Posts Tagged ‘Teen Seen’




Teen Seen – Rebecca Britt

Filed under: Touching the Surface

For awhile now, I’ve wanted to start doing teen interviews.  I’ve had the urge to do this for a couple reasons. The first is that I’m fortunate enough to know some very amazing teens and they always astound me.  The more I learn about them–the more I want to learn.  In fact, I’m usually so impressed, I want to share them with the rest of the world.  

There is a second reason I decided to do this kind of an interview–I write for teens and I’m friends with a whole bunch of folks who do the same thing. *grin*  I know for a fact that they’re always looking for ways to get into the heads of young adults.  As YA writers, we always want to know teenagers as readers, but we also want to dissect them and use their parts in our writing. I mean this in a completely non-bloody, kinda nice way.

I hope you love what can happen when a teen can be seen…

Today’s Teen Seen interview is kind of cool.  In the past, I’ve had the good fortune of bringing you interviews from wonderful young adults who are in my day to day life.  Rebecca Britt is a different story.  One day I noticed that K.L. Going highlighted a piece of Rebecca’s writing on her FB page.  I read the quote and loved what she had to say.  I then friended her.  Over the course of weeks, we’ve struck up a dialogue.  We’ve connected over books and writing and our crazy love for Friday Night Lights.  The more we talked, the more we learned about each other.  Now, we’re friends–real friends.  I feel like I’ve known her my whole life.  But don’t take my word for it–you can get to know her yourself…

Alright Rebecca–tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Becky, a college freshman. I love writing on typewriters, but will settle for candy wrappers if need be. I write a perzine called Evil Flower and when I write fiction it’s mostly about this child named Dee who refuses to leave my brain. 

Evil Flower #1 is a 24 page perzine with pieces about innocence, living with a chronic illness, hatred,
 my one sided love affair with a cat and more.

I’m going to tell you a secret. When I was in college all I had was a typer writer. *gasp* If you wanted to use a computer you had to go all the way to the computer lab and wait for an empty slot to open up.  

So, can you tell us a little bit about what a zine is and how you started writing one?

I have a really hard time pinning down what exactly a zine is, so I’m turning to the experts. According to the Barnard Zine Library, “short for magazine or fanzine, a zine is a self-publication, motivated by a desire for self-expression, not for profit.” Being the YA lit fanatic that I am, it is fitting that I came across zines in the book Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger. Marisol–one of the first girl characters I had a crush on–wrote these amazing things in her zine and I knew I wanted to make one. It wasn’t until a few years later that I actually sat down and made Evil Flower.

This is what happens to my living room when I lay out a zine. 
My parents at this point accept that I monopolize the floor for a little while every few months.

I love that book and Ellen is a sweetie. That’s exactly where I learned about zines LOL! Too funny.  So, what do you like to write about in Evil Flower? And how have your readers responded to it?

Evil Flower is what is a “personal zine” or a perzine.  I often write about my struggles with depression and an autoimmune disease, but people often respond to the less grand pieces in the zine. The piece I got the most feedback on was a single page about about what I wish for when I make paper cranes. People really liked it but also told me that my handwriting was horrible! Zines allow a really open forum for feedback and constructive criticism and my zines have improved with each issue because of it. 

Evil Flower #2 is a perzine with pieces about apathy, pain, my crane wishes and more. 

I’m always surprised at what blog posts get the best response. Sometimes something I think isn’t going to garner much attention is a favorite. It’s hard to predict.  Hmmm TOUCHING THE SURFACE has paper cranes in it.  Even more secret things we have in common.  I’m going to have to inbox you and find out more about this. (((hugs)))

I’m really glad you’re using your writing to help with your depression and an autoimmune disease. That has to be really tough.  I’m sorry you’re going through such a hard time.  In the not so recent past, there was a trending thread on twitter called YASaves. I know you’re an avid reader and I was wondering what YA books have influenced you.

Man Kimberly, I could write a book about this. I keep rewriting my answer because I ramble on an on about this. People are warned against asking me about books I love because I never shut up once I get the chance to gush about books.

