Dear Teen Me + Interview

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There are so many things that I would tell my younger teenage self so it's no wonder that I'm excited to participate in the Dear Teen Me blog tour. Dear Teen Me  is a collection of letters that YA authors (Sarah Ockler, Lauren Olivier, Ellen Hopkins, and more) wrote to their teenage selves.

Dear Teen Me


I loved this idea and I loved it even more when I finally received a review copy. It's authentic advice from people who remember what it was like. People sometimes gloss over things when they look back on something, and it's obvious that none of the Dear Teen Me authors did.

Some of the stories in Dear Teen Me make me want to cry and others made me want to laugh. Most of all though, Dear Teen Me  made being a teenager a normal experience. 

So in the style of Dear Teen Me, I'm writing a letter to my (younger) teenage self.

Dear Teen Me envelope


Dear Younger Teen Me,

The older teen you just came back from school, reflecting over lit class. The older teen you is thinking that the class could turn out to be either one of two extremes, really fun or an absolute horror of a class. Still though, you'll take the class because you love books. (On how the class will actually turn out, you'll just have to wait a little while longer because I don't even know the answer to that one yet.) 

But enough about the older teen you, let's talk about you right now. You're confused. Your friends have all moved away (funny how that worked, all your friends at the same time). You're debating about who to sit with, because after all it's high school. You're going to be judged because that's what nearly every book and every movie portrays high school. 

I'll tell you this. You're not. No one really cares. The older teen you won't even think about such things anymore because there are more important things than who you're going to sit with during lunch. You'll spend your time thinking about how to find time to blog and do school work. You'll spend your time worrying about that math test you'll take or that project due the following week. I know the me right now sounds like a nerd, but when haven't I been a nerd? It's not who you should be that matters; it's who you really are that does. Be who you really are. 

But that's probably not on your mind right now. You're probably thinking about some deeply profound question about life that's not going to have an answer (you won't believe this however). Think about it but don't forget to write it down. Write down everything that you ever think about. Write down what you did. Write down your thoughts, your feelings, hopes and dreams. Everything.

It matters later because you'll remember that time through those words. Words are a beautiful thing and writing is so relaxing. You'll laugh and say, "What!" because there's no way that the older teenage you could like writing. You've hated writing (though I just dug up a blog post that you wrote about a potential story that you want to write about...) and there is no way you'll like to write. Well here I am, younger teen me. Believe it or not, you will like to write. 

Write those thoughts down because through it all, it'll help you. Fragments of the sentences that you write will come back to you later as pure genius. Really. Words are only made up of letters but when you place those letters together strategically, what you have will be amazing.

Are you confused? It's okay too, if you don't believe me. You don't have to because every time you fall, I have memories to use as reference. I sound so mean right now, but it's okay to not be perfect. You're only human after all so continue on with your life. 

I also had the chance to interview one of the editors of the anthology, E. Kristin Anderson. The interview is below:






E. Kristin Anderson

1. This book started because of Hanson [the band]. When you started this project, could you predict that it would become what it is today? 

I really had no idea.  I think Miranda [the co-editor] and I sort of tossed the idea around once or twice that it would be a cool book, but I don't think either one of us expected it to happen!  So it was a wonderful surprise when Zest wanted to make it so!  I did, of course, hope that the letters would reach lots and lots of teens and young people.  And I'm so glad that the book is helping us do that!

2. The anthology is chock full of great advice for teens- from finding love, school, to abuse. If you only could give one piece of advice to teens, what would it be?

I'd definitely say hang in there.  I think one thing a lot of us don't realize as teens is that pretty much everyone is struggling.  Just in different ways.  And that once you get out of high school, things do start to even out a bit.  It's just really hard to have that perspective because the grief and the pain and the OMG this sucks moments are all really, really real and immediate.  So hang in there.  Things get better.


3. What do you think is so appealing about Dear Teen Me?

I think that there's something in this book for everyone.  I hope, at least, that every  reader will find a story that he or she relates to, that makes them feel less alone.  And I also think that the stories that we don't necessarily relate to -- the ones that don't touch on our own lives -- make us better people.  I think there's something appealing about that, too -- reading about an author who struggled with illness or body issues might make us feel closer to the people around us.

4. Is there going to be another Dear Teen Me anthology in the works?

I'd love to do one!  Nothing is planned yet, but if the opportunity arises, I'm all over it!  In the mean time, we're continually posting new content on the DearTeenMe.com website, so I hope fans will stop by there!

5. What role do you envision Dear Teen Me playing in the lives of teenagers?

I bet that will vary reader-to-reader.  Some teens might find it to be a fun book to pass around and flip through, kind of like a Post Secret anthology.  And others might hold onto it and read certain letters over and over and find hope there.  No matter how our readers react to the book, we do hope it makes a difference in their lives.  If only for a moment.  And we also hope it makes them laugh a little.  I mean come on -- some of the hair in this book is ridiculous!


Thank you for allowing me to interview you, E. K. Anderson! 

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. Ms. Anderson is the co-editor of Dear Teen Mean anthology based on the popular website. Her poetry has been published worldwide in many magazines and she is an assistant YA and Children’s editor at Hunger Mountain. Once upon a time she worked at The New Yorker.  Look out for Ms. Anderson's work in the forthcoming anthology Coin Opera II, a collection of poems about video games from Sidekick Books and Futuredaze, an anthology of YA SciFi from Underwords.  She now lives in Austin, TX and blogs at EKristinAnderson.com and MetreMaids.com.  She is represented by Christina Hogrebe at the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves. (Zest Books, October 30, 2012, $14.99; ISBN 978-1-9369762-1-8) edited by Miranda Kenneally and E. Kristin Anderson. Zest Books, a leading publisher of nonfiction for young adult readers, is distributed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It is available wherever books are sold!


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