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Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things (that might surprise you)

The first ever article about me as an author came out last week in my local paper, the Forest Park Review (for some reason direct links to the article don't seem to work so to read it just go to www.forestparkreview.com, then in the menu on the left click on "Hometown" and the article about me is called "Writing Her Own Soundtrack" and dated 1/15/08).

I enjoyed talking to the reporter, he was very nice (though he did make me older by a year in the article which as we all know women don't like very much and my agent's name was misspelled), and I do enjoy the article, but it did give me my first taste as to how I may be portrayed by the media. Part way through the interview, the reporter told me that I'd shattered any stereotypes he'd had coming in. From my website he'd expected a rebellious goth girl, but instead found me very articulate and friendly. I kind of wanted to say that I am a writer with a master's degree so of course I'm articulate and to correct that I'm a punk girl who had a goth phase, but hey, I just thought it was cool of him to admit to that and there is a bit about it in his article, too.

Next he asked me to tell him something about me that people wouldn't expect from a rebellious punk rock writer type. Honestly I thought it was the most fun question he asked, so I want to name a few of my favorite things that might surprise you here:

1. As I told him, I love soap operas. One Life to Live, in particular. I've been watching it for almost 15 years. I got hooked the summer before my freshman year of high school. I tape it every day (because I'm not high tech enough to have a Tivo or actually I'm too cheap. I figure I have a functioning VCR so why bother?) and I watch it while I eat dinner to unwind from my day job and get into writing mode. I love that soap operas have outrageous plot lines that I could never get away with. Watching them gets the creative juices flowing. And I actually have learned a lot about how to push the plot line forward through dialog or how to slow the plot down using evasive characters.

2. Greek mythology. I've loved Greek myths since I was a little girl. I've especially loved the Persephone story (and the image of her I used above), maybe because I think the name Persephone sounds like a cooler version of Stephanie. But seriously, I want to do a modern retelling of it or use it as an overarching metaphor in a book. I tried in the one I am working on now, but it didn't work, so it's going to have to stew a little bit longer.

3. Exercise. I'm kind of a freak, but I actually enjoy working out. Pilates relaxes me, kickboxing makes me feel both bad-ass and silly at the same time, and just going on the elliptical with my iPod and some trashy VH1 programming on the TV at the gym (preferably Rock of Love--because I'm a punk rocker with a soft spot for 80s hair metal) during my lunch break helps me get through the day.

What about you? What are some things you love that people probably never would have guessed about you? Or if you are a writer, what about your characters? Do you have a prom queen who is a secret chess-whiz? A goth girl who loves romance novels? Let's talk about what makes us or our characters unique because that is the best way to breakdown stereotypes and that's one of my favorite things about art/writing, it's universal and it forces us to look past our preconceived notions.


Melissa said...

Great post topic, Stephanie! My main character in Violet on the Runway series is tall and thin... but has always hated that she's, well, tall and thin. When you're 5'11" in 6th grade, that willowy runway-model shape is just plain embarrassing!

Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

Awesome post, Stephanie— let's see, about my characters, in AdiĆ³s, Ali's a basketball fan with a weakness for March Madness. It's not anything that's delved into anymore than a passing mention, but it's enough for Jaime to say she's unbelievably cool, which, when you're hanging with your first boyfriend, is just about the best thing he can say to you.

In Accent, it wasn't so much Caroline who surprised me, but Peter—my nice Cuban boy from Miami had a weakness for listening to country-pop female vocalists when he studied. Again, nothing that made a huge impact in the story, but it served as a way for Caroline to see him in a slightly different light. That just because he appeared to be one thing on the surface didn't mean there wasn't more to him.

As for me, people are often shocked to find out that I'm a huge sports nut and that I was once, many, many moons ago, a competitive figure skater.

Kelly Parra said...

Stephanie, many people believed I was the graffiti girl in the book. Even when I denied it, some still didn't believe me! Congrats on the great interview!

I guess the big surprise to many of my family and friends was that I became a published author. But then, it came to a big surprise to myself. :) :)

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Melissa, that nuance definitely makes your character stand out from the rest in the modeling world. And Barb, those were exactly the little nuances I'm talking about, I love those, even if they aren't huge, they round out the character.

And Kelly, after every reading I do, at least one person comes up to me and asks if I'm in a band because Emily is and the book is in first person. One person actually had the nerve to ask "Did you really lose your virginity like that?" in reference to Emily's experience. AHHHH! It's fiction people. That might just be my next blog entry ;)

Katie said...

Alas, I am not a writer so therefore have no surprises that in characters to read about.
However I think what people, (especially those from high school)would find most surprising is this.
I am an over-achiever, in school, in life, and at work.

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Katie, that doesn't surprise me at all, but then again I know you too well.

alex mcaulay said...

i'm pretty unsurprising--my favorite thing is to just sit on the couch and watch tv and DVDs all day! i could pretty much do that for the rest of my life.

Christopher Golden said...

Stephanie, you've hit on a favorite subject of mine. In college, I auditioned for THE WIZ and when I walked in, the producer and director thought I was some frat football boy sent down as part of my hazing to embarrass myself and mock the theatre people. I got the part. :)

My father-in-law is an 80 year old Sicilian who still works every day at a company he founded, but in his free time, he reads romance novels and watches animal shows on TV.

I don't know if you're familiar with singer/songwriter Amanda Marshall, but she's fantastic. A few years ago she put out a CD called "Everybody's Got a Story," and the title track is a very cool take on this subject. Check it out. :)

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Christopher, I am definitely checking out that CD asap, it sounds right up my alley. And I love the stories about you and your father in law!