One (out of about a billion) book that I think of is Empress of the World by Sara Ryan. In Empress of the World Nic goes to camp and becomes mesmerized by a girl named Battle. I wasn’t that young when I read it, but girls having feelings for other girls had always been a far off concept, something that barely even existed except on TV. That book opened my eyes to who I might be. It’s not like I read that book and stood on a table and decided I was bisexual–books can’t make you change your sexuality. It’s BS when people say that they can. Being bisexual was already part of me: I had wanted to marry girls, I had been obsessed with the girl with long black hair in my biology class, but I had never considered that it could mean anything until I read Empress of the World. 

And I would be remiss not to mention Fat Kid Rules the World. (We never would have met if we hadn’t both been facebook friends with the author, KL Going!) Fat Kid Rules the World has left an impression on my life that has grown since I first read it at 13. It made me want to write books in the first place, it keeps me from letting my insecurities eat me alive, it opened my eyes to drug addiction and my little worn out paperback copy is like my security blanket. 

Now I am cutting myself off from long explanations but some more books are: Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern, Upstate by Kalisha Buckanon and Chloe Doe by Suzanne Phillips. Now I am cutting myself off again because I could list hundreds!

I love that you’re a book junkie!!! I also think it’s very brave of you to share something so personal. Everyone should be allowed to be and explore who they are. I am so happy a book made you feel comfortable. I have to agree-Fat Kid Rules the World and K.L. Going are favorites of mine and I love them even more for connecting us and allowing us to become friends. 

So what do you want to be when you grow up? I use the term “grow up” loosely because I’m still working on that in my forties. :o)

In a perfect world I would want to write YA novels as a career. I have gotten pretty far into writing a few novels, but the first two were horrible so I gave up. The third I have been going back to every once in a while, so I may finish it someday. I’m at a college with an excellent creative writing program and am so impatient to start the workshop classes. 

I started this with “in a perfect world” because I know that it may never happen. So my realistic dream is to be a librarian. I love libraries and books. One of the librarians at my local library has been trying to dissuade me from that dream–he is half joking but he is too persistent to be kidding 100%. I’d be studying and he’d come up to me and outline the boring tasks he had to do that day and I’d say “I’ll do it for you!” which just irritated him more.

I want to be very clear about something with you. I also knew I wanted to be a writer and I KNEW it would never happen. Be a librarian because you love it AND be a writer too. 

So tricky question because you are such a supporter of YA literature–What are we doing wrong? What do we need to do better?

I think there is this temptation to try to trick young readers into thinking the worlds is better, safer and more forgiving than it really is. Maybe not so much from the writers, more parents want their children to be reading something that makes them feel optimistic about the world. 

But the world is messed up. I’m an optimist and everyone hates me for it.  I also know that everything gets wrapped up all pretty for you in this world and I hate it when books tell me that they do. YA books are hardly the only culprits of the Everything is Fine ending–Tale of Two Cities is practically a template for it. But I feel like it’s worse to do in YA Lit because people are already trying to force this idea of a just world onto us. 

And actually, for the most part YA books are doing a really fantastic job of doing this. A big book that comes to mind is Compromised by Heidi Ayarbe. It ended so perfectly because the ending was far from perfect for the characters. The books with the “Everything is Fine” endings stick out because the more YA books I read, the less I found. 

So really I’m not answering your questions. I’m saying KEEP GOING. Keep telling us the truth.

Yay!  Thanks for the pat on the back.  I think that’s exactly the kind of motivation I need to write the story I need to tell.

Ummm last question…I promise. We have “bonded” over a mutual love of Friday Night Lights. *grin* Why should people watch this show???

I love Friday Night Lights so much that when you posted that you started watching it, despite never having spoken before, I practically jumped every status about it.

Friday Night Lights is the ultimate show. People think it’s a show about football, but it’s not. It’s a show about people. Football is just kind of what ties everyone together. It seems like most shows have heightened realities and neon characters, but Friday Night Lights isn’t like that. There is nothing artificial about this show. The acting is genuine, the characters are like real people. 

And watching Friday Night Lights may bring you great new friends!

I can’t argue with that.  Becky, thank you so much for being interviewed.  I think you are an amazing person and I am so glad that we’ve become friends.  You can click here to find out more about Becky’s perzine EVIL FLOWER.  Or you can email Becky and find out how to get a copy of her perzine at — I loved my first copy and I’m eagerly awaiting my next installment.  Especially because it comes in that gorgeous homemade envelope.

