Kathie: Hi Shawn, and welcome back to MG Book Village! Thanks for asking us to be part of the cover reveal for the sequel to your debut novel, THE UNFORGETTABLE LOGAN FOSTER, which released earlier this year. Please tell us a bit about your upcoming book, THE UNFORGETTABLE LOGAN FOSTER AND THE SHADOW OF DOUBT, and when we might expect to see it on shelves?
Shawn: Thank you, Kathie. It’s so cool to be back, chatting with you and MG Book Village for the cover reveal of THE UNFORGETTABLE LOGAN FOSTER AND THE SHADOW OF DOUBT, which is due out from HarperCollins on January 3rd, 2023.
This sequel to my debut finds Logan, plus his super-powered foster folks, Gil and Margie, trying to settle into their new secret identities and learning how to be an actual family in a new community not too far away from where they lived in the first book. They’re hoping that after barely surviving – individually and as a family– the conflict with the nearly immortal supervillainess, Necros, they might actually have some downtime. But of course, I’m a cruel, sadistic MG writer, so I couldn’t let them have that. Logan still has his best pal, Elena, supporting him as her own powers grow, and he’s making some new friends as well. But when Logan uncovers a few clues as to how he became an orphan, he is once again at odds with MASC, the secret organization in charge of all superheroes. It’s not long before Logan has to decide to who to trust and how far he’s willing to go to get answers.
Kathie: Many writers say writing a sequel is more difficult than the first book. What was the experience like for you?
Shawn: I’ll buck the trend and say it wasn’t harder for me, because I’ve been planning the basic story for almost seven years, ever since I finished the first draft of book one. Also, having an editor to work with from the start and real deadlines to hit were both excellent motivators. I did have to do a major, structural revision last summer to make the story really tick at the right pace, which was the hardest rewrite I’ve ever done. But working with Dave (my editor, David Linker), I felt like I knew it would make the book stronger if I got it right. I hope I did accomplish that. I do feel this is an even better book, end to end, than my debut, with more twists and higher stakes for the characters.
Kathie: Did you have a sense of what would happen in this book before you sat down to write, or did it sort of figure itself out as you went along?
Shawn: I did, as I mentioned above, because I’d always had an idea for book two and beyond (if I am fortunate enough to continue the series). But for me, plotting out the story is a completely different process than writing the book, because my characters always surprise me along the way once I start drafting. In that stage, it’s a bit like doing improv. I know what my characters want, what they’re afraid of, and where they have to get. But what they say and how they react to what’s said to them is fluid, and I try to leave room in my outlines for things to change if the characters are being authentic to their personalities and motivations.
Kathie: What’s one thing you discovered about Logan writing this book that you didn’t know about him before?
Shawn: I discovered that Logan’s penchant for total honesty and his desire to be guided by facts over feelings were a lot easier before he had people he truly cared for. Now that he has a family and a best friend and new people who want to be a part of his life, he has to think about who he’s honest with and what’s the cost of keeping secrets. Both are much simpler when you’re an orphan waiting until you’re old enough to start life on your own terms. Logan’s emotions are so much closer to the surface, which are hard for him to handle, and really exciting for me to write.
Kathie: Let’s chat a bit about the book’s cover. You have the same illustrator, Petur Antonsson, who designed the cover and did the internal illustrations. Can you share one Easter egg with us that fans of the first book might notice?
Shawn: First off, Petur’s work continues to amaze me and I feel so fortunate to have him involved. I think his covers and illustrations are what make these books feel like part of a cinematic/comic book universe. But I was in love with this new cover from his earliest sketches. The debut’s cover was dark and felt contained, which was perfect for a story about a kid about to reveal a whole hidden reality or superheroes and villains. This cover, with its blue skies, huge wall of glass and airport location is just a window to a bigger world. There are battles and airplanes and a sense that Logan’s story is going beyond where it started, which is all true. As for an Easter Egg, well, if you look at both covers, you might notice a bespectacled dude who is surprised by the superhuman activity going on in front of him, and if you say he looks a bit like me when I’m clean shaven, I wouldn’t disagree.
Kathie: OK, it’s time for the big reveal!
Kathie: I love that there’s so much action to draw a reader’s attention. What’s one element that you really like?
Shawn: Just one? Okay, I’ll admit it, it’s the travel pillow and sleep mask on Gil and Margie. When I saw those, I became that emoji with the heart-eyes instantly. Those details get at the essence of how Margie and Gil just want the things that many families take for granted, like getting to travel together. They just look so excited for their flight, while Logan, Elena and others are much more aware of the impending battle.
Kathie: If you could offer debut authors one piece of advice you learned this year, what would it be?
Shawn: I still don’t feel qualified to give anyone advice on anything but making dad jokes, but I’d say debuts should focus on enjoying the heck out of those couple weeks or month around their publication day, when people are talking about your book and celebrating it. It’s a feeling that can’t last (unless you’re fortunate enough to be an instant best-seller) so it should be fully embraced while it’s happening.
Oh, and the one exception is to take time and get yourself into events and panels as far in advance as you can. I’m terrible about that. I was so focused on my pub date and the months after, I totally missed all the deadlines for Spring/Summer stuff.
Kathie: Remind us where we can go to learn more about you and your writing?
Shawn: My website is www.shawnpeterswrites.com and it usually has info about upcoming books and events. But I’ve pretty active on Twitter @ShawnTweeters in terms of day to day stuff, and I’ve got a treasure trove of superhero puns available on tiktok ( https://www.tiktok.com/@writtenbyshawnpeters )
Kathie: Thanks again for letting us be part of your cover reveal, Shawn, and I look forward to following your journey toward its release.
Shawn: Thank you, Kathie. The amazing, booking people who are a part of the MG Book Village (literally and as a community) have been the most supportive folks of my work and all sorts of kidlit debuts and I’m thrilled to keep sharing good news with you!
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. THE UNFORGETTABLE LOGAN FOSTER was his debut middle grade book, and the sequel, THE UNFORGETTABLE LOGAN FOSTER AND THE SHADOW OF DOUBT will be published on January 3rd, 2023. You can find Shawn at his website www.shawpeterswrites.com , on Twitter @ShawnTweeters or even on TikTok @writtenbyshawnpeters .