As the author of the the Teen Wytche Saga, I know how difficult it can be to write about teens. So I'm especially happy to welcome back guest blogger, Krysten Lindsay Hager, author of the Landry’s True Colors Series, a clean reads young adult series about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, middle school and high school, frenemies, modeling, crushes, values, and self-image.
Best Friends…Forever? was ranked at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values & Virtues Fiction and #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Children's Books on Values.True Colors is an international bestselling book.
Writing About the Teen Years: Guest Post By Krysten Lindsay Hager
The Landry’s True Colors Series is all about self-esteem, friendships, crushes, fitting in, middle school and high school, frenemies, values, and self-image. It’s not always easy for me to go back in time and revisit those memories, but it’s part of the process. I knew I wanted to be a writer at a very young age, but I got serious about it right when I graduated from high school. The hardest part for me was finishing a story, but I did that for the first time in college with a novella while doing a one-on-one study. It was then that I decided to write young adult fiction and I started re-reading my old journals and going through old memories. When I got married I thought that even though I had started getting published under my maiden name, it would be easier to write about those teen years if I wrote under my married name. Then, one day after the wedding, I got an invitation to join Facebook and I was all, “What’s this? This looks fun!” Two months later and people I shared crayons with in pre-school were friending me and all possibilities of me using my own actual real-life experiences in my stories were out the window. Sigh. Stupid Facebook. So now I must write Landry’s experiences as her own. That’s not to say my own memories don’t infiltrate and inspire certain plotlines though. My mom saw a lot of things I had been through in a new character in the series.
I may not use my actual experiences word for word, but I channel those feelings into the books. Writing about the teen years means going back and sharing the awkward and insecure feelings I had like wondering why someone who was supposed to be my friend was saying passive aggressive things to me—the whole, “Just kidding!” statement made after a mean spirited comment was thrown my way. Or how I felt while modeling and then feeling expectations to always look a certain way. And, of course, all the boy drama. Nothing like hearing rumors about another girl going after the guy you’re with, right? There’s a part in the first book in the series, True Colors, where Landry has been left out by her two best friends. Landry has to get up and walk across the room and ask another group of girls if she can join them. I remember an editor told me, “My heart was in my throat as I wondered, would these new girls accept her? Would they let her sit with them?” As this woman told me how she felt emotionally connected with Landry, it hit me—that moment I had written about was based on my own feelings. I had done that incredibly long walk back in middle school to another table to see if someone would let me in their group after my own had stopped talking to me for a day (who knows why, but at the time it seemed catastrophic). That awkward, uncomfortable memory that I wasn’t even sure I should write about had brought up something in this woman who was reading it for the first time. It was then that I realized that Landry’s (and my) vulnerabilities were the only way to bring truth and honesty to the story.
However, I never could have written this story back then because you need time to process all of those things and realize why they happened and what you can learn from them. While writing the story, it hit me that Landry’s parents could share with her what they had gone through themselves when dealing with self-doubt and insecurity when Landry talks about her fear of failure. As a teen, I never really picked up on what my own parents went through even though I witnessed my mom have “frenemy” moments of her own. It began to hit me how all these things never really stop, they just change a little as you get older. Recently, I’ve had friends share emails that hurt them from other adults and honestly, they could have been written by 14 year old mean girls. I realize now how important it is to learn how to handle these things early on and to know you’re not alone in having to go through these situations. I wrote the books I wished I could have had at that age to let me know I wasn’t alone in what I was feeling and going through and I hope now it helps someone else.
Good friends have your back, but some go behind it.
Blurb: Landry Albright hopes the new year will start off in an amazing way—instead she has to deal with more frenemy issues, boy drama, and having most of her best friends make the cheerleading squad without her. Suddenly, it seems like all anyone can talk about is starting high school next year—something she finds terrifying.
Landry gets her first boyfriend (her crush, Vladi), but then gets dumped just as things come to a head with her friends. She feels lost and left out, but finds good advice about dealing with frenemies from what she considers an unlikely source. Landry faces having to speak up for what’s right, tell the truth (even when it hurts), and how to get past the fear of failure as she gets another shot at competing in the American Ingénue modeling competition. Will she get a second chance with her friends, fame, and Vladi?
I was so nervous the night of the basketball game. At first, I didn’t even want to go into the gym, but I mustered up the courage just as the game ball went streaking past my head and I almost got knocked over by a referee. The ref blew the whistle and went to hand the ball off. Vladi was standing right there and he nodded at me. Peyton squeezed my arm as we sat down, but I didn’t think it was that big a deal because he didn’t smile at me or anything.
“Duh, he was playing basketball, but he acknowledged your existence,” she said.
“Kind of like how that cheerleader who keeps screaming out his name is acknowledging him?” I pointed to the girl with glossy straight brown hair who was doing back flips on the sidelines.
“Forget her. He must like blondes anyway. He didn’t check me out after all,” she said.
I checked around to see if Carey was there, but I didn’t see her. I did see India sitting with Doug and Cristian though. I poked Peyton, but she had already seen them.
“Devon would kill her,” she said.
“Um, should we tell her? They just started talking again,” I said. I didn’t want to get in the middle of another fight and I could tell that Peyton felt the same way. Besides, it wasn’t like Doug was Devon’s boyfriend. I’m sure India thought she would be safe since other than her and Devon, the rest of us hadn’t gone to the away games before. Peyton said we should try to avoid them after the game so we could pretend that we never saw them together. However, I ran into her on my way out of the bathroom at halftime.
“Landry,” India’s aqua blue eyes widened. “Are you here to see Vladi?”
I nodded and we both stood there. Peyton came in to see what was taking so long and almost passed out when she saw India.
“You guys, could you not say anything to Devon about this? I came by myself and I just ran into Doug here,” India said.
Peyton and I acted like we hadn’t even seen Doug. I knew India had to be lying because who would go to a game by herself? We agreed not to say anything. The whole time I worried about what would happen if Devon found out that I knew about Doug and India. Peyton told me to relax because we weren’t doing anything wrong. I wasn’t sure which was worse: keeping a secret from Devon or breaking up her friendship with India?
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Author bio: Krysten Lindsay Hager is a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in Portugal, South Dakota, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.
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