Interview with Andrew Eliopulos, Author of The Fascinators

Andrew Eliopulos is a children’s book writer and editor living in Brooklyn, New York. He may or may not believe in magic.

Originally from Georgia, Andrew graduated from the University of Chicago, where he double-majored in Germanic Studies and Fundamentals: Issues and Texts.

Andrew’s debut novel, The Spider Ring (written under his birth name), was an International Literacy Association Children’s Choices Reading List pick and a Grand Canyon Reader Award nominee. His first novel for teens, The Fascinators, is forthcoming from HarperCollins in May, 2020.

Photo credit: Dirty Sugar LLC

Describe The Fascinators in 3 words.

Magic has limits.

Can you tell us a bit about your initial inspiration for The Fascinators?

The heart of The Fascinators is a complicated friendship between two boys–one of whom is openly gay, the other of whom isn’t openly anything, although he can be awfully flirty. I navigated similar friendships many times myself growing up gay and closeted in a religious small town, and for years, I’d been trying to get a relationship like that into a story. 

Separately, as a lover of all things that mix the magical and the mundane, I’d been wanting to write a story where magic was commonplace, but where–for different reasons–most people didn’t try very hard to learn it. Finally, I realized that if I set my story in a religious small town like the one where I grew up, then the high schoolers who do want to study magic might be seen as outcasts. 
That conceit worked perfectly with this idea of two boys, one of whom is already used to being an outcast, the other of whom just wants to belong. Thus my two inspirations came together into one book.

The Fascinators

Who is Sam? What was it like writing him?

Sam is a bit like Chidi from The Good Place–a sweetheart who is so in his head about things that he has a hard time making decisions or facing uncomfortable realities. He’s afraid of what will happen to his friend group at the end of senior year, so he wishes the present could just freeze in place for a while. 

Writing him brought back all kinds of memories for me, mostly of times when I agonized over whether someone actually meant what it seemed like they meant. For all his indecisiveness, though, Sam is also a very loyal, supportive friend, and I loved getting to write him in the moments where that attribute was exactly what was needed.

Can you describe your writing process to us?

I do a lot of pre-writing in the form of outlines and journal entries, and those journal entries can include everything from snippets of dialogue to world-building notes. When I actually sit down to write new scenes on the weekends, though, whatever I write will inevitably contradict the latest notes and outlines, so I’ll have to go back and revise everything I thought I knew before pushing ahead the next weekend. Let’s just say The Fascinators took many weekends to complete.

What can we expect from The Fascinators?

Magic-induced flashbacks, romantic angst, a cute boy named Denver, a shocking betrayal. Also: a voice that has a tendency to ramble. Sam and I have that in common.

What are your favorite books written for young adults? Your favorite YA authors?

So, by day, I am a MG & YA book editor, which means that I couldn’t possibly pick YA favorites without omitting a LOT of other YA favorites. There are too many I love with my whole heart. As a sideways answer, I will say that I am dying to read the third book in Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious series, I am recommending Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me to anyone who will listen, and I am still in disbelief that Elizabeth Acevedo followed up a book as good as The Poet X with a book as good as With the Fire on High.

In your opinion, what is the greatest book ever written for younger readers?

I think this question broke my brain! Another sideways answer for you: I’ve read Howl’s Moving Castle more times than I can remember.

Find more about The Fascinators.


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