Exclusive Guest Post with Monica Tesler on “Building Fantastical Worlds in Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction” & COVER REVEAL

Hi guys! A few months ago, I went to the Southeastern Young Adult Festival (or SE-YA for short) and I met some amazing Middle Grade authors there! I had the lovely opportunity to chat with Monica Tesler, author of the Bounders series, which looks very epic! I currently have a copy at home waiting to be read, and I can’t wait! Today, Monica and I are celebrating the COVER REVEAL of the FOURTH book in her series, The Heroes Return, with a special guest post. I hope you enjoy!


About Earth Force Rising (Bounders #1)Earth Force Rising

Bounders have always known they were different, but they never suspected they were the key to saving Earth.

Jasper Adams is excited to join the Earth Force military agency as part of its first class of Bounders, a team of kids training to be elite astronauts. He can’t wait to connect with others like him and learn to pilot spaceships that can travel across the galaxy in an instant.

But when Jasper arrives at the space station, nothing is as it seems. Security is sky-high, and Jasper and his new friends soon realize that Earth Force has been keeping secrets—one of the biggest being a powerful, highly-classified technology that allows the Bounders to teleport through space without a ship. Only Bounders can use this tech, which leads Jasper to a sinister truth—humanity is facing a threat greater than any they’ve ever known, and Bounders are the ones standing between their planet and destruction.

Will Jasper and his friends rebel against Earth Force for hiding the truth or fulfill their duty and fight for their planet? The fate of Earth may rest on their choice.

Goodreads

 

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Buy a signed & personalized copy at Buttonwood Books & Toys


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Building Fantastical Worlds in Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction

I recently had the privilege of being on the faculty for the New England Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (NESCBWI) Annual Spring Conference. I love this conference. I’ve gone every year since 2012 when I was a new writer with no agent and definitely no publishing deal. This year, in addition to teaching a session on the business side of publishing, I taught a class on writing commercial series in middle grade and young adult literature.

As I was preparing my materials for the class and engaging with my enthusiastic students, I was reminded how much I love writing science and speculative fiction and fantasy for middle grade and young adult readers. And one of the very best parts is creating the fictional worlds in which my characters live, dream, interact, and often get into huge heaps of trouble.

Why do I love building these worlds?

Earth Force RisingThe first and easiest answer is that it’s fun. I love escapist fiction, both as a reader and a writer, and there’s nothing better than creating my own fictional worlds in which to escape. In the Bounders series, for example, there are several dystopian, not-so-great aspects of the fictional, future world, but those are balanced out by a lot of cool stuff. Suction chutes to travel between buildings at the space station? Check. Jet packs to fly? Check. Super cool alien technology that lets you bound through space without a ship? Check. I had the best time coming up with all that stuff. If you’re writing middle grade or young adult sci-fi and fantasy, I think the cool and fun factors are a must, even if your worlds have a dark underbelly. Readers want to imagine themselves in the worlds you create, so it can’t be all doom and gloom.

Another tip I shared with my commercial series class is something I call “same but different,” and it’s a guideline I follow when creating sci-fi and fantasy worlds for middle grade and young adult readers. Once a non-writer friend read an early version of the first Bounders book and asked “would they really still eat waffles in the future?” My answer: “Absolutely.” In truth, who knows? Waffles may no longer be around in the far future when we’re travelling via quantum entanglement technology (I hope that happens, don’t you?) and visiting alien planets. But waffles sure do exist in the Bounders world. That’s because I believe you need to have enough of the familiar to ground your readers and allow them to relax into your world while at the same time throwing at them all the cool, fun stuff you dreamt up. That’s why I try to make most character names familiar, or at least pronounceable. If I’m going to introduce new foods (which I do in Bounders—anyone want a BERF bar? that’s Bacteria-Enriched and Refined Fungus—yum!), I balance them out with other foods that my readers will recognize. The aliens speak alien languages in Bounders, but I include some cool voicebox technology that translates what they say into English so I don’t have to introduce tons of strange alien words.

The Tundra TrialsIn short, I never want to introduce so many new words and things that my readers can’t hold all of them in their heads at the same time. It’s not always the same in adult sci-fi and fantasy. Sometimes those worlds are super complex—hard-to-say names with apostrophes and tons of vowels (or maybe no vowels at all), alien languages (anyone speak Klingon?), and political and historical backgrounds that are hard to understand. I’ve read some adult books that required me to flip back to earlier chapters every time I sat down to read just to remember what a made-up word meant. That’s not something I want for my middle grade and young adult readers. Instead, I want them to open my books and escape into the worlds within their pages.

The Forgotten ShrineMaybe the greatest part of building fantastical worlds for middle grade and young adult readers is getting to know the characters who inhabit them. In adult fiction, sometimes characters take a backseat to worldbuilding. In middle grade and young adult fiction, readers stick with stories because of the characters. I adore my characters. One of the best things about writing the Bounders series is spending so much time in the mind of Jasper Adams, and getting to know his friends, Marco, Cole, Lucy, and Mira. As a fan, I’m devoted to the characters in my favorite books, and I know I’m not alone. When I ask young fans about Bounders, almost all of them have a favorite character.

Still, the characters I love from books I treasure feel so real because they inhabit such richly developed worlds, like Meg Murry from A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle. And that’s one of the reasons I love building amazing worlds for my stories.

What do you love about fantastical worlds in middle grade and young adult fiction?


Cover Reveal for The Heroes Return

Do you feel “bound” to see this beautiful cover?

You’re in for a surprise that is “out of this world!”

You will love the Bounders series if you’re a fan of MG Sci-Fi!

Scroll down to see the cover of The Heroes Return!

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The Heroes Return

It’s so epic, isn’t it?


About The Heroes Return (Bounders #4)

After escaping the Youli’s attack on Alkalinia, Jasper and Mira find themselves trapped with the lost aeronauts in the rift, a rip in space where time moves differently. For every minute they spend in the rift, they are losing days back home.

Just when Jasper fears they’ll be stuck in limbo forever, the most unlikely ally shows up: the Youli.

The Youli promise to rescue everyone in the rift, but their help comes at a price. First, Jasper must tell Earth Force that the Youli want peace. And second, Mira can’t return with Jasper. She has to leave with the Youli.

Back home, almost a year has passed. The Youli war is public, Bounders are in space full-time, and Jasper’s pod is divided. Cole and Lucy have been promoted. Marco and Addy are missing.

Jasper delivers the Youli’s message, but the admiral isn’t interested in peace talks. Instead, she sends Jasper and the aeronauts on a publicity tour of Earth to build support for the war. At first, Jasper revels in the spotlight. But it soon becomes clear that if Jasper doesn’t convince Earth Force to stop fighting—and soon—there won’t be an Earth left to fight for, and he may never see Mira again.

Goodreads

Pre-order The Heroes Return, which releases on December 11th, 2018, today!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Simon & Schuster


About the AuthorMonica Tesler

Monica Tesler is the author of the Bounders series, a middle grade science fiction adventure series about the first class of cadets at the EarthBound Academy for quantum space travel. The Heroes Return, the fourth title in the five book series, is due out in December. Monica lives outside of Boston with her family. For more information, you can visit her website, monicatesler.com.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read the Bounders series? Do you like MG sci-fi?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

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