Celebrating Debutantes, FEATURES, Giveaways, Interviews

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski (Author Interview + Giveaway)

I’m thrilled to welcome new author Heather Kaczynski on the blog as part of Celebrating Debutantes 2017 blog event. Heather answered few questions for me about her upcoming debut YA novel, Dare Mighty Things.

Dare Mighty Thingwill release in October but you can pre-order your copies now.

Following the author interview is Heather Kaczynski’s author bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to pre-order copies of Dare Mighty Thing. And if you would like the chance to win a signed advance readers copy of Dare Mighty Thing, Heather is giving away one below. Just enter the rafflecopter form a bit further down in this post. I hope you guys enjoy the interview.

Interview with Heather Kaczynski

What’s your journey so far to writerhood been like? What inspired your debut science-fiction novel, Dare Mighty Things?
Like most writers, I’ve been writing stories since childhood. I never finished a story until I graduated college. Before then, I’d started numerous original stories and fanfiction but always petered out once I got past the beginning. This time, I really sat down and made myself finish something I’d worked on and off for years. I told myself: “You’re finally out of school, you have a regular work schedule and nothing much else to occupy your time – no more excuses. If you’re going to be a writer you actually need to finish something.” So I finished it. And the next book I worked on became Dare Mighty Things.

DMT was inspired mainly by where I live – the home of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and Space Camp – and my love of space and sci-fi adventure stories. I’m very passionate about science and encouraging girls to pursue STEM education, as well as all the exciting things the space program is doing and where we’ll be in the next few years. I tried to be as realistic as possible about the science of what’s currently possible or may be possible in the near future, but this book focuses on a girl with a dream and how she works hard to achieve it.

What kind of research went into crafting Dare Mighty Things? Did you read a lot of books about space or other science related materials?
I definitely did! My educational background is in biology, not space science, so I was really starting from square one. I read a lot of astronaut biographies and books about physics. My two favorites were MY DREAM OF STARS by Anousheh Ansari and PACKING FOR MARS by Mary Roach. Also tried to read a lot of Neil deGrasse Tyson to get a good baseline for the laws of physics (so I’d better know how to break them, ha!)

I also went on a behind-the-scenes tour of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and interviewed an astronaut about what it’s like to leave Earth.

Dare Mighty Things is the first book in a planned duology. Did you know it was going to be a two books when you first write the story? Do you already have longer story arcs outlined?
When I first wrote Dare Mighty Things, I knew I had too much story for one book. For a time I thought it needed to be three, but then realized selling a trilogy would be quite difficult, and luckily I found ways to distill everything the story to only two books – which I think made it much stronger. I didn’t have book two entirely plotted, but I did already have the main conflicts and even the plot twists in my head from the beginning. It was a bit of a cliffhanger ending, so I was hopeful that we’d be able to sell the sequel also, and luckily it worked out that way.

What was the biggest change you made to the story before it reached an agent/editor/publisher?
Deciding where to end it. Since I’d always planned to have two books, my main issue was figuring out where to cut my one story into two pieces. It was originally much longer and ended almost in the middle of what is now book 2. Then I cut it too short, making for a very sudden and surprising cliffhanger – this was softened and slowed by my editor so that it’s not so jarring. I think we found a good happy medium.

Many writers tells how their characters take on a life of their own. As you wrote and developed Cassie, is their anything about her that surprised you?
Strangely, Cassie didn’t change much from her first draft. I was initially reluctant to include much of a romance, but kind of forced one because I thought it would be expected of by readers. I came late to the realization that it wasn’t working because Cassie was on the asexual spectrum and I was trying to make her something that didn’t go with her nature. I think I’d always kind of known that, but I had to let her be who she was.

Aside from being a half-Indian, what makes Cassie special for you to tell her story?
I don’t share the same background as Cassie, but there’s a lot of myself in her personality. I was very competitive when I was younger, and dare I say, maybe a little arrogant too. In the book, Cassie follows a similar path that I did as I matured in humbling herself, albeit in a shorter period of time. Cassie also comes to realize she may be demisexual (she begins the book identifying as ace.) And though I don’t currently ID myself the same way Cassie does, a lot of her experiences and feelings are modeled after my own. She’s also very brave, boldly going after what she wants in life – in this way she’s my opposite, as I was always very anxious as a child and afraid of doing the most basic things. Writing her that way was very cathartic and freeing for me, as I’d always wished to be able to go through life the way she does – without fear.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I just want to keep telling exciting stories about adventures in space – and hopefully inspire and entertain people along the way.

And lastly before we end this interview, can you please share to us your favorite scene or line from Dare Mighty Things to intrigue and tantalize us before the book hit the shelves in October.

Here’s a quick line where Cassie reflects on her genetic engineering and her ambition:

“My genes were expensive. I was an investment….My parents didn’t just expect perfect; they had paid for it. It used to bug me, their level of expectation. But not anymore. I wanted the same thing they did: to be the best.”


Heather writes books for teenagers and other people who like books about teenagers. They’re usually about teenagers saving the world, because she really believes they can.

Heather never got to go to Space Camp, so she had to settle for writing about it. After graduating cum laude with a degree in biology, she returned to her first love of books, and now works in a library near NASA. She lives with her husband, their daughter, and way too many books. She’s not nearly brave enough to go into space, but she did twirl a fire baton in high school.

She’s represented by Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency.

Find Heather

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


Book Details:

Title: Dare Mighty Things
Author: Heather Kaczynski
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover, eBook, Audio

THE RULES ARE SIMPLE: You must be gifted. You must be younger than twenty-five. You must be willing to accept the dangers that you will face if you win.Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Gupta’s entire life has been leading up to this—the opportunity to travel to space. But to secure a spot on this classified mission, she must first compete against the best and brightest people on the planet. People who are as determined as she to win a place on a journey to the farthest reaches of the universe.

Cassie is ready for the toll that the competition will take; the rigorous mental and physical tests designed to push her to the brink of her endurance. But nothing could have prepared her for the bonds she would form with the very people she hopes to beat. Or that with each passing day it would be more and more difficult to ignore the feeling that the true objective of the mission is being kept from her.

As the days until the launch tick down and the stakes rise higher than ever before, only one thing is clear to Cassie: she’ll never back down . . . even if it costs her everything.

Book Links

Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Chapters | Goodreads | IndieBound


What’s up for Grab?

  • Pre-order copy of Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski

The Rules:

  • Open International where Book Depository Ships
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends September 16th, 2017
  • Prize will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

7 thoughts on “Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski (Author Interview + Giveaway)”

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