I’m delighted to introduce Editorial Director Erica Sussman of HarperCollins. She graciously agreed to be interviewed for Emu’s Debuts as we celebrate author Katie Slivensky’s debut middle grade novel, THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY.
To begin, Erica, can you explain what was it about THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY manuscript that made you sit up and pay attention? When during your initial reading did you decide to acquire it for HarperCollins?
“I was drawn into the story from the very first page. Miranda is an incredibly sympathetic and relatable narrator, despite the fact that she’s in a pretty crazy situation! I was never a science buff, but Katie’s story is so accessible that I didn’t get confused by any of the technical aspects of the space travel—I was too busy trying to figure out what would happen next! And Katie’s manuscript also made me cry – in the best and most surprising way – which is a pretty tough feat! She’s crafted the most wonderful friendship between Miranda and Ruby, a robot that Miranda built. There’s a moment of such heartbreaking sacrifice in the book (I won’t tell you what happens, don’t worry!) that is handled so deftly – when I read it I knew I had to get Katie’s debut novel on my list.”
Confession: I haven’t read THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY yet. If I asked you for a book recommendation, how would you persuade me to drop everything and read THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY?
Here’s what I’d say: If you’ve ever felt out of your depth, if you’ve ever had to make new friends, if you’ve ever had to step up and be brave, if you’ve ever had to stand up for yourself or a friend, if you’ve ever longed for an out of this world adventure…PICK UP THIS BOOK.
I’ve had to face situations like those, but always right here on terra firma. This book’s readers, on the other hand, will encounter such relatable challenges as they thrillingly zoom through space. Much more fun and interesting.
What were your favorite books when you were a kid? Does THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY have anything in common with them?
I had a bunch of favorites, but the one that stands out in relation to The Countdown Conspiracy is SpaceCamp, which now that I think about it may possibly have just been the novelization of the movie with Lea Thompson. It was about a group of teenagers accidentally sent up into space and I think I read it approximately a zillion times. There was a lot about Countdown Conspiracy that reminded me of it in the best ways: unlikely friendships, strong characters, a great sense of humor, fast-paced adventure, danger—and, thank goodness, a happy ending.
And with that, we are GO for launch. Editorial Director Sussman, in six seconds and six words, please commence the launch sequence for THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY.
I couldn’t agree more! I can’t wait to blast off with Miranda and Ruby. Thank you, Erica, for all you do to bring exciting, uplifting books into the world. THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY will surely encourage in its readers an enterprising spirit and a love of science and space.
You can purchase THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY at your local bookstore or here:
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/…/the…/1124860410
To learn more about author and science educator Katie Slivensky, visit her website. https://www.katieslivensky.com
About Hayley Barrett
I write for young people and live to make kids laugh. My picture book BABYMOON, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal, celebrates the birth of a new family and is coming in spring 2019 from Candlewick Press. WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW, a narrative nonfiction picture book, is also coming in spring 2019 from Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books and will be illustrated by Diana Sudyka.