Shari: Hi Ben! I’m so thrilled you asked MG Book Village to be part of your cover reveal for your new MG book, One Giant Leap, which is due out in 2023. I’m a huge fan of your Eye of Ra series. Tell us what this new book is about!
Ben: And I am also thrilled to have yet another of my cover reveals on MG Book Village! You are all so appreciated and respected in the MG community. Thank you.
I’m flattered that you are a fan of The Eye of Ra series. I loved writing those books. But this latest novel is something new. It’s still full of action, adventure, and characters who need to grow, but this time instead of going the historical fiction route, we venture into the near-future and feature some real hard science about NASA’s upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon. I’ll let the blurb tease a bit more:
I’m pretty sure I’m about to die in space. And I just turned twelve and a half.
Blast off with the four winners of the StellarKid Project on a trip to the International Space Station and then to the Gateway outpost orbiting the Moon! It’s a dream come true until space junk collides with the ISS, turning their epic trip into a nightmare of survival. Alone aboard the Aether starship, the kids have to work as a team to save the adults before the ISS is destroyed. Suit up, cadet, and launch into adventure with One Giant Leap!
Publication day is tentatively set for 2/21/23.
Shari: What can you tell us about your main character(s) and the characteristics they bring to the team?
Ben: Finley Scott is the main character and the story is told from his point of view. He has experienced some trauma at home and thinks that by getting far away from his problems that that will somehow shield him from the hurt. By winning the StellarKid Project, he’ll indeed get about as far away as humanly possible with a trip into outer space! Of course, with the challenges of the adventure, and alongside the other three kid winners, he’ll learn that he needs to confront his feelings and share with a trusted friend in order to move forward.
Fin is from Washington state, an inventor, and a tinkerer. David Kalkutten is from Norway, an athlete, and loves video games. Kalpana Agarwal is from India and a computer hacker. Mae Jorgenson is from South Africa, wears a dark leather jacket, and is learning to fly airplanes back home. And they all have secrets…
Shari: With a book set in outer space, I’d love to hear about your research process! When in the process of writing did you have to do the most research, and what was the most fascinating piece of information you learned?
Ben: Researching this topic was, and continues to be, an endless source of awe and wonder. I love learning, in general, and discovering more about the Artemis missions and how we plan to settle on the Moon with our eyes on Mars has been fascinating and mind-boggling. My 12-year-old son is especially enamored with all subjects space-related and has been teaching me new things just about every day. He has a big Celestron telescope, watches his NASA app for updates, and constantly reads and writes about space. I believe it is entirely in the realm of possibility that he will set foot on the Moon in his lifetime. Or be involved in getting others there. It will be a lot of fun to witness how that evolves for him. Just, hopefully, no space junk. 😉
Shari: What inspired you to write a science-fiction story, and this one in particular?
Ben: I’ve always been a space nut, but with my son’s exuberance for the subject I just had to write something that took us both out past the exosphere. I’m better with writing realistic-ish books, so instead of writing a science fiction with aliens and lasers I wrote a hard science book that is based on events that very well might occur. It’s also a call-to-action about the real problem of space junk in our low-Earth orbit. I’ve described it as the movie Gravity meets Space Camp. I might be dating myself a little with those references, but this is a fun genre for kids who are into space!
Shari: I love that description! Please tell us about the cover of your book and its designers/illustrators. Did you get to be part of the process?
Ben: Anne Glenn Designs did the cover. She also did the cover for all three of The Eye of Ra series books. She is terrific, very talented, and a pleasure to collaborate with. Working on the cover is about half the fun in writing a book! So fun to see it coming to life.
Shari: It’s time to show everyone this stunning cover!
Shari: This is such a powerful image, full of motion and suspense! What were your thoughts when you first saw it? Is there an element that stands out for you or that you particularly like?
Ben: Anne was great and sent about ten different comps to review. They were all stellar (pun intended). It gave us a lot to chew on and was a ton of fun. Interestingly, there was a version that showed a close-up view of a kid’s face inside of the helmet and didn’t show the floating in outer space or the ship and station. That version was generally more popular with adults. But the version that you see above was generally more popular with kids. It was a pretty overwhelming difference, actually. Gotta give the audience what they want! I do love this cover and since the kids did too, that made the decision easy.
Shari: Where can our readers go to find out more about you and your writing?
Ben: BenGartner.com is the best spot. I’m also active on Twitter (twitter.com/BGartnerWriting) and Insta (instagram.com/BGartnerWriting).
Shari: Can you recommend books that are out now that our audience might enjoy while waiting for One Giant Leap?
Ben: This is a fun question. Some recent reads I’d definitely recommend: Frances and the Monster by Refe Tuma. Daybreak on Raven Island by Fleur Bradley (reading this now and am loving it!). Time Villains: Monster Problems by Victor Piñeiro. Ghosts Come Rising by Adam Perry. The Prince of Steel Pier by Stacy Nockowitz.
On the adult book side, if you’re interested in some very hard science fiction with lots (!) of in-the-weeds accurate details, check out The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield.
Shari: I’m very excited to read this book, especially since I loved the characters you created in The Eye of Ra books. Thank you so much for letting me be part of the cover reveal and chatting with me today.
Ben: It brings me so much joy to share it with you and with the world. Thank you so much, Shari and the rest of the awesome MG Book Village crew!
Ben Gartner is the award-winning author of adventure books for middle graders. His stories take readers for a thrilling ride, maybe even teaching them something on the journey. Ben can be found living and writing near the mountains with his wife and two boys.