If you guys know me, you know I’m really interested in “apocalypse coming” type stories and what choices people make when faced with impending doom (I’m so sunny, right?). CONSIDER sounds like an incredibly inventive approach to this concept. Check out more about the book and giveaway below, and join me, Kristy and TJ for a chat about how CONSIDER came to be and what you have to look forward to!
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As if 17-year-old Alexandra Lucas' anxiety disorder isn't enough, mysterious holograms suddenly appear, heralding the end of the world. They bring an ultimatum: heed the warning and step through a portal-like vertex to safety, or stay and be destroyed by a comet that is on a collision course with Earth. The holograms,claiming to be humans from the future, bring the promise of safety. But without the ability to verify their story, Alex is forced to consider what is best for her friends, her family, and herself.
To stay or to go. A decision must be made.
With the deadline of the holograms' prophecy fast approaching, Alex feels as though she is living on a ticking time bomb, until she discovers it is much, much worse.
CONSIDER comes out in just 10 days, and you guys, this is one of the most interesting and fun interviews I’ve done – if you’re at all interested in the publishing process and how books get created, this is a must-read. Please welcome Kristy and TJ to the blog!
Hi Kristy and TJ! Thanks so much for agreeing to do this interview. Firstly, can you both (separately, haha) give a five-ten word description of CONSIDER?
Kristy: Teen with anxiety disorder dealing with holograms and an apocalypse.
TJ: Anxiety based YA lite sci-fi thriller with heart.
Tell me about the process of acquiring/querying CONSIDER. Kristy, did you query a lot of publishers? Did you have an agent do it, or did you go through the slush pile? Was it acquired because of the
PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award that you won in 2015?
Kristy: I had just started the query process with CONSIDER, sending it to two editors and a few agents. I hadn’t heard back when the March 2015 #PitMad began, and I figured I’d give it a shot. #PitMad is a Twitter hashtag that runs four times a year where writers pitch their edited manuscripts in 140 characters, and if any editors, publishers, or agents favorite their pitch, they should submit according to that person’s guidelines ASAP.
One little favorite led to a publishing offer ten days later. Even better, TJ said that Jolly Fish Press was offering a two-book contract for the series. I contacted the two editors I had sent it to, and one responded with a second offer. (None of the agents got back to me despite offers on the table.)
If that wasn’t lucky enough, the same week I got the call, I received another call that Consider won the 2015 PEN New England Children’s Book Discovery Award. Talk about an amazing week!
After some soul searching, I signed with Jolly Fish Press since TJ was way more enthusiastic about the project and that meant something to me. Sometimes heart wins. I hired a Literary Contract Consultant to review the terms and negotiate on my behalf. And the rest is history!
TJ: This is a somewhat funny story, for me. I was perusing #PitMad, a Twitter pitch party in which authors pitch their books into the void that is the internet, and editors and agents pick and choose which submissions they want to see. I was specifically looking for sci-fi, and I hadn’t found any good ones yet. Then I see this pitch: “If a hologram said it could save your life, would you believe it?”
— Kristy Acevedo (@kristyace) March 11, 2015
In all honesty, not what one would qualify as a “good” pitch. It broke rules; it’s a question, it gives me no idea what the story is about, I have no concept of character. All these are no-nos when pitching, but I wanted a sci-fi and this one caught my attention, perhaps because it broke so many rules.
When she sent the query, I immediately shot out a blast to everyone working at the office, and each and everyone replied with the same reaction: chills.
I requested the full manuscript immediately, and, once received, I devoured it in two sittings. We had an acquisitions meeting set for Saturday of that week, but I couldn’t wait; on Friday, I went to the acquisitions board and told them, “We need this book yesterday!” and got a unanimous “yes” within hours.
Our acquisitions meeting is happening tomorrow where we decide our 2016 spring list. Which book will make our list? Stay tuned.
— Jolly Fish Press (@JollyFishPress) March 20, 2015
While we were drafting the contract, the book won the Susan P. Bloom award. As an editor, and simply a person, in love with this book, my stress began to skyrocket. What if she doesn’t sign with us? What if someone offers her a deal that we simply can’t compete with? Few people understand that editors face rejection, too, and we feel just the same when a book slips through our fingers as an author feels when they receive a rejection letter. If that weren’t enough, I had a vacation planned I could not postpone, so, with the contract under consideration by Kristy, I left the job behind, completely preoccupied with what would happen while I was gone.
Halfway through my trip, I finally got an email with the signed contract. I screamed, clapped, shook my loved ones half to death—it was a good time.
