Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Blog Tour & Author Interview: The Lost Causes by Alyssa Embree Schwartz & Jessica Koosed Etting

By: Alyssa Embree Schwartz & Jessica Koosed Etting
Published By: Kids Can Press
Release Date: Sept. 5, 2017
Pages: 344
Buy the Book: Amazon

They're the kids that no one knows --- or no one wants to know. The rich depressive, the OCD chick, the hypochondriac, the drug abuser, the athlete with anger management issues. All chosen for intensive group therapy because they're out of other options. They're lost causes, the therapist tells them. She promises this support group will help them heal.

There's only one problem. She's not a therapist. And that water she offers? It contains a dangerous serum that gives each of the kids a psychic power.

Suddenly, they can think clearly, speak to ghosts, see the past, even move objects with their mind. Their earlier problems have vanished, but their new freedom comes with a price. Sabrina, Gabby, Z, Justin and Andrew are to help the FBI solve the grisly murder that has rocked their small town. Their new powers will help them uncover clues and follow leads that have eluded the authorities. Their outsider status gives them the perfect cover.

But the same traits that make them top investigators also make them vulnerable. As they close in on the murderer, they expose a much larger conspiracy that puts them directly in harm's way and makes them wonder who --- if anyone --- they can trust.


Hi, we're Jessica & Alyssa!

We're best pal writing partners who have been obsessed with reading since we each used to hoard The Babysitters Club books in our bedrooms across the country from one another in Los Angeles (Jess) and Virginia (Lyss).

We finally met on the first day of college at USC, long enough ago that Rocket Dog platform flip-flops were fully acceptable night-out shoes and our biggest life decision was whether to watch Dawson’s Creek or Beverly Hills, 90210 on Wednesday nights (90210, obviously).

​We started writing together right after college when we took the “write what you know” adage to heart and wrote a TV pilot that sold to Fox about how life sucks when you’re 22, broke and a freshman in life. We spent the next many, many years writing for TV and film before we jumped into the book world, a major lifelong dream of ours.

The number one question everyone always asks us is how we write as a team so here’s the rundown...After being best friends and writing together for so long, our brains now officially occupy a shared space. Ninety percent of the time, we know what the other person is going to say before she even opens her mouth. Our husbands think it’s creepy, but we think it’s awesome. After this many years, we've honed it to a pretty efficient process....except for when we digress on Facetime to catch each other up on the few hours we weren’t in contact with each other (which takes especially long if we’ve both finished the same book and need to discuss, if one of us needs justification for an argument we picked with our husband or if we’ve discovered a new hair product, self-tanner or blog).

1) Where did you get the idea for The Lost Causes?

We have always been fascinated by the idea of the sixth sense (What causes it? Is it real in some people?) We’ve been playing with a germ of this idea for years… a group of outcasts who gain psychic abilities, using them to solve a murder (and discovering an even bigger conspiracy in the process). We originally envisioned it as a television series (as we were full-time screenwriters at the time), but after completing our first book series, Georgetown Academy, we decided we’d love to write it as a YA thriller. We grew up reading loads of Lois Duncan (an amazing YA author who often featured psychic teens as protagonists in her books) and we were excited about writing a novel that we saw as Lois Duncan meets the Breakfast Club.

2) Who was your favorite character (or what was your favorite scene) to write and why?

Asking an author to pick a favorite character is like asking a parent to pick a favorite child! Even though they may annoy you at times with their choices, you have this underlying affection and empathy for them. That being said, Z’s deliciously cynical POV was always super fun to write (bonus points for scenes that involved her insane mother). Our absolute favorite scenes, though, were the ones where we got to bring all of our characters together – exploring how they interacted with one another – and finding the moments in their journey to becoming unlikely friends.

3) What songs were on your writing playlist for this book?

Dark, moody, pulsating songs got us in the headspace of our characters and our locale, Cedar Springs, Colorado…Sad sad city by Ghostland Observatory, Electric Feel by MGMT, Dangerous by Big Data, Dreams by Beck and a healthy amount of Empire of the Sun were all in heavy rotation.

4) What was your journey like from drafting to publication?

We had the intense honor and joy of working on this book with our editor Kate Egan, who was also the editor of The Hunger Games trilogy (maybe you’ve heard of it, hehe). After selling the manuscript to our publisher KCP Loft, we dove in on revisions with Kate who could not have been more supportive or insightful. Her thoughtful questions allowed us to dive even deeper into our characters and peel back all the extra fluff.

However, because we wanted to hit the Fall 2017 deadline, we ended up doing all of our revisions in an extremely compressed timeline. It was an adrenaline-packed time, where we were living and dreaming the book (literally – we would dream at night about our characters as if they were our friends), but in the end, the intensity of that time crunch made us push ourselves even further and helped us deliver an even better story.

5) Do you have any writing habits?

Besides finding endless new ways to procrastinate? ;)

We cannot sit down to start a writing session without a cup of coffee or tea by our side (and at least one Le Croix/Diet Coke/Iced Coffee break in the afternoon). Generally, music and earphones are what help us get in the zone and start pounding out pages, as well as rotating different writing perches as the day goes on. Finally, if (and when) we get stuck on something, our tried-and-true method of shaking out some amazing creative inspiration is to take a shower! Works every time! (We recently read Judy Blume saying the same thing and almost died of happiness – we’re in good company!)

6) Are there any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

We’re working on our next YA book as we speak. We can’t let too many details out of the bag yet, but we can say that it was inspired by a life-changing event that happened to someone we know – something we couldn’t stop thinking about. Finally, we realized…this is the next story we want to tell. And yes…discussions have begun on a sequel to The Lost Causes.

Find The Authors Online:
Author Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


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Don't miss any of the tour stops for The Lost Causes! Find the full schedule below:

Week 1
9/4/2017 - The Autumn Bookshelf - Interview
9/4/2017 - Kourtni Reads - Review
9/5/2017 - Morbid Romantic Review - Guest Post
9/5/2017 - Mama Reads Blog - Review
9/6/2017 - Owl Always Be Reading - Excerpt
9/6/2017 - What the Cat Read - Review
9/7/2017 - Bookhounds YA - Guest Post
9/7/2017 - Bibliobakes - Review
9/8/2017 - Book Princess Reviews - Interview
9/8/2017 - Savings in Seconds - Review

Week 2
9/11/2017 - Smada's Booksmack - Excerpt
9/11/2017 - Jessica's Reading Room - Review
9/12/2017 - Portrait of a Book - Interview
9/12/2017 - Texan Girl Reads - Review
9/13/2017 - A Gingerly Review - Review
9/13/2017 - Cindy's Love of Books - Review
9/14/2017 - Comfort Books - Interview
9/14/2017 - The Desert Bibliophile - Review
9/15/2017 - Rainy Day Reviews - Excerpt
9/15/2017 - Here's to Happy Endings - Review


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