Path to publication began with a 'sister' and ended with a tweet
Local author Kristy Acevedo celebrates the release of her debut young adult novel this month, but she's still getting used to the title of "author." Answering a call to discuss her title "Consider," she laughed at how strange it felt to receive calls from the press. Acevedo will not likely feel that way long—her science fiction thriller set in Fairhaven and New Bedford was one of three winners of the 2015 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award. Barnes & Noble included it among the “13 Most Anticipated Science Fiction YAs of 2016”.
Acevedo's trajectory to publication may not have been straight—but it has certainly been true. She started reading at a very young age, and her love of books was further fostered when Acevedo signed on with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program when her parents divorced when she was 6 years old. "My 'big sister' brought me to the public library every week for 7 years," she says.
During that time she wrote lots of poems, and attempted some novels, "but I never got beyond three chapters."
She graduated from high school in New Bedford in 1995 and headed to Mount Holyoke College, a private women's college in central Massachusetts. But her education took an unexpected turn when she became pregnant and needed to put school on hold, come home to New Bedford and welcome her older daughter into the world. She was able to finish school at Bridgewater State, where she earned both a Bachelor's degree and a Master's in English. She looks back on her experience at Mount Holyoke with humor: "I may have had to leave after my first year, but so did Emily Dickinson. I'm in good company."
When she's not writing, Acevedo, who lives in Fairhaven with her husband and two daughters, is teaching English—something she did at Fairhaven High School for about 7 years before coming to the Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School, where she has been for about 8 years now. Teaching adolescents has absolutely informed her writing. "I'm with teens all the time," she says. "Young adult is definitely my genre."
"Consider" is far from Acevedo's first novel—just the first that's been published. She has four more in a drawer ("two unfinished, one that's gotten some good feedback, and one total failure that should never see the light of day.") A fifth has just been delivered to her publisher, and will be coming out in November. It's been a different process every time, but that's the nature of the beast. It's been said before, but Acevedo agrees: "The only way you become a writer is by writing."
Acevedo's big break came last March when, on a whim, she pitched "Consider" to Pitch Madness, a quarterly event on Twitter where writers tweet a 140 character pitch. "Ten days later I got a call from a publisher and sent along the manuscript. When they offered me a (2-book) deal, I was in shock. You think you might cry, or do cartwheels, but it was just shock," she says. "All I said was, 'Don't you have to go check with someone?'"
The launch of "Consider" will be at the Barnes & Noble in Dartmouth on Saturday, April 23 at 2 p.m., part of a larger book fair in support of GNB Voc-Tech. Starting at noon, the fair will feature family-friendly events such as a Dr. Seuss story time, origami and Manga drawing demonstrations, poetry readings, and refreshments, culminating in Acevedo’s book signing from 2 to 4 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Barnes & Noble is located in Dartmouth Town Center, 392 State Road (route 6). For more information call 508/997-0701 or visit kristyacevedo.com/events.