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Teen Seen-Kristin Battersby

Filed under: Dancing, Young Adult (YA)

For awhile now, I’ve wanted to start doing teen interviews.  I’ve had the urge to do this for a couple reasons. The first is that I’m fortunate enough to know some very amazing teens and they always astound me.  The more I learn about them–the more I want to learn.  In fact, I’m usually so impressed, I want to share them with the rest of the world.  

There is a second reason I decided to do this kind of an interview–I write for teens and I’m friends with a whole bunch of folks who do the same thing. *grin*  I know for a fact that they’re always looking for ways to get into the heads of young adults.  As YA writers, we always want to know teenagers as readers, but we also want to dissect them and use their parts in our writing. I mean this in a completely non-bloody, kinda nice way.

I hope you love what can happen when a teen can be seen…

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a Teen Seen interview, but this one has been in the works for a while and I’m really excited to share it with you. Meet Kristin Battersby.  Kristin and I got to know each other by dancing together.  I’m missing her now that  she’s busy being a college freshman, but I loved finding out more about her than I ever knew. She’s so amazing I’m dying to share her with you…

My name Kristin Battersby, and I am seventeen years of age. I graduated high school not too long ago, and come this fall, I will make a fresh start at SUNY New Paltz. My major is undecided right now, but that’s only because there is so much I want to try that I don’t know quite where to begin… I’ve experienced a lot in the time that I’ve had, and I want to do my best to not only keep those experiences as close as possible, but also to expand on them and share them with others.

The theatre is a huge part of my life. It began with my parents, my mom acted in high school, and my father still acts to this day. I fell in love with the stories performers told, and I began to act once I was able to. Since then, I’ve had several roles in not only school shows, but in readings I’ve done locally. I’ve even been paid for my work, which is thrilling to me because I’d love to someday be in a movie or on the stage professionally. I don’t just like to act though, I dance (with you, Kimmie! =D), I write, and I work behind the scenes.

Kristin is a wiz in a dance production of the Wizard of Oz.

I also love music. I love to listen to it, and I love to make my own. I can sort of read sheet music, but I’m much more accustomed to playing by ear. RIght now I play the piano and the guitar, and I love to sing. 

Literature is one of my greatest friends. I read books upon books, and then I read them over again. I’ve been playfully teased about my taste, my favorite books tend have flecks of romance twisted into pain-filled storylines, and there is usually a happy ending. My favorite books are also the ones that capture very pure moments of the living experience.

I love to travel! My family has driven across the US and back over a period of six weeks, and I hope to do it again on my own. I’ve also always wanted to see India, Greece, and Egypt. Maybe someday I’ll find a travel buddy and we’ll have ourselves a nice trip.

And just so you know… I’m a very passionate person. I let things excite me and I’m not afraid to show emotion. I care deeply about others and the world around me. I am consumed with the beauty of life, and every experience to me is worthwhile. I am full of happiness and energy, and I’d like to think it shows.

Wow! I so want to be you when I grow up. I’ve always had this little bit of envy come over me when I watch you. You are so insanely comfortable being who you are. It’s taken me 41 years to get even a snatch of that. BTW-hats off to your parents for nurturing that in you. 

So, first tell me what the best role is you’ve played and what your dream role would be. 
And for the record, I believe you will chase down everyone of your dreams and perhaps a few more. (((hugs)))

Aw, thanks Kim! 

The best role I played would be Smitty in Play On!  

Kristin as Smitty

It’s a show about a theatre getting ready to present a show where nothing is going right. Smitty is a ditzy student who plays the British maid, Doris, in the play within the play. It was a comedic role because Smitty, like everyone else in the show, gets progressively worse at her part at the show continues. I worked with a great cast, all very supportive and talented people. Switching between the two different characters was fast paced and crazy, but it was the most fun I have ever had in a role.

