the problem, though – in fact, they’re quite friendly in their own noncorporeal way. The problem is that they have been trapped at the hated orphanage by an angry poltergeist that won’t let them go until the boys follow its highly unusual and obscure instructions. 

Kathie: This book is a shift away from your previous books with its supernatural happenings. Why did you choose to go in this direction, and what was the writing experience like for you?

Betsy: When I began writing this book, one of my nephews was obsessed with those TV shows featuring investigations into real hauntings. So I started writing this for him, and my goal was an eerie, spine-tingling book. But me being me, I managed to get the word “underpants” into the first paragraph, so it morphed into a spooky-funny hybrid from the beginning. I doubt anyone would truly get a fright out of it, but I hope they get a few laughs! (PS: That nephew is about to graduate from college. These things take time.)

Kathie: Can you tell us a little bit about your main characters?

Betsy: The main characters are three middle-school boys: Aldo, Pen, and Jasper. They are narrating the book as a trio, though Aldo is typing, so he gets the last say for the most part. (This despite his self-confessed acute case of verbal diarrhea and over-familiarity with the thesaurus.) The boys agree on almost nothing, so the narrative is in some ways a 50,000-word argument about how to describe what happened to them over one hair-raising summer. 

Kathie: It sounds like this is a very humorous spooky story. What do you most enjoy about writing stories that make readers laugh?

Betsy: I think there’s humor to be found even in scary situations, so my characters tend to make comments that other, more dignified characters would leave off the page. Let’s face it: If you’re battling a giant squid ghost, at some point you will at least think about the phrase “battered squid” in the seafood sense. My characters just go ahead and admit it. 

Kathie: Let’s talk about the cover. I believe this is the same illustrator who did the cover for WELCOME TO DWEEB CLUB?

Betsy: Yes, the amazing team of Lisa K. Weber (illustrator) and Rebecca Syracuse (designer) reunited for THE POLTER-GHOST PROBLEM, and I’m so glad they did. Lisa is great at bringing my characters to life and making them look suitably nervous. 

Kathie: OK, let’s show everyone what it looks like?

Kathie: What a great spooky cover! I really like how the colors jump out with the teal background. Can you point out one element that you really like?

Betsy: I agree that the color is gorgeous. I also love the swirl of ghostly and poltergeistly activity around Pen, Jasper, and Aldo. My favorite thing is the pink china poodle flying at them. That was a special request on my part! (The haunted orphanage features tons of tacky knickknacks, which make hazardous projectiles.)

Kathie: What’s something you’d like readers to know about this book?

Betsy: First of all, I want them to know that it’s mostly funny and only a little bit scary. So they can carry this book around and impress their peers with their daring without actually having to leave a nightlight on after reading it. Second, I like to think that this is the first-ever middle-grade novel to feature an index! It’s completely useless, but it was so fun to make. 

Kathie: Where can our readers go to find out more about you and your writing?

Betsy: They can visit my website,, which has recently been updated with some fun stuff about this book. They can also follow me on Twitter @BetsyUhrig

Kathie: Thanks for chatting with me today, and best of luck with the buildup to the book’s release!

Betsy: Thanks so much for indulging me, Kathie! Nothing I love more than a low-pressure chat about my books! 

Betsy Uhrig is the author of the middle-grade novels Double the Danger and Zero Zucchini, Welcome to Dweeb Club, and The Polter-Ghost Problem (all from McElderry / Simon &Schuster). She was born and raised in Greater Boston, where she lives with her family and even more books than you are picturing. She graduated from Smith College with a degree in English and has worked in publishing ever since. She writes books for children instead of doing things that aren’t as fun. For more information about her and her cats, visit

Kathie interviews herself about IF YOU CAN DREAM IT, YOU CAN DO IT

Kathie: Welcome to MG Book Village, Kathie! How does it feel to be on the other side of this interview process?

Me: Why, thank you, Kathie; I’m a HUGE fan of MG Book Village!!! I honestly didn’t think this day would ever come, so it’s beyond exciting for me.

Kathie: You have the honour of making your writing debut alongside author extraordinaire Colleen Nelson. Can you tell us a bit about IF YOU CAN DREAM IT, YOU CAN DO IT: How 25 inspiring individuals found their dream jobs that releases on October 25th from Pajama Press?

