Rockstar Book Tours Blog Tour, Interview, & Giveaway: The Pros Of Cons (Alison Cherry, Lindsay Ribar and Michelle Schusterman)
I grew up in Evanston, IL, then went to Harvard and got a degree in photography. (Yes, that is possible. Although they like to call the visual arts “Visual and Environmental Studies,” for some unknown reason.) Then I spent the next three years as a freelance lighting designer for various theaters throughout the Northeast. Eventually, I got tired of hanging out on ladders and wrestling with faulty electrical equipment for 80 hours a week while getting paid almost nothing, so I spent the next four years working as a photographer for the Metropolitan Opera. Now I live in Brooklyn with my two kitties, Vivian and Sophia, and write full-time. I’m represented by Holly Root at Root Literary.
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Lindsay Ribar lives in New York City, where she works in book publishing by day and writes YA novels by night. She attends far too many concerts, watches far too much nerdy TV, and consumes fanfiction like it's made out of chocolate. She is fond of wine, cheese, and countries where they speak English but with really cool accents. Oh, and she has a Harry Potter tattoo.
Michelle Schusterman is the alleged author of less than one hundred books for kids and teens, most of which are not published under a secret pseudonym, and all of which include various characters. She lives on a steamboat with her pet crawfish, unless she's lying, in which case she lives among the spiders beneath the stage at the Metropolitan Opera, unless that's another lie, in which case she lives in an apartment in Queens with her chocolate lab, who can talk.
Meet The Pros Of Cons!
Drummer Phoebe Byrd prides herself on being one of the guys, and she's ready to prove it by kicking all their butts in the snare solo competition at the Indoor Percussion Association Convention.
Writer Vanessa Montoya-O'Callaghan has been looking forward to the WTFcon for months. Not just because of the panels and fanfiction readings but because WTFcon is where she'll finally meet Soleil, her internet girlfriend, for the first time.
Taxidermy assistant Callie Buchannan might be good at scooping brains out of deer skulls, but that doesn't mean it's her passion. Since her parents' divorce, her taxidermist father only cares about his work, and assisting him at the World Taxidermy and Fish-Carving Championships is the only way Callie knows to connect with him.
When a crazy mix-up in the hotel lobby brings the three girls together, they form an unlikely friendship against a chaotic background of cosplay, competition, and carcasses!
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
Alison: Lindsay and I went to LeakyCon (a Harry Potter fan con) in 2014. The convention center had four wings, and the other three were occupied by a chess con, a church con, and Miss America. I stood in the lobby, looked around and went… this right here? This is a book.
Lindsay: At which point I was like, “A book that… I’m writing with you, perchance?”
Michelle: And then they asked if I’d write it with them. And I was like...duh. Yes.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Alison: It delights me to write terrible people, so I really love Soleil.
Michelle: Soleil for sure, and also Beige! But I have a really soft spot in my heart for Phoebe. She’s the girl I thought I wanted to be when I was in high school: one of the guys, cool, intimidating, talented. We both had a lot to learn.
Lindsay: God, yeah, definitely Soleil. She’s the actual worst. But honestly, I love everyone in this book.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
Michelle: The egg!! ….wait, wrong question…
Alison: Are there people who can title their novels before they write them?? I can barely do it once the book is done. This was not our original title, so it came significantly after we were finished.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
Alison: The epilogue. I can’t say anything else because it’s a spoiler, but it’s probably the only thing I’ve ever written that didn’t change at all between first draft and publication.
Michelle: Phoebe and Scott in the hotel room. I was SO reluctant to write a kissing scene. And then I did, and it turned out pretty hilarious (if I do say so myself). Which maybe isn’t the goal for kissing scenes with most writers? But I had a blast writing it, and I laugh every time I read it.
Lindsay: I think my favorite of the ones that I wrote is the big giant blowout fight between Vanessa and… well, it’s a huge spoiler! But it happens a little over halfway through the book, and by that point it’d been brewing for such a long time that it was great to let loose and actually let Vanessa give voice to all of her feelings! And, guys, she has so many feelings.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
Alison: Before I wrote this book, I never showed anyone my manuscripts until they were complete and polished. It was hard for me to send my words off to other people while they were still messy and vulnerable, but I think the fact that I can do it now will serve me well in the future.
Michelle: I tend to blow some things off while I’m writing a first draft—timeline continuity, a side character’s motivation, things like that—and tell myself I’ll fix it during revisions. But with two coauthors, I couldn’t exactly fudge the timeline. It took me awhile to get used to working out the smaller details while drafting, but I think it’s made me a more efficient writer!
