Monday, September 21, 2009

Author Interview: Stephanie Kuehnert

Hey there lovely readers! It's interviews galore! :) Can you believe it? For the third week in a row I actually have an interview to post with yet another fabulous YA author. Check out what Stephanie Kuehnert has to say.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in St. Louis in the fine year of 1979. Moved to Oak Park, IL, a suburb of Chicago when I was 8. Went off to live in Madison, Wisconsin and Ohio briefly, but returned to the Chicago area to get my bachelors and master's in fiction writing at Columbia College Chicago. I currently live in Forest Park, IL with my fiance (wedding is in October!) and our three cats. I love punk rock and reading. I'm vegan. I'm the author of I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE and BALLADS OF SUBURBIA, both from MTV Books, but I still earn my living as a bartender.

What got you started writing? What brought you to YA?

I've been writing for as long as I could remember. As a little girl I idolized Laura Ingalls Wilder and wanted to write my life story like she did. But my life wasn't that interesting so I started writing fiction. As for why I write YA, I just gravitate toward coming of age stories. The teenage years are what shape you into the person you are. My teen years were a crazy, tumultuous time and I was always looking for books that reflected the way I felt. I didn't find many, so I started writing stories to fill that void.

Tell us about your most recent/ upcoming release?

My most recent book is BALLADS OF SUBURBIA. I think the back jacket copy sums it up best:There are so many ballads. Achy breaky country songs. Mournful pop songs. Then there’s the rare punk ballad, the ballad of suburbia: louder, faster, angrier . . . till it drowns out the silence.

Kara hasn’t been back to Oak Park since the end of junior year, when a heroin overdose nearly killed her and sirens heralded her exit. Four years later, she returns to face the music. Her life changed forever back in high school: her family disintegrated, she ran around with a whole new crowd of friends, she partied a little too hard, and she fell in love with gorgeous bad boy Adrian, who left her to die that day in Scoville Park. . . .

Amidst the music, the booze, the drugs, and the drama, her friends filled a notebook with heartbreakingly honest confessions of the moments that defined and shattered their young lives. Now, finally, Kara is ready to write her own.

Do you plot out in advance, or just start writing and see where things go from there?

I just start writing. Right now, working on a third book, I'm trying to plot though. It's not going very well.

Many authors have told me their characters talk to them, and sometimes even have different ideas of where the story should go than the author. Do you hear your characters?

Yes. I hear them. I dream them. And I do listen when they want the story to go another way.

Who is your favorite character (of your own)?

Oh man, I really can't choose because I do love them all for many different reasons. Emily from I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone is the kind of girl I wish I could be. Kara from Ballads of Suburbia is more like the girl I was. I love Emily's best friend Regan and Kara's best friends Maya, Stacey, and Cass. Kara's bad boy love Adrian is like my bad boy love. I just want to fix him. And then there is Kara's brother Liam. I really, really feel for Liam. This is like trying to pick my favorite child. I can't! I'd rather ask readers who their favorite character of mine is and why :)

What hobbies do you have when you're not writing?

Hobbies, I have no time for hobbies! Seriously, I really don't. Other than reading and listening to music. I also watch TV- soapy drama stuff. I really want to learn to play guitar, but I just don't have enough time to practice. I've learned that lesson repeatedly.

If you had not become a writer what would you have done instead?

Before I went to school for writing I went to school briefly for sociology. I wanted to be a social worker. Sometimes I still think about that. But I also toy with the idea of going back to school to be a librarian. I just need to be near books in some fashion.

Where can readers find you online? is my main website. I blog regularly at and I tweet even more often at

Your turn. What question do you have for readers of Want My YA?

Umm, well the favorite character question that I asked above. But if you haven't read my books, then who are some of your favorite YA characters in general and why?

Thank you so much Stephanie! I love your responses. :) Totally need to move Ballads to the top of my TBR pile. And I'm also thinking I'm going to need to see if we have I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone at work, cuz I'm gonna need to check that one out too.

Favorite YA characters...hmm...I love Bertie from Lisa Mantchev's Eyes Like Stars. I love Caleb and Maggie from Simone Elkeles' Leaving Paradise. There are probably so many more, but those are the first ones that come to mind. :)

1 comment:

Lori T said...

Hi Stephanie~

I have read both your books and I absolutely loved them both. They just have so much to offer and your characters emotions are very genuine and real. As a parent, I think that kids are very lucky to have such great young adult books out there. Thanks for adding to great books out there. I am a huge fan!

My favorite character of yours is probably Kara. Reading her story was so powerful. I really was rooting from her from the very first page to the last and her strength was amazing. Adrian was an great character too, and something about him appealled to me from the start...I think probably that "bad" boy image and he reminded me of some people that I have known.

Again, thank you for putting such great, strong, and touching books out there.