Me: Of course, thanks for asking! Colleen and I interviewed 25 individuals with very cool jobs and asked them how they ended up doing the work they love. We wanted our readers to see their training, what they actually did on an average day, and share advice for kids interested in pursuing similar work. With each profile, we also included helpful information such as spin-off jobs, pro-tips to help prepare for that type of work, and inspiring young people currently exploring similar career paths. Scot Ritchie did a fantastic job on the illustrations, and I’m thrilled with how the final book turned out.

Kathie: What sparked the idea for this book?

Me: Colleen and I started the monthly MG Lit Online Book Club two years ago, so we knew that we worked well together. When I mentioned one day that I had taken a course on writing nonfiction for children and had published a magazine article, she started to think more seriously about her idea to write a nonfiction book about kids figuring out what they wanted to do when they grew up. When she approached me with the idea of working together on a book to highlight a variety of dream jobs, I immediately said yes.

Kathie: How did you choose the individuals you included in the book?

Me: We spent a lot of time searching for people with a wide range of backgrounds and unique perspectives in their fields. For instance, I interviewed one of a handful of female smokejumpers in the United States, while Colleen interviewed a Canadian barber who caters his services to transgender clients. We wanted kids to pick up our book and see a world of possibilities.

Kathie: Tell us what it was like co-writing with Colleen?

Me: Working with a well-established author like Colleen was a godsend. I learned so much from her, and she was incredibly generous in answering all my questions. I’d never considered co-writing a book but discovered I loved having someone to bounce ideas off and working collaboratively. I experienced my share of imposter syndrome as an unpublished author working with someone well-established in the writing community. Still, I learned that I brought valuable skills, ideas, and perspectives to this project, and I’m so proud of the finished product.

Kathie: What do you hope young readers will take away from your book?

Me: My daughter is almost 19 and heading off to university in September (I dedicated this book to her as she sets off in search of her own dream job). She felt so much pressure to have her career path figured out before graduating from high school. I really want young readers to see that many of these successful individuals had no idea what they wanted to do at that point in their lives. Many “fell” into their dream jobs while on the road to someplace else. I hope kids are inspired to pursue their passions and work through the bumps in the road to get to a place where they are doing work they love.

Kathie: Where can we go to find out more about you and your writing?

Me: Colleen’s website is, and you can find her on Instagram at @colleennelsonauthor or Twitter at @colleennelson14. You can find me on Twitter or Instagram at @KathieMacIsaac, and at the Bit About Books blog with Laurie Hnatiuk.

Kathie MacIsaac is an award-winning literacy advocate who is passionate about books for middle-grade readers. She is a co-author of the blog Bit About Books and a co-founder of the website MG Book Village, which facilitates connection between members of the middle-grade community. Kathie manages the children’s department of the Headingley Municipal Library near Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she lives with her husband and daughter.  If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It: How 25 inspiring individuals found their dream jobs is her first book.

Interview with Xiran Jay Zhao about ZACHARY YING AND THE DRAGON EMPEROR

Kathie: Hi Xiran, and welcome to MG Book Village! Thanks for taking some time to chat with me about your debut middle-grade book, Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor, which comes out on May 10th from Margaret K. Elderry Books. I recently had the opportunity to read it and I loved it! Can you tell our readers a bit about it, please?

Xiran: Hello, Kathie! Zachary Ying is a middle grade adventure I pitch as Chinese Percy Jackson meets Yugioh. It features a 12-year-old Chinese American boy who’s not really connected to his Chinese heritage, but is compelled to go on a journey across China to fight historical and mythical figures and heist real artifacts after the First Emperor of China possesses his AR gaming headset.

Kathie: What five words would you use to describe Zack, and what do you think makes him such an appealing character?

Xiran: Shy, awkward, sensitive, gloomy, determined. I put a lot of my younger self into him, and I hope that his character arc shows what it means to stand up for yourself and break free from the impossible expectations of others.

Kathie: I really love the way you used technology to connect the past to the future, especially since connecting with others plays such a big part in your life with social media. If you had an AR gaming headset that would connect you to anyone, who would it be and why?

Xiran: I’d want to connect with the First Emperor’s famous chancellor Li Si, who supposedly betrayed him on his death bed and faked an edict to execute his assumed successor (his firstborn son, Prince Fusu) and pass the throne to his youngest son Huhai instead. This ultimately caused the fall of the Qin dynasty because Huhai was so irresponsible. But there are a lot of questions surrounding these events, and I’m so curious that I’d demand to know what really happened from Li Si. Also, he’d be able to tell me what kind of treasures were buried in the First Emperor’s mausoleum! The terracotta soldiers we know so well are only an insignificant part of his burial grounds, after all.