Lindsay: And I’m a huge pantser—meaning I don’t outline before I write. But with these two ladies as my coauthors, I had to learn to outline. Not just because they’re both outliners, but because it’d be almost impossible to write with other people without knowing first where we were going. I’m not sure if I’ll ever apply that skill to my own writing, but it’s definitely a good one to have!
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
Alison: Not only is that a taxidermy mouse on the cover, that's a CUSTOM taxidermy mouse. The cover designer found an artist who buys frozen mice that pet stores use as snake food, mounts them, and dresses them up. She's the one who created Maggie Wormtail MouseRat, who has now retired from her modeling career and is enjoying a long and happy life on my bookshelf.
Michelle: WHAT ALISON SAID. I had no idea how they would come up with a cover that depicted all three conventions, and they did—in the most bizarre, hilarious way possible.
Lindsay: I like that the mouse’s con paraphernalia collection is like a bunch of little Easter eggs for the book. Also, let’s be honest, I like that the cover is blue. Blue things are great.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2018?
Alison: Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert and You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld
Michelle: Sadie by Courtney Summers and Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma. (Also, Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, but that’s already out and I read it and I LOVED IT)
Lindsay: Ella, Unleashed by Alison Cherry, and Spell & Spindle by Michelle Schusterman :)
Michelle: AW <3
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2017?
Alison: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and We Are Okay by Nina Lacour
Michelle: Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray. I’d been waiting for YEARS for the next book in The Diviners series, and it was so fun to reread the first two before getting my hands on the third last fall. Of course, now I have to deal with that cliffhanger until the fourth book comes out. Sigh…
Lindsay: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia and The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
YABC: What’s up next for you?
Alison: My next middle grade, Ella Unleashed, comes out September 25. We pitched it as Best In Show meets The Parent Trap.
Michelle: I’m co-authoring a middle grade series with Kirsten Hubbard called Secrets of Topsea, and the first book, A Friendly Town That’s Almost Always By The Ocean!, comes out April 17th. We pitched it as Wayside School meets Welcome to Night Vale. Also, my next solo middle grade, Spell & Spindle, is out July 31st. It’s about puppets and the patriarchy.
Lindsay: Writing very slowly (without outlining first), and hoping someone will want to publish whatever this thing ends up being!
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
Alison: Callie’s screaming fight with her dad was definitely most emotional for me.
Michelle: Christina calling out Phoebe on her sexism. Because like I said, Phoebe was goals for teenage-me. I’d internalized the same stuff, and I didn’t have a Christina to yell at me. So really, that scene was me yelling at my high school self.
Lindsay: Vanessa realizing that Soleil isn’t going to make the first move between them, and then psyching herself up to do it instead. It was excruciating to make my introverted little character put herself on the line like that, especially knowing what was gonna happen at the end of it. Spoilers: the kiss does NOT go well.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
Alison: I had a hard time hitting the right tone with Callie’s dad. I kept making him too cruel.
Michelle: I didn’t have trouble with a particular character, but Phoebe’s relationships with Scott, Christina, and Brian were difficult to juggle. (In the first draft, Christina and Brian weren’t dating! That was one of the fixes I added during revisions—combining their separate arcs with Phoebe into one arc.)
Lindsay: I actually got really nervous whenever I had to write a scene that included Phoebe or Callie—or both of them! I was always really afraid that I would get them completely wrong!
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
Alison: Revising! Drafting feels like pulling teeth to me.
Lindsay: God, same.
Michelle: I love the beginning of drafting, because there’s so much possibility. And I love the beginning of revising, because it’s like looking at a bunch of puzzle pieces and trying to fit them to make the right picture. But towards the end of both drafting and revising, I start doubting myself as a writer and human being in general.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
Alison: Introducing people to other people they’ll like.
Michelle: Telekinesis, according to a Buzzfeed quiz I just took.
Lindsay: Making friends with every cat.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
Alison: The International Rescue Committee does great work responding to humanitarian crises. You can donate to a large variety of causes, from health services to emergency relief to sending girls in developing countries to school.
Michelle: I recently started fostering dogs through NYC Second Chance Rescue, which is a fantastic organization that saves dogs and cats from high-kill shelters and other dangerous situations, and helps find homes for them. They take donations to help cover medical expenses to make sure the pets are healthy before they are fostered or adopted.
Lindsay: PostcardsToVoters.org is a grassroots organization that partners with Democratic campaigns across the country in an effort to get registered Dems out the door and into the polls for important elections.
The Pros Of Cons
By: Alison Cherry, Lindsay Ribar and Michelle Schusterman
Publishing Date: March 27th, 2018
Three winners will each receive a copy of The Pros Of Cons!
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