Let’s talk editing CONSIDER. Was it a long or short process? How many passes did you go through? What was it like working together?
Kristy: Ugh, I never want to read it again (kidding…sort of…). Working with TJ has been amazing. Actually, we didn’t make any major structural changes to the manuscript. No deleted chapters or scenes, no sequencing changes. If anything, we added more to scenes for scientific details and emotional resonance. I tend to write less, not more, and TJ is good at pulling more out of me. I am not a romantic, and he insisted that readers would want a little more. He was right. I listened to 98% of what he said 🙂
TJ: It was quite a long process. As for complete passes, we did three, but we did several clean-up passes between each major pass. Kristy is a blast to work with. We would shoot emails back and forth, and when that wasn’t fast enough, we resorted to texts for small things. Kristy is absolutely amazing on turnarounds. Sometimes I could give her a few weeks, but there were some things we had only a few days, and those ones we essentially emailed back and forth all day and night to get it right. She never missed a deadline, though she’s pushing it on the second book, CONTRIBUTE 🙂
What an amazing author-editor relationship. Thanks for letting us into your process! So let’s dive into what this book is all about: Alexandra and her family and friends are facing a huge decision – essentially, whether to trust or not to trust aliens who are offering safety from a supposed comet that will collide with Earth. Why Alex? Why is she so important to this story?
Kristy: Alex’s honest struggle with general anxiety disorder and panic attacks, and the complex relationships in her life give the story a gradual depth that hits at gut level. She’s strong, vulnerable, compassionate, and flawed and becomes the hero of the series. I love that. She also doesn’t need to kick butt or have a weapon in her hand to wield her strength–she’s more relatable and realistic, which I think sends a good message to people struggling to be the heroes in their own lives. The idea of recognizing the individual power that you have to create change.
TJ: The beauty of this story is how easy it is to relate to Alex. She’s just like you and me. Her friends could be your friends. The conflict in the story is compounded by the fact that Alex has general anxiety disorder. A disorder that affects millions, and is tough to deal with in a normal world. Now add in the end of the world…well, it gets intense. But Alex isn’t just there for conflict. Without giving too much away, the reader slowly realizes why Alex is the only one who could be the hero. That having a disorder doesn’t mean you are weak; sometimes it’s what makes you strong.
I love that message, and relateable characters with inner strength are SO my thing!
Kristy, you’re a high school English teacher. How much did your experiences with students play into your writing? Do you have personal experience with students who have anxiety disorders like Alex? If not, how much research did you do to portray Alex’s anxiety disorder realistically?
Kristy: My students have definitely influenced my writing—especially this book. Often reluctant readers do not find science fiction as accessible as realistic fiction. I didn’t want to write sci-fi purely from a sci-fi lover’s standpoint.
In terms of anxiety, I have several close family members who have different types of anxiety disorders, ranging from mild to serious. I wanted to create a main character who becomes the hero of her own story with her anxiety disorder as only one facet of her character.
Are you both huge sci-fi nerds? What are some recent TV shows, movies, or books you recommend for teens interested in CONSIDER?
TJ: I do love myself the sci-fi! I’m a proud (and always angry) Firefly fan…really, all things Joss Whedon. I think it is required for us to mention Doctor Who – it was the inspiration for Kristy to write CONSIDER in the first place.
Fave Star Trek character:
Kristy: Sorry, can’t pick one. Picard. Data. Worf. Seven of Nine. (Oh, TJ, I am so disappointed…)
TJ: I’m more of a Babylon 5 guy. Gun to my head…Data.
Your Hogwarts House:
Kristy: Ravenclaw all the way.
TJ: I could fit in to Ravenclaw or Gryffindor
One thing you need by your side when you’re on deadline:
Kristy: Coffee and dark chocolate
TJ: Pajamas. The first thing I do when I have a bunch of deadlines stressing me out is go home and throw on some pajamas. The comfort of being at home relaxes me and helps me power through the toughest deadlines.
One thing you would take with you if you had to go through a portal:
Kristy: A pen and a notebook. (*reads TJ’s response. I ask my husband the same question. His answer: underwear. *High-fives husband.*)
TJ: My wife (all you need is love—I know, barf. Grow up).
Kristy is generously offering a signed copy of CONSIDER and bookmark to a US reader, and a signed bookmark to a lucky international reader! Sign up below for a chance to win!
Thanks so much, Kristy & TJ, for stopping by the blog and for the giveaway! CONSIDER comes out on April 19th. Will you be picking up a copy? What interests you most about this book – the sci-fi? The apocalypse impending? The anxiety part? Let us know in the comments!