Kathie: There is so much interesting Chinese history packed into your story! What was your research process like, and did you know about these historical figures and events before you wrote the book?

Xiran: Yeah, pretty much all the historical tidbits were stuff I already knew and put in the book out of excitement. I didn’t do much extra research other than to confirm that the details were correct.

Kathie: Growing up in the Canadian school system, I’m amazed by how much world history I missed out on. What advice do you have for young readers who want to know more than they’re taught in the classroom?

Xiran: Don’t shy away from historical stories from non-Western societies! Often, they can be even more fun to learn about, since you’re not getting graded on them. HistoryTubers like Oversimplified and Cool History Bros make great animated videos on history. Or, if you don’t mind longer videos, there’s my own channel too 😛

Kathie: What’s one question you’d love to be asked about your book and why?

Xiran: What’s my favorite quote from the book? It’s “This isn’t even close to the worst thing I’ve ever done! I don’t know why we’re being punished for it!” Peak Qin Shi Huang right there.

Kathie: Are we going to see more of Zack’s story, and if so, is there anything you can share with us?

Xiran: There is definitely going to be a sequel. Maybe even multiple sequels…? Stay tuned!

Kathie: Where can our readers go to find out more about you and your writing?

Xiran: I’m on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Tumblr, all under @xiranjayzhao!

Kathie: Best of luck with your book’s release, and I look forward to hearing what young readers think of it!

Xiran: Thanks so much for inviting me to chat, Kathie!

Xiran Jay Zhao (they/them) is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Widow series. A first-gen Hui Chinese immigrant from small-town China to Vancouver, Canada, they were raised by the internet and made the inexplicable decision to leave their biochem degree in the dust to write books and make educational content instead. You can find them on Twitter for memes, Instagram for cosplays and fancy outfits, TikTok for fun short videos, and YouTube for long videos about Chinese history and culture. Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor is their first middle grade novel.

Interview with Karina Evans about GROW UP, TAHLIA WILKINS!

Kathie: Hi Karina, and welcome to MG Book Village! Your middle-grade debut novel, Grow up, Tahlia Wilkins, comes out on April 19th from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Can you tell us a bit about it, please?

Karina: Hi! Thank you for having me! Grow Up, Tahlia Wilkins! is a fun, coming-of-age romp all about friendship, puberty, and growing up—in all its awkward glory. 

Kathie: I absolutely loved the humor in this story, and that it’s SO relatable. What made you decide to write a book focusing on a girl getting her first period?

Karina: Oh, thank you so much!! Growing up, I really loved Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume because it talked about periods, crushes, and friend dynamics—all must-read subjects for me. I remember looking for books that were similar to it, but struggling to find stories with protagonists that had the same body-changing anxieties I did. When I decided to write middle grade books, I knew I wanted to write stories that would fit into that same ‘figuring out puberty’ vein.

Kathie: You did an excellent job educating readers while entertaining them. Why do you think many girls are still so unprepared given the resources?

Karina: There is still such a stigma around discussing puberty—specifically periods—with others. I think many people believe periods are something that should be endured and experienced privately (which is completely fine if that is your personal choice!). But if kids don’t have ‘what is going on with my body’ conversations with their peers and adults, then they may not be mentally or emotionally prepared for all the changes we go through.

Kathie: I love how creative Tahlia and Lily are with their solutions. Are you the type of person who plans ahead, or do you like to wing it as you go?

Karina: Hmm… tough question! Part of me is pretty meticulous when it comes to planning things like parties and trips, but another part of me (probably a much bigger part) is a total wing-er. I wrote the first draft of Grow Up, Tahlia Wilkins! without an outline, so I had to come up with all Tahlia and Lily’s crazy plans on the fly. I had a rough idea where I wanted the story to go, but had no idea how I was going to get there. Luckily, after many revisions, the story came together! However, I do not write without outlines any more. Too stressful. 

Kathie: What’s one thing you’ve learned as a debut author that you think would be helpful for others to know?

Karina: Ask questions! A lot happens between writing the book and having it on shelves, so it’s good to remember that your agent and editor are there for you. In both puberty and publishing, you should always feel comfortable to ask a trusted person “is this normal?”

