by Krysten Lindsay Hager
A little competition can really bring out people’s true colors.
Publisher: Astraea Press
Publication Date: June 17th 2014
Every day I walked down the sidewalk to school and wished I were one of the interesting popular girls who ran up with exciting news. Just once I’d like to be one of those girls instead of the being the one who didn’t get invited to things because people “forgot” about me.
Landry gets pushed into trying out for the American Ingénue reality show modeling competition with her two best friends. She doesn’t think she stands a chance, but she advances to the next level in the competition and her friends ignore her when they get cut.
Enter the gorgeous Devon, who also makes the first cut and includes Landry in her clique. Devon becomes the perfect best friend, but can their friendship survive the competition?
Landry hopes her big break could come at any moment, but soon sees there’s much more to modeling.
She begins missing out on being with friends and has the chance to have a boyfriend when she meets a boy named Vladi from another school.
Part of Landry wants to be famous (and have her hair look good for once), but part of her just wants to be accepted. She learns about friendships, being true to yourself, and that a good hair conditioner doesn’t hurt.
The competition was for girls between the ages of thirteen and seventeen, but it felt like Ericka, Tori, and I were the youngest ones there. I only saw a couple of girls from school, and the lineup looked more like something you’d see on a music video set. All the girls were gorgeous, and they had these curvy womanly bodies. I looked like a skinny little kid next to them. The first girl walked out, and I heard the judges say she “owned the runway,” and, “walked like a gazelle.” I was starting to feel ill. I wasn’t sure
which way it was going to come, but I knew I had to find a bathroom — fast. I started to get out of line when Ericka grabbed my wrist.
“It’s almost time,” she said. A tiny bit of spit flew out of her mouth and hit my cheek.
I wasn’t sure why she was so intent on me going through with it, but she had a death grip on my arm, so I didn’t have much of a choice. Her number was called and she walked out to the stage. One of the other girls said she walked like a kid with sand bucket stilts on her feet, but she came back with a smirk on her face like she knew she’d get chosen.
“They said they had never seen such long legs,” she said.
Tori was next.
“She walks like a gorilla at feeding time,” said the girl behind me. I went next, and I tried to focus on not tripping over my feet. My mom’s pumps had a rubber sole on the bottom, which probably wasn’t the brightest idea seeing as my shoes were making squeaking noises as I walked. I was so nervous I couldn’t stop smiling as I walked. I looked like the plastic clown who blows up balloons with its mouth at the Pizza Palace. When I got to the end of the runway, I tried to cross my feet to turn like the other girls had, but I over rotated and ended up doing a full spin which made my kilt fan out and gave the mall walkers a
view of my blue underpants. I tried to act like it was intentional and did an extra turn. One of the judges put her hand up to stop me, and I held my breath as she started to speak.
Krysten Lindsay Hager is an author and book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and also writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. Her debut novel, TRUE COLORS, will be out June 17th from Astraea Press. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows.
Q&A with Krysten Lindsay Hager
Where did the idea for True Colors come from?
I was actually in the sixth grade the first time I started thinking about it. I used to scribble little story ideas down in math class (I spent most of my math classes doing this which, like Landry, is why my math grades sucked) and I remember seeing an album cover of The Bangles that someone had out (oddly it was backstage at a little pre-teen fashion show I was in). The picture was of the four band members and I remember thinking, I wonder what they were like as teens? I starting imaging it and even wrote a description of Landry’s bedroom. Fast forward a few years to college and I was doing an independent study with my English professor, Thomas C. Foster (who wrote How to Read Literature Like a Professor). I did one story with him (I guess you’d classify that one as New Adult now) and we’d talk often about YA and middle grade literature so I knew I wanted to write another one once my time with him was over. I saw a quote by an author saying you should write the book that you want to read. So the following semester, I was at home watching figure skating and thinking, what’s the type of book I’d want to read? I thought, what about that idea with the four friends? So I started typing straight away on the computer and that’s how it began…although I did end up revising that version quite a bit!
Who was your favorite character to write and why?
I loved writing Landry because she’s trying to figure things out and she assumes everyone around her has their life sorted out. Plus, I had fun writing about how she views life and boys. The scenes where she is so nervous as she talks to the high school boy, Vladi, were some of my favorite to write. I totally flashed back to being that age and talking to a cute guy in high school. Even though the age difference of being almost 14 (Landry), and 15 (Vladi), is very small, it seemed so large when you actually are that age.
Do you have a competitive side?
I did as a kid and a teen, but not anymore. I work hard and set goals, but the only person I ever feel I’m in competition with is myself. However, I will take issue with someone if they have a cuter purse than mine. I wish I could say I was joking on the bag thing…I could be covered in mud or wearing sweats, but my bag has got to be hot.
Where did your love for writing come from?
I always loved making up stories. When I was little, my mom used to let me watch soap operas with her and every time there was a cliffhanger (especially a season finale on a prime time soap), I’d get my Barbie dolls and act out the scene the way I wanted it to end. Sometimes I’d even create my own characters. I did that for years and I had no idea there could be a career in that until my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Bostwick, told my mother she thought I would become an author one day.
What were you like back in High School?
I was obsessed with fashion, makeup, and all the supermodels, so it’s not surprising my character, Landry, likes to read about the model that won the American Ingénue contest in the story. I used to save all my gift and babysitting money and go to Somerset mall in Troy, Michigan and buy makeup and clothes—anything DKNY, Calvin Klein, and Versace pretty much had my name on it. I used to pour over fashion magazines like Vogue, Allure, Harper’s Bazaar, and at that time there was a magazine called YM that I loved, too. I had some really great friends in high school and I still talk to almost all of them now even though we’re in different parts of the country. I actually talk to a lot of my high school friends on a daily basis. Thank goodness for Facebook and Twitter!
What made you decide to write for Young Adults?
I always loved reading YA and MG books and when I was in college my history professor knew I was taking creative writing classes and she suggested I write a YA book. I went to the library and took a ton of my old favorites out and it was so much fun to read them again. I discovered that there were authors like Paula Danziger that I didn’t get into as much as a kid because the situations were almost too painful (being excluded, etc.), but that being in college, I could enjoy more. I bought a biography on Paula and one on Lois Lowry and realized that writing was what I was ultimately meant to do. So much of what Paula and Lois were talking about rang true for me in terms of why they wrote.
Lastly, describe True Colors in 5 words… GO!
Friendships, loyalty, insecurities, modeling, bffs.