Today I am interviewing fellow author, Krysten Lindsay Hager.
Thanks for joining us, Krysten. We are all eager to get to know you and your work.
Your genres are children, teen and YA values and virtues fiction. What led you to focus your writing for young people?
I loved reading when I was growing up and so many of the middle grade and young adult books I read then shaped me as a person. I remember reading on my bed one day and thinking how amazing it must be to be the author of the book I was reading and how it must feel to touch people’s lives that way. I always wanted to write a book that did that for someone else and I wanted to write teen fiction since it had touched my heart.
Have you found today’s youth to be receptive to the values presented in your work? Perhaps you would like to share what values and virtues you are trying to promote.
I have gotten a lot of messages from young readers who feel like my characters are dealing with the same things that they deal with, such as self-esteem issues, frenemies, social media influences and self-image issues. My characters talk about things like dealing with feeling anxious, feeling like they don’t fit in and having to conform to fit in and those are all things I dealt with growing up. I want to promote that even though we see certain images in the media, that much of that is false—even your best friends Instagram pics can be modified and filtered to look better than they do in reality. I want teens to realize that their value isn’t in their appearance or the things they own or how popular they are, which is something they are really bombarded with in the media. Being a good friend and having your focus on what’s really important and staying true to your values are the things to pay attention to—not who is dating who and what bag everyone is carrying.
You lived in Portugal for a time. What took you there, and what are your strongest impressions of the place and its people?
We moved to a Portuguese island because of my husband’s job. What I first noticed there was the more laid back pace. People will sit and talk over a cup of coffee for hours and enjoy each other’s company. There was less of a focus on schedules and to-do lists and a slower pace of life. I found that when I moved back to the U.S., you could really see a change in me. I drove a few of my family members crazy because they would discuss the “itinerary” of the day while we were eating and I’d say, “Wait, let’s just enjoy our meal and then we can figure out what we want to do or play it by ear.” I really irritated my aunt with that. It was such a foreign concept to her to not have a plan ready to go. Religion is a big part of their culture, which is something that I was brought up with as well, so it felt familiar to me and I enjoyed going out on Sundays and seeing that the focus was on spending time with family and friends.
Like you, I’ve lived in South Dakota. Coming from California, I noticed the cultural differences. What are the biggest differences you notice between South Dakota and Ohio, where you now live?
I moved from Michigan to South Dakota and I remember people would stare at my clothes and not in a, “Oh I want to buy that,” kind of way! At the time, that Jennifer Lopez urban style was what was in style where I was living and working, which was between Detroit and Flint, Michigan. So when I moved to South Dakota, it seemed like every time I’d meet someone they’d say something like, “Oh you’re not from around here.” It would make me laugh a little bit. There was a lot of Scandinavian culture there, which was interesting to me. I liked learning about that. I was in a couple of writing groups at the time and at one event I was introduced as the “ethnic” writer. I guess it was because I was working on my thesis about Polish-Americans at the time. When I lived before in Michigan, no one batted an eye when I began my thesis on that, but in South Dakota, it stood out more. Ohio is much more like Michigan in some ways, but I live in the southwestern part and you do feel more of the southern pace here than you do in Michigan.
How long have you been writing? Is it your full-time occupation or do you have another job?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I started going to writing conferences straight out of high school. I freelanced and have worked as a journalist, so it’s always been about writing for me. Now my focus is on fiction and other types of creative writing and I seemed to have put journalism behind me, but who knows if I’ll ever go back to it.
How many books have you published?
I have three young adult novels published and two coming out next year. My books are: True Colors, Best Friends…Forever? and Next Door to a Star. My other books coming out are, Landry in Like (out January 12, 2016) and Competing with the Star (out March 22).
Can you give us an idea of your writing schedule?
I don’t have a set schedule. I usually do my business admin side of writing first to get it out of the way and off my mind. I write at night and in the early morning. I edit as I go, which is something a lot of writers prefer to do at the very end when they are finished, but I find it helps me to get back into the story easier if I begin with some editing before I begin to write.
Do you have a current project you would like to tell us about?
I am editing Competing with the Star now, which is the sequel to Next Door to a Star. In this book, we see the growth of my teen character Hadley as she and her new boyfriend form a deeper bond as he confides in her about his grandfather being diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s. It brings the two closer together, but then we see people interfering with the relationship and Hadley’s insecurities about never having a boyfriend before and looking at his exes (as well as finding out he had a crush on their friend, a former TV star) really messing with her self-esteem. I love the scenes between Nick and Hadley and the way she navigated through friendships, betrayals and handing her insecurities. She also makes an unlikely friend who has her back through all of it.
Sounds like an interesting book. I’m sure your young readers will love it.
Thank you so much for sharing today. Where can we learn more about you and your work?
Readers, please come back 2/13/16, for my next Second Saturday Interview, when we will be meeting another Young Adult author, Angela Carling, whose latest release is The Secret Keeper, a powerful story of human fallibility, sacrifice, and timeless love inspired by a small town in Heber Arizona. Here’s a little blurb:
When Seventeen year old Winter Merrill chose to make a bargain with the mysterious Secret Keeper, she knew there were rules. The most important one, the next time you have a secret, you will not be able to tell it….even if you try.
What she didn’t know is that her next secret if not told, would destroy her life and the life of Liam, the only boy she ever loved. Can Winter find a way out of the dark bargain that binds her tongue or will her deal with the Secret Keeper bring devastating consequences unimaginable even to her?