Kathie: What’s something you’d like readers to know about your book?

Karina: After signing with an agent but before going on submission, I added nearly 15k words to the original story!

Kathie: Where can our readers go to find out more about you and your writing?

Karina: You can find me on Twitter: @karinaewrites, Instagram: @karinaevanswrites, and my website:

Kathie: Thank you so much for answering my questions today, Karina, and I can’t wait to purchase your book for my collection and start hearing from young readers!

Karina: Thank you so much for reading, Kathie!!

Karina Evans studied English at the University of Delaware before going into a career in the entertainment industry. She currently lives in Los Angeles, California, and Grow Up, Tahlia Wilkins! is her first novel. You can visit her online at

Interview with Jarod Roselló about THE CURSE OF THE EVIL EYE

*Thanks to Adrianna Cuevas for this sharing her interview with Jarod

I’m excited to chat with the amazing Jarod Roselló today for Middle Grade Book Village! Jarod’s upcoming graphic novel, Red Panda and Moon Bear: The Curse of the Evil Eye is full of hijinks, mayhem… and Cuban food!

What is your favorite part of creating the Red Panda and Moon Bear series?

I love telling stories that surprise me. My challenge to myself as a writer working on Red Panda & Moon Bear has been to open new mysteries and introduce new questions more than answer existing questions. It’s really fun to add elements in the background or into the story that I don’t know anything about. It gives me things to think through and try to solve in later chapters or books. The world of RP & MB is so magical and ever-growing, so this feels narratively relevant and appropriate for this series. 

Did any surprising challenges present themselves as you worked on this second book that hadn’t appeared in the first?

Working on a sequel means there’s a momentary panic at the start of the writing process where I realize I need to honor the first book, but also change some things. I was worried about not getting the tone right or altering the characters too much. I feel like my cartooning and drawing has gotten more sophisticated between the two books and so I wanted to try out new visual and narrative elements, but I didn’t want book 2 to feel really far off from book 1. So you’ll definitely notice some cool new things. 

I also wanted to incorporate more Spanish and Cuban culture into book 2. I’ve always been sheepish about my Spanish which is, admittedly, not great. So I had to be extra mindful of what I was doing and how. 

Probably the most challenging part of RP&MB2 was writing the ending. I didn’t know how to end it! I spent hours on the phone with my editor, Leigh Walton, working it out. A great editor knows how to help you through these issues without taking over. I’m grateful to get to work with Leigh, because we ended up with the perfect ending for this book. 

My son recently came home and told me that his school librarian only lets students check out graphic novels and comics if they also check out another book along with it because those are ‘dessert books.’ What are your thoughts on this view of comics and graphic novels?

Of course, I think it’s ridiculous! Anyone who has read graphic novels knows they’re complex narratives that rely on multiple modes of reading, interpretation, analysis, and reflection. Text in graphic novels tends to be advanced because we have images to scaffold and contextualize the narrative. Adults who discourage graphic novel reading probably aren’t reading graphic novels themselves and so don’t know how to appreciate them or understand them. Comics are also pop culture artifacts which rely heavily on the literacies and artistry of other media. This means they belong to children as much as they belong to adults—even though we’re the ones making them. Some adults are uncomfortable ceding control to children. But when it comes to comics, they’re almost certainly the experts. 

Are the characters in Red Panda and Moon Bear inspired by anything in your life?

Yes, they are! They were originally drawn as silly versions of my own children. But I became immediately invested in them as characters and started imagining what kinds of stories and adventures they would find themselves in. My daughter (who is ten now) used to complain that in children’s movies and books the adults never listen to the kids, and the kids always end up being right (it was actually a monster, the house is really haunted, their teacher is actually a shape-shifting slime-beast from Planet Q, etc.). I wanted to make a book that honored children’s agency and knowledge, where the kids were always right. 

What advice would you have for aspiring comic creators?

Make short comics! Start with comic strips. Put them up online or make copies to give to your friends. Practice drawing by mimicking your favorite comics and figure out what style feels right to you, then RUN WITH IT! Make lots of little things and when you feel comfortable, challenge yourself to tell longer stories. But most importantly, have fun! Drawing comics is hard and can be really tedious. If you don’t design a creative process you enjoy, you’ll never stick with it. 

What’s coming up next for you?

