Ohio-based author Krysten Lindsay Hager originally worked as a journalist before turning her hand to writing books for teens, pre-teens, and women of all ages about fitting in, friendship, fame and learning to be yourself. She says humor is an essential part of her work.
What made you want to be a writer? How did you begin writing?
I’ve been making up stories since I was a kid, but when I got to grade school my teachers started telling my parents they thought I would be a writer. My mom told me my senior year that if I was serious about it then I had to show her. She sent me to my first writing conference that year and I knew I had found my tribe.
What inspires you to write?
I write the books I wanted to read growing up. I write for the girl in her room who has had a difficult time with friends and frenemies and not knowing who to trust and maybe not comfortable with who she is yet.
Is there any particular incident that has happened along your writing journey that you’d like to share?
It threw me the first time I was asked if Landry’s situation with her friends turning against her had happened to me. I was on live TV and my thoughts went wild. I shared that I had gone through all of that personally and later I thought about it and realized that this was something I needed to share with my readers. In the beginning I had thought I could just share my experiences via the page, but when I have spoken out about my personal experiences feeling left out and pushes around then I get messages from reading saying, “Me, too,” and I realize how it helps them feel less alone.
Your new young adult book Dating the It Guy is coming out in March 2017. Please explain the process leading up to this and how you are feeling at this point.
I’m excited. I have gone through a round of edits and am waiting for the next round. This book deals with some personal issues with the insecurity young girls go through in relationships—especially in Emme’s case dating a popular guy who is well-known even outside of the school because Brendon’s dad is a senator. Dating is hard enough, but when you have girls throwing themselves at your boyfriend—yikes! Emme also has to deal with her grandmother getting sick and her grandfather’s dementia. I have been amazed by the reaction to the manuscript so far, so I am eager to get it out into the world.
How do you handle rejection as a writer?
I accept that it’s part of the job. You can write for yourself and those closest to you without rejection, but if you want a career in this business then you have to get used to it. I got some good advice years ago that rejection is like going into a store and your friend is in love with an outfit and you just don’t care for it at all. It’s the same idea where one person might love your manuscript and someone else is lukewarm to it. That put it into perspective for me.
How do you deal with isolation, as writing is an inherently private exercise?
I was lucky that in college a professor gave us a book to read called Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton. That whole class made me realize the important of solitude in writing and once you realize it’s a must for writing, it becomes a necessity. I used to need my writing critique groups to get out and share with people who understand where I was at, but now it’s easier with the fact you can escape with social media for a connection. Now that I’m not working in journalism, I can be out in public and still working on a story idea. Once you focus on writing full-time, it’s like your brain changes!
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Everyone stresses how important it is to read, but I’d also add to take literature classes. Writing classes are great, but literature classes are so important because it’s like learning from the masters.
Any advice for approaching publishers?
This is the best piece of advice I can give and the one that’s the most ignored. Do tons of research about the industry. I’m talking hours in libraries, conferences, workshops, etc. And I don’t mean a couple months either. You need to learn about the business and I can guarantee you that when you do get published you’ll still realize how much you didn’t know. Learn the pros and cons of the industry and decide what’s most important to you. If creative control is most important to you, then self-publishing, hybrid publishing, or smaller publishers might be the way to go. Learn what signing with the big publishers will mean.
Any advice specific to your genre?
If you want to write for teens and preteens then you need to be authentic and honest. Teens can sense when you are being real and you owe it to your audience to be real.
Which writers do you admire?
I call F. Scott Fitzgerald my literary boyfriend. I also like Cathy Hopkins, May Sarton, Susan Shapiro, Cathy Cassidy, Judy Blume, Dani Shapiro, and Lysa TerKeurst.
How will you go about marketing your upcoming book?
I like to do blog tours to get the word out.
What do you think is the biggest marketing challenge for new authors?
Getting your name out there is tough. With social media there are so many authors out there and it seems like in the YA market there will be just a handful of names you see.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with aspiring writers?
The day I signed my contract I saw another writer post that she loved writing, but hated being an author because it was hard and scary. I wondered what I was in for. I’ve since learned that writing the book is the easy part with getting published a close second. Life changes once you get published and that’s where the hard part comes. So enjoy the process of writing and write to help others.
You can find out more about Krysten's upcoming work via her website and social media: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Her books can be found via the following links:
True Colors, Best Friends…Forever, Landry in Like, Next Door to a Star, Competing with the Star.