My dream role would be either Mrs. Lovett of Sweeney Todd or Velma Kelly of Chicago. Both roles have a slightly maniacal side to them, Mrs. Lovett because of her unrequited love for Sweeney and Velma because of her crimes. I’d like Mrs Lovett because she has beautiful vocal parts, and I would also love to portray her forlorn affections. Velma Kelly would be great because I would be able to incorporate dance into the role, and she’s kind of obnoxious, so I’d like to try something like that.

I really want to see you act now!!!!  I know this is an interview, but you’ve got me so inspired–I have a million questions to ask. Favorite book of all time? What author would you kill to meet? And lastly, what do authors writing YA today get wrong? What should we know about that we are missing?

My favorite book of all time is I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. It’s the story of a failure of a young man who is chosen to be an anonymous caregiver to people in his town, some who he has never met, and some who he is very close to. It’s a beautiful story, and the writing style is one that I find positively captivating. Meeting Markus Zusak would be spectacular.

I feel that YA authors often stereotype teens as wanting to leave their lives and never return. The characters often feel no need to return to family to check up or help out, especially parents. They’re shown as attempting to forget everything by using drugs and alcohol. I think kids are most commonly portrayed as rebels when they should be seen as people trying to learn about themselves and where they fit into the grand scheme of things.

Ooooo I haven’t read that one, but it’s going one my list ASAP! As for the rest, I sort of believe that some people run away to get to a better place and some people run away from making a better place. Sometimes I think it’s hard to know which category we fall in at any time. I know that I learned a lot as person from watching my parents step up and take care of their parents. That is how I knew who to be when my dad got sick and died. 

Speaking of my Dad, he played by ear. Put himself through college playing the accordion. I know that my writing has given me a voice for the first time. What does music do for you? 

Music is a way for me to create something, something I can pour my emotions into. If I want to express pain, or beauty, or simplicity, there is a way to do it with my own personal touches. It is also a pleasure to be able to play songs people know and to have everyone sing along while you support their voices with the instrument. It’s a great feeling, and I love being a part of those moments.

You have such an affinity for the arts across the board, I feel compelled to ask. In today’s day and age where the focus in school seems to be testing and budget cuts seem to take more and more from the all areas of the arts, I was wondering if teens are feeling the impact? How do you feel this effects the lives of teenagers?
Of course teens are feeling the impact. Many of them find solace in joining clubs and sports teams that they feel they contribute to, and sometimes, these clubs can be their only motivation to keep coming to classes. Arts are the first thing to go, because most scholarships come from the athletics department. Teens who don’t excel in school or in sports (which is, I would say, a majority) will likely lose interest in school if the Art Club or Drama Club is cut. Each student is different, and I believe that all clubs should be kept throughout budget cuts. Funding for such activities could come from students themselves, because if they’re dedicated, of course they’ll contribute.
I also believe that learning should not be all bookwork, but also experience. If teachers and parents want their students to be well rounded and fit for the “real world”, sports and art programs should always be available and encouraged.

I couldn’t agree more.  And by the way, I love this last picture of you.  It’s like we get a sneak peek into the real you.  Kristin, thank you so much for being interviewed.  I’m so lucky to know you and I hope college is everything you hoped it would be.  I’m looking forward to seeing everything beautiful that you’re going to add to the world. 

I’ve never done this before on a Teen Seen interview, but I’d like to add something new–please feel free to leave Kristin a comment–in fact I encourage it.  I think it’s important that we support the amazing young adults who are brave enough to be seen.

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Teen Seen-Brittany

Filed under: Uncategorized

For awhile now, I’ve wanted to start doing teen interviews.  I’ve had the urge to do this for a couple reasons. The first is that I’m fortunate enough to know some very amazing teens and they always astound me.  The more I learn about them–the more I want to learn.  In fact, I’m usually so impressed, I want to share them with the rest of the world.  

There is a second reason I decided to do this kind of an interview–I write for teens and I’m friends with a whole bunch of folks who do the same thing. *grin*  I know for a fact that they’re always looking for ways to get into the heads of young adults.  As YA writers, we always want to know teenagers as readers, but we also want to dissect them and use their parts in our writing. I mean this in a completely non-bloody, kinda nice way.