Red Panda & Moon Bear (Book 2): The Curse of the Evil Eye comes out this April! I have an early reader graphic novel series, Hugo & Dino, that comes out in 2023 from Random House Graphic. It’s about a boy who transforms himself into a dinosaur to go on adventures with his best friend, who is also a dinosaur. I’ve also been working in animation lately, which is really cool. I just finished my first pilot script for a top secret project. I hope I’ll be able to talk more about next fall. 

Jarod Roselló is a Cuban American writer, cartoonist, and teacher. He is the author of the middle-grade graphic novel Red Panda & Moon Bear, a Chicago Public Library and New York Public Library 2019 best book for young readers, and a 2019 Nerdy Award winner for graphic novels. His young reader graphic novel series, Hugo & Dino, is forthcoming from Random House Graphic in 2023.

His graphic novel, The Well-Dressed Bear Will (Never) be Found, was a 2015 Honorable Mention in the Publishers Weekly Graphic Novel Critics Poll, and his chapbook, The Star, was the winner of the 2015 Epiphany Magazine chapbook contest for graphic literature.

Jarod holds an MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in Curriculum & Instruction, both from The Pennsylvania State University. Originally from Miami, he now lives in Tampa, Florida, with his wife, kids, and dogs, and teaches in the creative writing program at the University of South Florida.

Fresh Starts by Diana Renn

Fresh Starts by Diana Renn

It’s launch day for my new middle grade novel, Trouble at Turtle Pond, and I’m delighted to celebrate here at Middle Grade Book Village. Thank you for hosting me!

Trouble at Turtle Pond is a friendship-centered eco mystery. When eleven-year-old Miles moves to Marsh Hollow, he’s desperate for a fresh start, eager to leave his troublemaking reputation behind. In his new neighborhood, nesting turtles are on the move. His neighbor, Pia, convinces him to join the Backyard Rangers, who are working to protect them. Miles and Pia discover clues to crimes against endangered Blanding’s turtles. Worse, a pair of foster turtle hatchlings in Pia’s care go missing at a town event. Suspecting poachers, the Backyard Rangers investigate a string of suspects. But when Miles becomes a suspect himself, he has to convince his new friends he’s not who they think he is, and stop the crimes before more turtles — and people — get hurt.

My road to publishing this book started with a turtle. When I moved to a new town, I nearly ran over one. I quickly discovered that turtles were among my neighbors. My human neighbors taught me how to move a turtle safely across a road. I also learned about other dangers turtles face, including predators and habitat loss.

Our local schools partnered with a conservation group to restore the population of Blanding’s turtles at a nearby wildlife refuge. Kids and teachers cared for hatchlings in their classrooms. Whenever I volunteered to help with turtle-related activities, I was in awe of how much advocacy was kid-powered, from hands-on care, to fundraising, to educating our community.

Volunteering with the conservation group turned into a family endeavor. We went turtle tracking with field biologists to locate nests. We fostered ten hatchlings for a month. I knew I had to write about turtles. My mystery-writing brain kicked in.

Previously, I had published three YA mysteries featuring globetrotting teens, and an international art heist thriller for adults. I now felt a strong pull to write mystery for younger readers, and to write about conservation issues closer to home. Like Miles in my story, I wanted a fresh start.

At first, I wasn’t sure I could write a “turtle thriller.” Would people find turtles as thrilling as I did? Then I hit plot snags. Who would be out to get turtles? Nobody in my real-life network seemed remotely capable of harming turtles or sabotaging a biologist’s efforts. Crafting criminals for this kind of mystery proved more challenging than I imagined.

Delving into research on wildlife crimes and consulting with experts gave me some real-life prototypes to consider, though. After a few false starts, the crime angle took shape.

I then realized this wasn’t really a thriller.Instead, I had all the ingredients for a cozy mystery: the quirky small town of Marsh Hollow, a team of young investigators with a cardboard box ranger station, a string of suspicious characters around town, and themes of friendship and belonging. So cozy mystery became another dimension of my fresh start.

Fresh starts are not without risks. The editor I’d worked with for three books had left for a fresh start of her own, so I’d be sending this out on submission. Then it turned out this book wasn’t a good fit for my agent. We agreed I should seek different representation for my books for younger readers. This was an unexpected fresh start. But I began querying for the first time in a decade, got some good feedback, some close calls, some no’s . . . and then the pandemic hit, greatly slowing the process down. 

