Monday, March 26, 2018


Hey lovely YAtopians! Welcome back to Guestopia. I have some super special guests for March, so you’ll notice that the format is a wee different than usual. I am a bit excited about today’s guests. I have interviewed them before and never get tired of their enthusiasm for life, not to mention books! So, let’s get started. Please welcome the crew of…


This group of fabulously talented YA writers were all selected in Round 3 of Author Mentor Match and became fast friends during that time. Books make them happy and sharing that love makes them happier! 

They are:

Gracie Goldhart

Louisa Onomé

Julie Abe

Kate Havas

Dakota Shain Byrd

Erika L. Cruz

Heidi Christopher

Emily Beck

Lorna Riley

Michelle Fohlin

Katherine Pisana

Susan Lee

Find out more about each of them right here…

Right, introductions done, let's get going with the interview! 

Thanks for joining me today, Love at First Chapter! I’m thrilled to host you. So, for the new readers who haven’t heard of your fabulousness, tell me first up what exactly is Love at First Chapter. 

Love At First Chapter is a biweekly young adult fiction newsletter that introduces the first chapter of an upcoming or new release to subscribers. With each newsletter, subscribers can “fall in love” with the book and either purchase or preorder it at the end of the email. It’s a fun reader resource that allows a wider audience to sample new, diverse releases -- and introduces authors to more engaged readers who are likely to be interested in their book. A win-win for everyone involved!

You guys are all YA writers and met during Author Mentor Match. But how did you go from not knowing each other to setting up this amazing new service for YA book lovers?

Amidst talk of revisions and drafts, Graci Goldhart, our founder, introduced the idea as a fun way to promote upcoming YA releases we’re excited for. The rest happened pretty quickly after that. We set up the website, assigned roles, came up with a list of our most anticipated releases, and prepared for our Valentine’s Day launch.

What’s different about the reader service you’re providing?

All the books selected for Love At First Chapter have been recommended by one of our curators. That means we’ve read and can vouch for the book, have enjoyed it, and want to share it with others. We like to think of it as an unconventional book club of sorts: recommending books and building a community based on readership.
Why should readers sign up?

We’re unlike any other YA newsletter or book service -- it’s 100% free to sign up (and will remain that way!) and you get a surprise first chapter of a new or upcoming YA release straight to your inbox. Like the chapter? Purchase or preorder through links in the newsletter. Don’t like the chapter? Feel free to delete the email. It’s pressure-free and only aims to spread our love of books.

Why YA books?

Young adult fiction centers around, and is catered to, young people, who arguably are going through one of the most dynamic times in their lives. They are forming opinions about their environment and themselves, and using those opinions to create their world. We believe a greater sense of diversity in YA fiction is necessary -- to allow young people to dream bigger, to create a greater sense of acceptance amongst YA readers, to create the kind of world that doesn’t just tolerate, but accepts every kind of person. YA is such a transformative readership because of its reach. As YA (and MG) writers ourselves, we want to see more diverse works and debuts, and wanted the chance to introduce reads we feel can make a difference. 

Will you offer other services on the site in the future?

Though our focus currently lies with curating YA releases, we’d love to eventually create a community where readers can connect with one another. Watch this space! 

Will you share only standalone novels, or do you intend to share books within a series too?

We are open to sharing both. If the first book in a series is highly anticipated and we’re also really excited for it, then we’d love to feature it!
Will it be only novels, or will you share anthologies or perhaps novellas as well?

As of now, we’re focused on sharing YA novels, but may open to anthologies in the future. There are so many good ones coming out lately!

Will you share only traditionally published books or indie and self published as well?

We focus on traditionally published books.

Will you only share already published books or forthcoming titles too?

Some books we share are new releases that may have just come out within the past six months to a year, but our goal is to share more forthcoming titles to help authors build hype -- and hopefully boost preorders!

Will you only share diverse books? What if you accidentally get a chapter for a book that turns out to be problematic, like THE CONTINENT?

We aim to boost diverse voices, so a majority of the books we share will be diverse or #ownvoices. We read ARCs for each book we recommend in hopes we never end up recommending a book like THE CONTINENT. As writers, our names are on this project and we want to maintain a level of integrity when curating.

Why diverse books?

Why not diverse books? We live in a diverse world. Media should always reflect that. Seeing yourself in a book for the very first time is a life-changing moment because you realize you can be the hero too.

Michelle: As a history and geography nerd, I have always been drawn to the diversity of cultures in our world. I have always sought out books with rich worlds and characters that don’t necessarily reflect my own identity. And there are millions of kids who deserve to see their experiences in their words they read. It’s life-changing when you realize that someone who looks, sounds, loves, acts like you is a hero too.
Do you have any diversity that you identify with?

Shain: Yes. To start with, I’m queer as all get out. Physically only into guys, but I’m Bi-romantic, and gender-fluid. Beyond that I’m epileptic, and live with clinical depression, severe anxiety, and ADHD.

Louisa: Nigerian-Canadian, first gen! Also being from Montreal and not speaking any French (this is a Canadian joke, sorry!) 

Graci: I’m a proud Kowi (Korean-Kiwi), 1.5 gen, and visually impaired. Oh, and I live in Middle Earth (only partially kidding - New Zealand is basically Hobbitland)

What are your day jobs? If you’re in school, what’re you studying? Anybody doing an internship or other program like that?

Shain: I’m an American Sign Language Interpretation student in Fort Worth. Regarding internships, I have one with Entangled Teen. When I’m not studying or doing things for my internship or AMM mentorship, I also work as a freelance editor. Be sure to check out my website if you’re interested in learning more about all this!

Lisa: I work for the school district in the High school Library. I manage the circulation desk for both books and computers. I love it. I get to talk about books with students and it’s so great to connect with them over stories we’ve both read. I’ve also run into some fellow writers as well.

Julie Abe: During the day, I work in digital marketing for a healthcare company. At night, I write middle grade and young adult stories.

Louisa: I’m a SEO consultant during the day.

Heidi: I’m an editor with a small publishing house and when I’m not working on client material, i’m writing YA. 

Graci: I’m a diplomat for the New Zealand foreign service by day. 

Michelle: I currently make my unpaid living caring for my two precocious, adorable littles. But I’ve put in years as a history teacher, which is where I draw my ideas for my books from.

OMG. Aren’t they the best? And, obviously, if you haven’t already signed up to their newsletter (the next one is coming out THIS WEEK!) then I have no doubt you’re rushing off to do that right now. J If you need me to make this even easier for you...  

Thank you, gang, it’s been a pleasure!

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