I hope you love what can happen when a teen can be seen…

Brittany is a little bit unusual in that she is going to remain incognito while she is being “seen.” LOL!  I’ll explain why–Brittany is a 13 year old blogger and aspiring author who doesn’t have any pictures of herself on the internet yet.  (Smart girl)  She’s staying anonymous until she’s a little older, but has assured me that she is not a creepy old man in a basement somewhere, pretending to be a teenage girl.  Phew!  Brittany and I got to know each other when she did a wonderful interview on her blog, Hills and Corkscrews, about my friend and agency sistah Monica BW.  She intrigued me right from the start and I know she’s going to capture your attention too.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a 13-year-old writer who loves blogging and reading (and writing of course). I’m a big reader of MG and YA fiction, mostly fantasy and mysteries, but whatever I else I can find. I write mostly the same kind of novels that I read. I’m a pretty good procrastinator but I love participating in NaNo WriMo. I’m a dog person, a bit nerdy, and I have a newfound love of Doctor Who. 🙂

I know this is question over load, but I can’t help myself.  How did you get into to blogging?  Was it hard to get started?  Do people take you seriously as a 13 year old?   I personally find teen bloggers fascinating but I was wondering what your perspective has been?

I got into blogging when I followed Paperback Writer (the first blog I followed), and I eventually made a Blogger account. It was a bit hard to get started, since I had to find my blogging voice (which I’m still working on), and since I didn’t have many readers. 

When I first started out I didn’t say how old I was. No one suspected that I was younger (as far as I know). I can’t really remember why I didn’t say my age, but eventually, I decided to in this blog post in August 2010. I felt a lot better afterwards, and it gave my blog sort of a uniqueness, since I was talking from a teenage perspective.

So I think people took me seriously because I’d already established myself as a mature, determined writer, before I told them how old I was. I know there are some writers who don’t take teen writers/bloggers seriously for a bunch of different reasons (like no life experience, or too young to handle the publishing business), but I don’t think people should consider teenagers as one big group. We’re all individuals, with different experiences and personalities, and I’ve noticed that most teen bloggers and writers are very mature and smart compared to average teens.

Hmmm, my perspective. I’ve noticed that adult writers are sometimes a bit nicer to teen bloggers (which is nice!). 🙂 I’ve done a few interviews with other writers on my blog and they’ve always been really nice to me. I don’t think being a teen blogger necessarily gets you more followers or anything. You still have to work like adult bloggers, maybe even a little harder.

Can you tell me a little bit about your own writing?  Do you have a WIP?  Have you ever submitted?  Do you have a plan for your writing?
I’ve written four novels, some short stories, and lots of beginnings of novels. I’ve been taking a sort of writing vacation (yeah, I’m just being really lazy) since NaNo WriMo, but I’m about to start revising a novel that I wrote last summer, so that’s my WiP. I’m also working on a couple short stories to submit to contests. Two of my novels were written during NaNo WriMo and the fourth (my first novel) was written during a NaNo spin-off in January.

I haven’t submitted yet, and I plan on writing a lot more for at least a few more years until I try to get an agent. I need a lot more practice before my writing is publishable, so that’s what my plan is. 

Wow–when I was your age I wanted to be a writer, but I never had the courage to pursue it the way you are at such a young age.  Is it helpful, l that through technology, authors are so much more accessible than they used to be?  I was also wondering if you let your friends read/critique your writing? Do your teachers mentor you?   Or do you have a different method for getting feedback and improving your craft?
It’s very helpful that authors are more accessible. I’ve read lots of author blogs and they’re very inspirational and have some great advice. My friends don’t know that I write except a few of them and they haven’t read anything except what I’ve written for school. Some of my old teachers knew that I wrote because when I got a story published in a magazine my mom sent them all copies. 🙂 I guess I don’t have any real-life mentors or beta readers yet (and I don’t really trust my family to give good feedback). I used to be active on writing forums and post my work there but I’ve taken a break from that for now. When I need beta readers or critique partners I’m planning on joining Absolute Write and asking for beta readers there and asking for beta readers through my blog. 

As for improving my craft, I try to read as much as I can, and I read a lot of tips about writing on the internet, in books about writing, and on other websites. I also realized that when I was active on writing forums and critiquing a lot, critiquing someone else’s writing really helped improve mine the next time I wrote.

