Interview with Krysten Lindsay Hager
What genre do you write and why?
I write young adult and middle grade literature because those were the books that inspired me when I was growing up. When I had a difficult day at school because of friend issues or any sort of problem, I always escaped and found solace in book. I used to think that being an author for teens and preteens had to be the best job on earth because of the impact you made on people. It’s amazing to me that now I get emails and messages from people who feel the same way about my work that I felt about my favorite authors growing up.
Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book, Next Door to a Star, is about a high school girl, Hadley Daniels, whose best friend moves away and she feels all alone, but then gets to opportunity to move to a beach town for the summer and live next door to a former teen TV star, Simone Hendrickson. Hadley wants to fit in with Simone’s crowd and at the same time, not lose her sense of self. It’s easy to feel alone at that age and worry about being ostracized if you don’t go along with the crowd even when you’re dealing with passive aggressive mean girl comments. The underlying message is that everybody feels insecure and that to have a friend, you have to be a friend.
Who are your favourite authors?
I love to read and have a lot of favourites, but a few of mine are: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Judy Blume, Meg Cabot, May Sarton, Susan Shapiro, Kenan Trebincevic, Leo Tolstoy, Edith Wharton, Paula Danziger, and Charlotte Bronte.
What's the best thing about being a writer?
I think the days when the writing is flowing is a great feeling and also when someone reaches out to you or puts in a review something that makes you realize they loved going into your character’s world and that somehow they connected with the character. It’s amazing anytime I get an email from someone saying they felt less alone in their feelings and insecurities while reading the book or identified in some way with the characters.
Who is you favorite character in your book and why?
I love the main character, Hadley, who is just trying to figure out where she wants to fit in and where she is actually comfortable fitting in. I also enjoyed writing the former teen celebrity, Simone, who is still trying to feel comfortable with herself even though her friends assume she has it all together. Simone is as insecure, if not more so, than the others and she is trying to figure out who her true friends are as well.
Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?
I think readers will enjoy the humor in the story, the sweet romance between Hadley and her crush, Nick Jenkins, who is part of the popular crowd, but very sweet and down to earth. I also think they also like seeing that we all deal with insecurities no matter who we are, what we look like, or where we come from. You root for Hadley to “find her tribe,” and stay true to herself at the same time.
Yes! When I was writing the book, I used memories from high school where some of the girls would make passive aggressive remarks or make those “just kidding” comments that really pack a sting. I wanted to show how that can happen and why we still go back and stay friends with those people or why we even want to fit in with those kinds of people. It was when writing those scenes that I realized I don’t have a place in my life for those kinds of friends now and began to weed them out of my life. Then, this summer I attended my high school reunion and witnessed some of those same situations still happening all these years later.
What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.
Right now I’m working with the editor on the third book in a series I have out called the Landry’s True Colors Series. Book 3 is called Landry in Like, and the series follows a teen girl named Landry Albright who is trying to juggle friends, frenemies, a new boyfriend, along with a modeling career. I’m also working on writing the fourth book in that series as well as rewriting my adult humor novel and another YA novel as well.
Does your family support you in your writing career? How?
When I was a senior in high school, my mom took me to a bookstore and marched me over to the writing section. She said, “Ok, if you want to do this, then show me you’re serious.” She picked a bunch of the top writing books for me and then signed me up for a writing conference. It was right after graduation and I was the only kid among a sea of adults. It was like being thrown into the deep end of the pool without pool floaties. But she was trying to make a point and it was the best thing for me because I realized if I wanted to pursue writing then I’d have to deal with the scary part of it as well.
My dad was very supportive and always read every article and story I wrote. He even read the news articles that were so matter of fact and boring. He also helped me out with tuition for writing conferences, classes, etc. I often read to him and my mom over the phone. My dad passed away this summer and I had already planned to dedicate the book to him, but had no clue I was lose him. I was able to change the dedication to honor him, but it was the hardest thing I ever had to write.
My husband reads all my books before they go through the final edits and tells me he is learning a lot about females in the process!
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I read a lot and I’m a big movie and TV fanatic. I also love going to museums and doing day trips to little towns—anywhere inspiring. Recently, I went to a beach town near Lake Michigan called Holland, Michigan. It’s similar to the setting in Next Door to a Star, which is called Grand Haven. I am planning to this new place, Holland, for the setting in a new book. I had a great time going around the town taking pictures and imagining my characters there.