Literary Sister Act: Sibling duo publishes YA sci-fi novel

Cassandra Kyser

Sisters Caroline Akervik, left, and Ruth Rankin.
Sisters Caroline Akervik, left, and Ruth Rankin.

A lot has changed in young adult literature over the last decade, and no one is more aware of that than Caroline Akervik and Ruth Rankin. The two sisters just published Halcyon, which was first drafted around 10 years ago. When Akervik and Rankin recently returned to the project to finish things up, they found that YA novels had become tighter and faster paced, with more dialogue. They were also looking at the manuscript with fresh eyes and saw that pop culture references and slang terms needed updating. Rankin is the younger sister by 10 years and a Millennial, which Akervik found helpful in keeping the novel current. With a little revising, the manuscript for Halcyon was ready for today’s YA readers. 

When it comes to being fast-paced, Halcyon certainly hits the ground running. The third sentence hooks reader with, “How do you explain an alien plot to take over the Earth in a few lines of text?” While the sisters have co-authored in another genre, Halcyon is their first joint YA full-length novel. Akervik has previously published two other YA novels, White Pine and A Horse Named Viking. 

In drafting Halcyon, one sister would write a bit, then pass it off to the other. Akervik lives in the Chippewa Valley, while Rankin is in California. The two would volley the manuscript back and forth, a process they liken to a tennis match. Writing this way allowed for immediate feedback, and the sisters feel as if their distinct personalities are woven together in the plot. 

The novel’s protagonist is adjusting to her new school, dealing with droning teachers and Queen Bees. However, it quickly becomes clear that Halcyon does more than play on the “new kid at school” trope. It was important to Akervik and Rankin that the novel have strong female characters, and they sought to mix a steampunk vibe with the “teen angst” elements.

While Halcyon was initially written as a stand-alone novel, early reviews are showing that readers see the book as part of a series. The story does have loose ends, which Akervik and Rankin are considering wrapping up in a sequel. YA fans will be eager to see what else is to come from this creative sister duo.

Halcyon will be available online (at retailers such as Amazon.com) and in print on Tuesday, Jan. 30. Learn more at carolineakervik.blogspot.com.

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