One question I get asked a lot in interviews is what inspires me to write my books. I’m very visual, so looking at pictures in magazines and seeing people on TV and in movies often sparks something in my mind. I like to watch biographies on people I know nothing about and then I jot down one or two little characteristics that stand out to me. I keep them in a notebook and then I go back and look at what I wrote down to see if anything triggers a character idea. It’s easier for me to create a whole new character than it is to base anything on a person I know in real life or on a celebrity.
When I was in college, I had to write a story for a creative writing class. I ended up using two celebrities as my “models” for two of the characters. I didn’t know anything about the one guy in real life, so I bought a biography of him. Problem was, he came off as a super nice guy, but he was supposed to be the jerk boyfriend in my story. So now it was harder for me to write him as a cold, unfeeling guy when I had just read how sweet he was in actuality. Meanwhile, as luck would have it, I ended up going to an event where the guy who was inspiration for my “bad boy with a heart of gold” was at. I had thought he was a very friendly and personable guy from what I had seen in the media and I had no clue he would be at the event I was at. When I got there and heard he was there, I thought it was meant to be…until I saw him in action. He was so arrogant to the people around him. He didn’t walk past his fans, he strutted past them like he was a king with a smirk on his face. If that wasn’t off-putting enough, he totally ignored the kids and fans that were standing there waiting for autographs. It ruined my impression of him, which in turn ruined my character. I learned my lesson then to never, ever use anyone real as a model for a character’s personality.
It’s actually easier and more fun to make up my own characters and then see where they take the story (and me) as I write it. I might use the physical appearance of an actor, singer, or athlete, to help me picture a character in a scene, but I like to use people whose personal life I know nothing about. The last thing I need to hear is that the face of the person who is my character’s sweet boyfriend is actually two-timing his real-life girlfriend. So sometimes I pick people who are known in other countries, but not in the U.S., so there’s less chance of me hearing about them. Sometimes that fails and I do find out little things here and there. Once in a while I will hear or read something that is so much like the character I’ve created that it freaks me out! My family says it either means I’m really on the right track…or I’m a creepy witch with freaky intuition—hahaha! I prefer to think that it’s a sign that the story is going the way it’s supposed to be. But just in case, I often take those odd coincidental parts out because it is a little weird to find out that a scene I wrote months ago played itself out in real life. Apparently that happens to a lot of authors. I guess art really does imitate life sometimes!
The Landry's True Colors Series is a clean reads young adult humor series about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, middle school and high school, frenemies, crushes, and self-image. It’s clean reads book so it’s suitable for ages 10 and up.
Excerpt from Landry In Like (Landry's True Colors #3)
“I’m waking you up at four a.m.,” she said. “You have to be there at five-thirty.”
“Can I just call Peyton and Ashanti? Please?”
“Fine, but you have five minutes and then that phone is mine and you’re in bed.”
I dialed Peyton, but her mom said she was in the shower. I told her mom about the show tomorrow and said my mom wouldn’t let me stay up any later to call Peyton back.
“How exciting! I will make sure Peyton knows, and I will be watching you tomorrow. Good luck, honey,” Mrs. Urich said.
I called Ashanti next and told her.
“Get out. Get. Out. No way. This is so exciting!”
“I’m so nervous. My stomach is already doing cartwheels. I can’t do one, but my stomach can. Seems unfair. What if I throw up before I go on? I did that right before I went on at the statewide Ingénue modeling competition in Detroit, and my mom had to give me a cough drop to cover up the smell.”
“I’m sure you’ll be fine, but… just in case, take a cough drop with you,” Ashanti said. “Good luck. You’ll be great and I’ll go set the DVR now.”
I hung up and sent a text to Vladi, India, Devon, Thalia, Tori, and Ericka, so no one would be mad and feel left out. Then I shut off my phone. Mom poked her head in the door to make sure I was in bed.
“Night, hon. Try to get some rest,” she said.
Easier said than done. I stared at my ceiling while thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong tomorrow. Seeing as the show was on in the morning, I never got to watch it, so I had no idea what the set was like — did it have super high chairs and I’d struggle to get into them? And what if it had those higher stools that were kind of tippy and my rear overshot the seat and I fell off? Or what if the prep questions got lost and the interviewer asked me random things like my feelings on nuclear war or asked me about some foreign political leader who I had never heard of before, and I appeared stupid? Why did I say I’d do this? I tried to get comfortable and it felt like I had just dozed off when I felt my mom shaking my shoulder.
“Rise and shine, TV star,” she said.
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Krysten Lindsay Hager is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series, a clean reads young adult series and the new Star Series. Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, middle school and high school, frenemies, modeling, crushes, values, and self-image in True Colors, Best Friends…Forever? And Landry in Like, as well as in, Next Door to a Star (Star Series). Her sequel to Next Door to a Star will be out March 22 2016.