Tuesday, May 31, 2011

FEATURED SWEETHEARTS: Dear Teen Me




We're delighted to feature the gals who bring you DEAR TEEN ME, E. Kristin Anderson and Miranda Kenneally! They're both made of awesome as is DEAR TEEN ME!

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E. Kristin Anderson's Bio:

E. Kristin Anderson grew up in Westbrook, Maine and is a graduate of Connecticut College. She has a fancy diploma that says “B.A. in Classics,” which makes her sound smart but has not helped her get any jobs in Ancient Rome. Once upon a time she worked for The New Yorker magazine, but she decided being a grown up just wasn’t for her. Currently living in Austin, Texas, Ms. Anderson is active in her local chapter of SCBWI and as a poet has been published worldwide in around two dozen literary journals from the indie-queen Fuselit, to the prestigious Cimarron Review. She also has published work in recent and forthcoming issues of Hunger Mountain. She is in the process of querying a couple young adult novels and keeps herself busy writing and revising other novel projects. She wrote her first trunk book at sixteen. It was about the band Hanson and may or may not still be in a notebook at her parents’ house. Look out for Ms. Anderson’s work the forthcoming anthology COIN OPERA II, a collection of poems about video games from Sidekick Books.


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Miranda Kenneally's Bio:

Miranda Kenneally is the author of SCORE, a contemporary YA novel about football, femininity, and hot boys, coming from Sourcebooks Fire in late 2011. She enjoys reading and writing young adult literature, and loves Star Trek, music, sports, Mexican food, Twitter, coffee, and her husband. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook. Miranda is represented by Sara Megibow at Nelson Literary Agency.


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TXS&S: Can you tell us about Dear Teen Me and how it got started?

EKA:
Dear Teen Me is an online anthology of letters from authors to their teenage selves. It was an idea that hit me like a stroke of lightning as I was walking out of a Hanson concert this past November -- I told my boyfriend that when I got home I was going to write a letter to my teen self about our first Hanson concert. I wanted to tell Teen Me about how amazing Hanson was, about how much fun we had, about how Hanson has changed over the years and about how she/I had changed. I wrote the letter. I put it on my blog. But then I thought, crap, I have so much to tell Teen Me. And I asked some of my writing friends if they wanted to write to their teen selves, too. And it exploded. Thank GOD Miranda volunteered to be my partner in crime.

MK: Ditto!



TXS&S: How has starting Dear Teen Me impacted you and others?

EKA: Personally, it's given my teen self a voice that she didn't have before. She's getting to tell teens out there things that they need to hear. I think the struggle of being a teen is universal -- it doesn't matter if you're Miss Popularity or a total outcast. Some might seem to have it better than others, but a lot of us have a lot of pain and fear. I've had teachers tell me they read the stories aloud to their students. Teens and adults leave comments saying "me too!" It's incredibly fulfilling to feel that sharing your experience is making a difference.

MK: Agreed. I have made many new friends through Dear Teen Me because we all relate to each other based on stuff that happened in high school! My favorite response to Dear Teen Me so far is that a group of teenagers crowded around a computer at a high school library in Virginia and read through all the letters together!



TXS&S: You both are huge advocates of young adult literature--what or who inspires you?

EKA: Any author who puts it out there, no apologies, with respect for her readers really makes my heart move. Laurie Halse Anderson, Lauren Myracle, Ellen Hopkins, and John Green come to mind. All of these authors are pioneers in their own way. And, heck, they've all had their books challenged in schools and libraries. I also am hugely inspired by Francesca Lia Block. Whenever I feel like I can't write, like I'm all dried up, I read FLB and my reasons for writing all come flooding back to me. Her lyrical prose style just blows my mind.

MK: I love reading books that are real and don't try to teach a lesson. To me, YA literature is all about relating and feeling a bond with someone else. I don't like heavy-handed writing and in my own stories, I try never to talk down to teenagers. Some of my favorite authors are: Jennifer Echols, CK Kelly Martin, Simone Elkeles, Carolyn Mackler, A.S. King, Kristin Cashore, Sarah Ockler, Kody Keplinger, Lauren Barnholdt, and David Levithan.



TXS&S: What is the most interesting or exciting thing you have learned while writing your books?

EKA:
I've learned that when authors say that their characters talk to them, they're not crazy. Or maybe they are crazy, but in the artsy way. Because, holy crap, sometimes I wake up and my character has to say something, and I have to actually start writing, like, right now. I've also learned a lot about cryptozoology as research for a book I wrote last year. I might have to write more cryptid books, if only as an excuse to keep reading about this super cool area of science!

MK: Yes - my characters talk to me too! In every book I've written, the main love interest has just shown up out of the blue. Even if I go in with a love interest in mind, some random character will appear and sweep me and my main character off our feet. Also, I have two characters that call each other "bro" and "sis." In real life, I have never called my brother and sister "bro" and "sis" and find it way corny, but for some reasons my characters do that and I listen to them. :)



TXS&S: Any writing tips you wish you could share with your teen selves or others?

EKA: Keep writing. Even if you feel like the weird kid who's writing a novel about Hanson in study hall (uh, hi, I totally did that), keep writing. And save it! In a safe place! I have almost all of my teen journals, but I wish I could find the fiction I wrote back then. And, in general, as a writer, find your community! There are writing communities almost everywhere, and now with things like Twitter, and places Absolute Write and the Verla Kay Blue Boards, you can TOTALLY find some compatriots in your area.

MK: YES! Keep writing and keep trying to get published by putting in lots of hard work and you'll get there. I had plenty of people telling me that the market is too tough and people write for years without ever getting published... but I wrote the book I wanted to read and then agents wanted to read it and now I'm getting published. It can happen!


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Thank you so much!

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