Kristy spoke with fellow author Katie Bayerl about her YA debut, the first in a sci-fi series, which was just published by Jolly Fish Press. Kristy’s a member of the Sweet Sixteens, an online group for YA and MG writers debuting in 2016; Katie rolls with the Sweet Seventeens.
About the Novel
As if Alexandra Lucas’ anxiety disorder isn’t enough, mysterious holograms suddenly appear, heralding the end of the world. They bring an ultimatum: step through a portal-like vertex to safety, or stay and be destroyed by a comet they claim is on a collision course with earth. How’s that for senior year stress? Alex must consider what is best for her friends, her family, and herself. To stay or to go. A decision must be made. (Book Two will follow in Fall 2016.)
About the Author
Kristy Acevedo is a high school English teacher and huge Star Trek, Doctor Who, and Harry Potter fan. As a child, her “big sister” from the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program fostered her love of books by bringing her to the library every Wednesday. Her debut novel, Consider, won the 2015 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom CBD Award. A member of SCBWI, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband, two daughters, and two cats. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, GoodReads, and Tumblr,
TALKING ABOUT ‘CONSIDER’
Katie: You wrote the first draft of Consider in just a few months. What was it about the idea that took such a hold of you?
Kristy: I was actually writing another manuscript at the time, and I had some editorial feedback: they wanted a different ending. Instead of revising, I was binge watching Doctor Who. (It was the first time I had ever watched it.) I was in the shower after watching an episode and started thinking, Doctor Who is awesome, but it’s kind of stupid too. If a guy came out of a TARDIS and asked you to come with him, you would scream and want to run the other way. And then I started thinking… Well, what would make people leave with a stranger? And I immediately knew the premise of this book.
Katie: Wow! That’s amazing!
Kristy: Yeah. It was the first time that I had happened to me. I had the complete concept immediately—without characters or anything—but the beginning and end were clear, like bookends. That inspired me. I was like, “Oh, I can write that!”
I shared the idea with my husband and my daughter, and they said, “I’d watch that movie!” So I got started writing right away.
Katie: Ok, so you had a big win upfront with the concept. What’s been the most challenging part of the writing process for you? How did you get through it?
Kristy: With this book I hit a wall about three-quarters of the way in. I knew how it was going to end, but I couldn’t figure out how to get there from where I was, and I didn’t want to force it. So I put it aside for few days. Then, I had a dream. It was like a Eureka moment. I woke up and said, “Oh, my gosh! That’s what has to happen!” The idea connected everything. When that final piece came to me, the whole book kind of clicked.
Katie: Alex struggles with a condition with which lots of readers can identify: anxiety. What made you want to explore this particular challenge?
Kristy: I have several close family members who have different types of anxiety disorders, ranging from mild to serious. They struggle and often feel bad about it, but I’ve always seen them as strong. I wanted to create a main character who becomes the hero of her own story, with an anxiety disorder as only one facet of her character.
Katie: You’re a high school teacher (something else we have in common). Have your students influenced you writing at all?
Kristy: They’ve definitely influenced my writing—especially this book. A lot of times sci-fi is not accessible to teenagers. They get thrown into a different world with alien names, and it turns them off. So I didn’t want to write sci-fi purely from a sci-fi lover’s standpoint. I wanted it to be accessible.
I teach many reluctant readers, so I wanted the book to be fast paced for them, but I also teach AP Language and Composition, so I wanted to also be able to appeal to readers who look for thought-provoking issues. As I wrote, I thought about how I could meet the needs of both of those audiences.
What’s a sci-fi book every teen should read?
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
How about a book you loved as a teen?
Lightning by Dean Koontz. He’s known for horror, but I remember falling in love with the time travel element in this one!
Song for the Consider soundtrack?
Adele’s “Love in the Dark”
Favorite thing about your hometown? (New Bedford, MA)
I love living near the ocean.
Weirdest thing you’ve encountered on public transportation?
I guess… that would be me! When I was working on the first chapter of Consider [which takes place on the Red Line train in Boston], I took out my cell phone to get pictures of the emergency system and all of those details you normally ignore. I got some weird looks.
Your spirit animal?
My husband came up with this right away. When I asked him why, he said, “You’re super smart, you’re friendly and sometimes very high-pitched.” (Laughter.) I kind of think he’s right.
About the Interviewer
When Katie Bayerl isn’t penning stories, she coaches teens (and nonprofits) to tell theirs. She is a proud graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children and Young Adults program and has taught creative writing in schools and a variety of community settings. Katie has an incurable obsession with saints, bittersweet ballads, and murder. Her debut novel A Psalm for Lost Girls is coming from Penguin/Putnam Books for Young Readers in spring 2017.