I generally have some patience with slowness. Heck, I wrote a book about turtles. But the pandemic made querying timelines feel even less certain. It also brought a fresh sense of urgency to my desire to publish this book. I had a feeling that people might become even more interested in goings-on right in their own backyards, and that books with a grassroots conservation theme might become desirable, even helpful.

I decided to look into publishers that would take unsolicited manuscripts. A friend of mine loved her publisher, Regal House, and recommended I look at their expanding children’s book imprint, Fitzroy Books. I liked what I saw. They were a smaller traditional press, but mighty, growing, putting out excellent books that were getting great reviews and winning awards. Their values aligned with mine, even down to their sustainability statement on their website. They also moved quickly. They requested my full manuscript within 24 hours of my query.

By the end of July 2020, I had a signed contract in hand. It’s been an honor to work with the fantastic team at Regal House, and to get to know other authors there. There’s a wonderful collaborative spirit to marketing and promotion at this press, a true community effort, that reminds me very much of my grassroots work with the turtles.

In the process of getting the word out about this book, I’ve had the privilege of engaging with so many educators, bloggers, authors, and other readers, as well as scientists and conservationists. So publicity, too, has been a collaborative process that has energized me. Every day I feel that I’m still helping turtles by writing and talking about them.

It takes a lot of people to keep their eyes out for turtles and help them safely cross roads. It also takes a lot of observant, dedicated people to help a little cozy mystery about turtles find its readers in a busy marketplace. I’m happy I took some risks, tried a fresh start, and found my path forward with this book. I’m profoundly grateful to all the people who’ve taken an interest in Trouble at Turtle Pond and helped it along its journey!

Diana Renn is the author of the middle grade novel Trouble at Turtle Pond (Fitzroy Books / Regal House) as well three young adult mysteries: Tokyo Heist, Latitude Zero,and Blue Voyage (Viking / Penguin Random House). She also works as an editor and book coach. Diana lives outside of Boston with her husband and son, on a street she shares with turtles. Visit her online at

To find out more, or to get in touch with Diana:

Twitter @dianarenn

Instagram @dianarennbooks


Order a signed copy of TROUBLE AT TURTLE POND from Silver Unicorn Bookstore:

Order TROUBLE AT TURTLE POND wherever books are sold!

Interview with Shawn Peters about The Unforgettable Logan Foster

The Unforgettable Logan Foster

Hello, Shawn! Your debut MG novel is great! I’m so glad you’re here at MG Book Village to chat about The Unforgettable Logan Foster, which hit shelves in January. I’d love to start with you giving readers a brief summary of the novel.

Shawn: Hi Anne! I’m thrilled to be back at MG Book Village (where I did my cover reveal about nine months ago)! The book is about an undersized, neurodivergent, 12 year-old orphan named Logan who has an eidetic (photographic) memory, zero filter, and an abiding belief that someday he’ll find the younger sibling he was separated from when he was three years old. When a seemingly boring couple, Gil and Margie, bring him home, Logan notices some odd details. While he’s trying to put his observations together to form a rational explanation, the family is attacked by an earthquake-making super villain and he realizes his foster parents are superheroes. Superpowers are real!

Anne: I love it. One of the book’s themes is that superheroes live among us, or to put it another way, it’s the sense that everyone has a superpower inside them. Did you start writing with this theme in mind? What was the spark that ignited Logan’s story for you?

Shawn: I most definitely believe that superpowers are real in the sense that everyone has something about them that may make them feel different, but also (if they lean into it) feel special. So yes, from the start I wanted to include that meta-message. When I visit classrooms, I do an improv-inspired exercise where we create a fictional superhero, then make up an adventure and our superhero has to save the day using their one special skill or trait. It’s silly and fun and I get the kids to do sound effects, but the real message is that in the right circumstances, anything that makes a kid different could be super valuable.

Anne: Oh, I’d love to be in that classroom! Your novel is action-packed and reads like a comic book come to life. Were you a big reader of comics when you were a kid? Did you collect them? Are you still a comic-book lover?

