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The Mysterious Road to THE IN-BETWEEN, a guest post by Rebecca Ansari

I was raised on puzzles, games and mysteries.

The earliest memories I have of my grandfather are the two of us, stooped over a so-full-it-can’t-be-used-for-dining table, scanning 2000 jigsaw pieces for the right color or shape to fit into the emerging image of a church, country bridge, or whatever was depicted on the nearby box. When we tired of that, we would move to the card table for a family match of Hearts, everyone focused on their hands, calculating how to trick the others and Shoot the Moon. My mother’s bookshelf was dominated by Agatha Christie who-done-its, my dad’s with Isaac Asimov’s Black Widowers Club and others, books they subsequently put in my hands. They would delight in watching to see if I could solve them before the last page. To this day, my mother emails my own children word and math puzzles just for fun.

My mother having finished the puzzle my 4 sons gave her for Xmas this year

This love of problem solving was part of my parents’ professional lives as well. My mother, a math major, spent her career looking at MRI’s, CT scans and ultrasounds, trying to sleuth out the source of a patient’s malady. My father took me to his lab every weekend as he did research to answer questions about why his patients were born premature, and how to best treat their tiny bodies and lungs. I followed in their footsteps, spending twelve years as an ER doctor, investigating if a given patient’s abdominal pain was appendicitis, ectopic pregnancy, a kidney stone, or another of the myriad possible causes.

Me in my doctoring days

When I jumped from ER doc to middle grade author, some of my peers were surprised. The two fields don’t appear to have much—anything?—in common. But it makes perfect sense to me. My whole life, I reveled in being the one to solve the mysteries.

Me in my writing space now

Then, as a writer, I found the thrill of creating the mysteries myself.

What if your little brother disappeared, and you’re the only one who notices? What if you discover that a new girl moving in next door is a very bad omen, but you’re the only one who sees it? These are the starting premises of my first two novels, and I didn’t know the answers to these questions when I began writing each. In trying to figure them out, I frequently wrote myself into such tight corners I was sure I could never find a way out. Story telling is its own mystery, its own puzzle—and it brings with it the thrill of success in figuring out the answers as well as the hope that I’ve created something that will give others that same sense of wonder and satisfaction.

People ask me if I miss being a doctor. I certainly miss a great case, a “good catch,” or a critical save under pressure, but I think many who have read my books find that I’m still doing those things, through the experiences of my characters. If you have a chance to read my debut, The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly, or my new book, The In-Between, I hope you too find a mystery to challenge you—and the thrill of finding the answer.

Meet the author

Photo credit: Amber Rishavy with Pixel Dust Photography

After twelve years as an ER doctor, Rebecca K.S. Ansari shelved her scrubs to write magical and mysterious worlds for middle grade readers. Her debut novel, THE MISSING PIECE OF CHARLIE O’REILLY (2019, Walden Pond Press/Harper Collins) earned a starred review from School Library Journal, an ALA 2020 Notable Children’s Book nomination and was a Junior Library Guild selection. It was also a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. Her second novel, THE IN-BETWEEN, releases January 26, 2021 and has received starred reviews Kirkus, Publisher Weekly, and School Library Journal. It is also a Junior Library Guild selection.

When Rebecca isn’t writing, you can find her joyously biking and skiing, begrudgingly running, or escaping “up north” in Minnesota with her husband, four boys, two huge dogs and a stack of good books. You can find her on Twitter at @RebeccaKSAnsari, on Instagram at @Rebeccaansariauthor, or at her website RebeccaAnsari.com.

The virtual launch party for THE IN-BETWEEN will be this Thursday, at 6:30CST. Everyone in the whole wide world is invited!

January 28 6:30 pm CST. Virtual Book Event! A Conversation with Rebecca K. S. Ansari and Anne Ursu 

About The In-Between

A dark, twisty adventure about the forgotten among us and what it means to be seen, from the acclaimed author of The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly.

Cooper is lost. Ever since his father left their family three years ago, he has become distant from his friends, constantly annoyed by his little sister, Jess, and completely fed up with the pale, creepy rich girl who moved in next door and won’t stop staring at him. So when Cooper learns of an unsolved mystery his sister has discovered online, he welcomes the distraction.

It’s the tale of a deadly train crash that occurred a hundred years ago, in which one young boy among the dead was never identified. The only distinguishing mark on him was a strange insignia on his suit coat, a symbol no one had seen before or since. Jess is fascinated by the mystery of the unknown child— because she’s seen the insignia. It’s the symbol of the jacket of the girl next door.

As they uncover more information— and mounting evidence of the girl’s seemingly impossible connection to the tragedy—Cooper and Jess begin to wonder if a similar disaster could be heading to their hometown.

ISBN-13: 9780062916099
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/26/2021
Pages: 320
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years

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