At 10 a.m. today, when Newbery Honors recipient Jennifer L. Holm signs The Fourteenth Goldfish, due out in August, at the Random House booth, it marks over a decade since Holm has been to the show. “The last time I was at BEA was in 2001. Back then, I was a New Yorker and a newlywed with my second book, Boston Jane: An Adventure,” she says. “Now I greet the BEA floor 13 years later as a Californian and an exhausted mother of two.”

Holm’s latest novel was inspired by an interview she heard on her drive home from a book event, a conversation about life-extending therapies, which shifted into a discussion on life-reversing therapies. The radio interview spurred a series of questions, which began to take root as story. “I started to consider the scientific implications of reversing aging. For instance, if we had the ability to turn an 80-year-old into a middle schooler, how would that affect society in general and kids in particular? On a very basic level: who would be the grownup in a school setting, the teacher or the 80-year-old middle schooler? Who would be in charge? Would old-people-turned-young be allowed to drive, seeing as they’d probably been driving for years? How would dating work? All these questions just filled my mind, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”

The questions metamorphosed into the story of Ellie, a girl who meets a strange young man obsessed with immortality, only to discover he is actually her scientist grandfather Melvin, who’s finally figured out how to reverse the human aging process. “I think that a good book makes you question your place in the world. Growing up (adolescence) and growing old (senescence) are very similar and yet vastly different experiences, and I wanted to explore them in The Fourteenth Goldfish,” says Holm, who is no stranger to science. “My late father was a doctor, and I grew up around a lot of medicine and science. He actually used to keep blood agar plates in the refrigerator next to the cottage cheese so that he could swab our throats when we got sick and culture the bacteria.”

Holm hopes readers of The Fourteenth Goldfish take away one very important message from the story of Ellie and Melvin and their adventures in eternal youth: “believe in the possible.”