Shawn: When I was young, I was a reader… not a collector. I bought comic books to get lost in the stories and the art. I grew up with nasty allergies and a pair of tonsils that liked to swell up every time the wind changed, and on sick days, my parents would run to the store and pick up a stack of comic books for me. So comics were comfort reads for me, and also made me a lover of nerdy mythology. I devoured “Marvel Universe” which was basically an encyclopedia of every hero, villain and other significant character in the Marvel comics. Recently, I’ve felt nostalgic over the resurgence of interest in Marvel and DC comics and superheroes. I don’t really read comic books anymore, but between streaming and movies and articles online, I’m still steeped in it.

Anne: The word unforgettable has more than one meaning. (Great title!) At first I thought it meant others would never forget Logan, and that might be true, but along the way I realized that it refers to Logan’s photographic memory. Did you have this title from the get-go, or did your title change during the writing and publishing process?

Shawn: The title most-certainly has that dual meaning and it was the first and only title the book ever had… at least for me. Early in the editorial process, my editor at HarperCollins, David Linker, challenged me to come up with some other titles that might give potential readers more of a sense that the book was an action adventure and related to superheroes. I totally understood his point, and even though I loved my original title, I think I sent him about fifty other options over a matter of a month. But after going through that exercise, we settled on the original title and I’ll admit, I’m really glad.

Anne: Logan is really funny and quirky, and his voice is endearing. One of my favorite lines is his foster mom Margie saying, “You don’t let other people’s views on what’s an ability or what’s a disability define you. You define you.” Perfect. What made you decide to tell this story from the point of view of a neurodivergent 12 year-old?

Shawn: I was inspired a bit by the movie The Incredibles and the idea of a superhero family, and I started noodling on what it would be like for someone without superpowers to be part of that family. Around the same time, my best friend’s son was diagnosed as autistic, and our families spent a lot of weekends together. I had numerous conversations with my friend’s son and came to appreciate and even admire the way he looked at things. At the same time, I was coaching youth sports and Destination Imagination (a team creativity-building competition) and kept coming across kids whose minds processed the world in amazing ways. These kids opened my eyes to how often people, myself included, expected them to change to fit the expectations of neurotypical people. So I decided I’d write about a neurodivergent kid and put him into a big adventure, then explore how his way of doing things could be a strength instead of a disability. Voilà! Logan was “born.”

Anne: Logan loves to find, watch, and classify cat videos according to what each cat is doing. Ha! How about you? Got any hobbies?

Shawn: Okay, I have to admit that yes, Logan’s fixation on cat videos is based on me. I’ll often see something humorous and say, “Wow… that’s funny” without laughing, but put a cat video in front of me and I fall apart. I asked a sensitivity reader to review a draft of Logan’s story, and she suggested Logan needed an area or two of hyperfixation. I wanted to give him something that wasn’t a trope, and was authentic to me. Solution: cat videos!

As for my hobbies, they’re a mix of the nerdy and the dad-tastic. I play Dungeons and Dragons every week and make D&D and superhero dad-jokes online. I also golf poorly and enjoy a nice, New England IPA from time to time. In truth, working full time in advertising and working another 20+ hours a week writing and promoting books has greatly impacted hobby-level pursuits.

Anne: I hear there’s a sequel in the works. What can you tell us about it?

Shawn: Yes, indeed. The second book in The Unforgettable Logan Foster series is due out on January 3rd, 2023. I know this will sound like an author “promoting”, but I think it’s better than my debut. There are more complexities and twists, and fewer pages getting to know the characters. Also, Logan’s best friend Elena gets a big piece of the spotlight, and I love writing her. Throw in some fun new friends and villains and I feel like Logan lovers will be on board from page one.

Anne: I can’t wait! Finally, where can readers go to learn more about you and your work?

Shawn: My website is and my twitter is @shawntweeters. On TikTok, folks can find me @writtenbyshawnpeters, but only show up if you love superheroes and peak dad humor. And of course, if anyone reads the book and enjoys it, a rating on GoodReads or Amazon would make them a superhero in my book… metaphorically speaking. 

Shawn Peters

Shawn Peters has written a little bit about a lot of things in a lot of places. Ads for huge premium cable networks and all kinds of small businesses. Movie ideas that ended up on the shelf and domestic date-nights that ended up in the newspapers. Columns about fantasy sports and books about a neurodiverse hero in the making. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, who is the best teacher on the planet, two kids, a dog, and a cat that made him retype this by walking across the keyboard.

Anne (A.B.) Westrick is today’s MG Book Village interviewer. She’s the author of the older-MG novel Brotherhood. You can learn more about her at