WELCOME POST: My Mechanical Romance

Hello friends! This week, we’re touring a debut title, My Mechanical Romance! The author of the book may even be familiar to you, but you’ll have to read along to find out! We also are thrilled to be offering a giveaway of one finished copy of the title, courtesy of the publisher! The link to enter can be found after the author interview.

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Book cover

 

My Mechanical Romance
By Alexene Farol Follmuth
Holiday House
Releasing on May 31, 2022
YA contemporary, YA romcom, STEM

 


Nerds are so hot.
Especially battle robot building nerds.

Bel would rather die than think about the future. College apps? You’re funny. Extracurriculars? Not a chance. But when she accidentally reveals a talent for engineering at school, she’s basically forced into joining the robotics club. Even worse? All the boys ignore Bel—and Neelam, the only other girl on the team, doesn’t seem to like her either.

Enter Mateo Luna, captain of the club, who recognizes Bel as a potential asset—until they start butting heads. Bel doesn’t care about Nationals, while Teo cares too much. But as the nights of after-school work grow longer and longer, Bel and Teo realize they’ve built more than just a combat-ready robot for the championship: they’ve made space for each other and themselves.

This sharply funny, academic rivals-to-lovers romance explores both the challenges girls of color face in STEM and the vulnerability of first love with unfailing wit and honesty.

 

Copy of Separators

So you have a YA romance coming out soon, how does that feel?

Very exciting! This has been a long time in the works and I’m so thrilled to finally share this story.

What brought the idea of MY MECHANICAL ROMANCE to you?

I happened to write a short story about a female engineer a couple of years ago and was really moved by the conversation that followed between women who felt invisible in their STEM fields and women who, conversely, felt they were pushed out of STEM early on as a result of the exact same microaggressions plaguing the first group [of women]. Being a woman who “makes it” in STEM requires such exhausting toughness in the face of adversity that gentler things like excitement and curiosity are easily trampled along the way. As if being a teenage girl isn’t hard enough!

I had never written for young adults before, but I wanted to tell a story that was honest about the obstacles facing girls in STEM that also left room to imagine a better ending. Ultimately, My Mechanical Romance is about finding your voice and learning to take up your own space. But also, love. And robots.

MY MECHANICAL ROMANCE features a lot of different characters with differing backgrounds. That thing that seems to unify them is their love of STEM, specifically robotics. Do you have any background in STEM?

Technically I have a bachelor of science [because] I studied urban planning [in college], which is a social science, but that’s obviously a bit of a stretch… My husband is a high school physics teacher, so he’s responsible for any interest I have in science. He told me I had a responsibility to bring more girls into science (and I figured I could do him this one small favor, as a treat)

 

How does MY MECHANICAL ROMANCE differ from [your other published title] THE ATLAS SIX? (Surprised, readers! Alexene = Olivie Blake, the author of The Atlas Six!)

Oh, in every conceivable way except perhaps for the significance of physics! THE ATLAS SIX is an ensemble fantasy and psychological thriller for adults. MY MECHANICAL ROMANCE is a dual POV contemporary rom-com for teenagers. They do both involve a fair amount of science, but otherwise one is a fairly nihilistic exploration of institutional rot (and magic) while the other is about forging a path forward for young women of color in science. MMR takes a much more optimistic view of the world. 

So is that why you chose to write MY MECHANICAL ROMANCE under your “real” name instead of a pseudonym?

[Definitely]. It’s mostly a question of audience—Olivie Blake writes for adults while Alexene writes for young adults. I figured I’d make things easy on myself and use my actual name for my younger audience rather than inventing another persona . . . very boring and logistical!

Which of your characters would you say you are most like? How do you put bits of yourself into your writings?

Bel’s background is my own in that I am first generation American and my mother is from Manila, but in my teen years I was a combination of Teo and Jamie. Potentially a bit of Neelam. The perfectionism and paralyzing fear of failure really defined my high school years. I wish I’d had a bit more of Bel’s willingness to exist in the moment.

I never aim to put myself in my writing, but naturally every character I write sees the world through a version of my lens. The benefit of writing for young adults is that I can pass along some of what my wiser version happens to have learned from experience! The lessons Bel learns are my own hard-fought instances of clarity, especially in the moments she realizes that as hard as it is to change her path, being brave enough to start over affords her an even greater outcome.

If you had to compare MY MECHANICAL ROMANCE to another title, what would you say it is most similar to?

I’ve heard it referred to several times as the teen version of THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS by Ali Hazelwood. (An honor!)

Last question. If readers want to keep up with your writing, where can they find you online?

I’m on Twitter and Instagram as @afarolfollmuth, or you can find me at alexenefarolfollmuth.com.

Wasn’t that interview so fun? If you liked what you read, or if you simply want to read this amazing book, follow this link to the site to entire the giveaway for a chance at a copy of My Mechanical Romance! US entrants only.

 

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Alexene Farol Follmuth, also known under the pen name Olivie Blake, is a lover and writer of stories, many of which involve the fantastic, the paranormal, or the supernatural, but not always. More often, her works revolve around the collective experience, what it means to be human (or not), and the endlessly interesting complexities of life and love.

Alexene tripped and fell into writing after abandoning her long-premeditated track for Optimum Life Achievement while attending law school, and now focuses primarily on the craft and occasional headache of creating fiction. As Olivie, she has been published as the featured fiction contributor for Witch Way Magazine, as well as the writer for the graphic series Clara and the Deviland a variety of other books. The revised hardcover edition of her cult favorite The Atlas Six releases March 2022 from Tor Books. As Alexene, her debut YA novel, My Mechanical Romance, is coming May 2022 from Holiday House.

Alexene lives and works in Los Angeles, where she is generally tolerated by her rescue pit bull. She can be loosely defined as the sort of person who picked up sparring as a means to improve writing fight scenes. To connect with Alexene online, visit her website http://www.olivieblake.com or find her on Instagram @afarolfollmuth

 

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