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 www.shawnpeterswrites.com 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 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 https://abwestrick.com/