I’m going to take a moment and pick my jaw up off the floor.  I can’t believe how put together you are at your age and how much of a goober I still am at mine.  So what do you do outside the world of writing, reading and blogging?  Please don’t tell me you’re close to discovering a cure for cancer too!!!!  :o)
Haha, it’s all right. I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing half the time! 🙂 No, I’m not discovering cures for cancer, just doing normal stuff. I’m not especially athletic but I like tennis, basketball, biking, and softball. Obviously since I’m a writer, I’m more of an artsy person than anything else. I love drawing even though I’m not so great at it, and I’m a big movie person. I don’t watch much TV but I’ve recently become a Doctor Who fan. I also play piano and I’m pretty busy during the school year with some extra-curricular activities. (As for school, I don’t really like middle school very much but I only have one year left!) 
Sorry about middle school.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it gets better for you.  There is a lot of conversation on the airways right now about the Wall Street Journal article about Darkness in YA literature and the concept of  #YAsaves.  I was wondering if you had any thoughts on this.   I also like to ask my teen seen interviewees what us writers are getting wrong.  Any thing we’re really missing or way off base on?
I hadn’t actually heard of the WSJ article until you mentioned it, so I googled it and yes, I have been hearing about the issue a lot, especially on agent and author blogs. 

I’m sure there are a lot of people who are better at giving their side than I am, but I think that the whole idea of parents and librarians trying to protect teens from all these “dark” YA novels is kind of silly. I know I’m only in middle school, but I’ve heard things at school that are a lot worse than what I’ve read in YA. I don’t think the problem is YA fiction, but I also don’t think that including dark themes in your novel for the sake of being “edgy” is any good.

Anyway, my point is that in good YA, a lot of the dark themes (for example, the book Wintergirls, which deals with anorexia and self-injury) are realistic. Girls do become anorexic. Some of them die. It happens. The point of books like these isn’t to be edgy, it’s to show how certain things can affect your life (like anorexia). I think books like these can change lives. They mean a lot to people who are struggling with these issues, people who can identify with the main character.

I don’t think YA should all be clean and PG, as if things like this don’t happen. In the real world, dark(er) things happen, and that’s what some YA novels try to show. That’s all. (This is getting so long I could turn it into a blog post. Anyway.)

Onto your second question: I think there’s a lot of female main characters with one or two best friends that she’s known since kindergarten, and they’re all super-close like sisters and everything. Not everyone has just one or two friends, and I’d like to see some more variety. Also, I think teens are sometimes portrayed as a lot meaner than we actually are. 🙂

I love your answer!!!!!  I also agree with you–there are some mean kids out there, but there are some really amazing ones out there too.  Slice of life.  
Wondering if you have a special writer that you look up to? Someone that would turn you into a blubbering fan-girl if you ever met them face to face.  And why are they so amazing to you, so influential?

I have lots of writers I’d love to meet, but two people in particular would turn me into a blubbering fan-girl if I ever met them: John and Hank Green. Hank isn’t a writer but John is. They have a popular YouTube channel called the vlogbrothers, and I highly recommend that everyone check them out.

John and Hank started a project called Brotherhood 2.0 in 2007 and over time developed a community called nerdfighteria: a community of people who are nerds and proud of it.

John and Hank are amazing and influential to me because… well, for lots of reasons. They’re proud of who they are, they’re entertaining, intelligent, funny, and genuinely good people. I admire them very much and I’d LOVE to meet them.

The good thing is that it’s possible to meet them, unlike someone like J.K Rowling. John’s latest book is coming out somewhere around May next year and I think they said in one of their videos that they’ll be doing some kind of tour around then, so I’m excited.

LOVE John Green and heard wonderful things about him and the Nerdfighters.  An Abundance of Katherines is on of my favorite books evah!  So last question–tell one last thing we don’t know about you…

Hmmm, something you don’t know about me. I have a fear of heights. I don’t like roller coasters or standing at the top floors of skyscrapers and looking down. I’m trying to overcome my fear, slowly. 🙂
Brittany, I look forward to watching all the places you go in the future.  I have a feeling you’re going to be on top.  Thank you so much for letting us get to know you better.  If you want to find out more about Brittany and her writing, check out her wonderful blog Hills and Corkscrews.





Teen Seen – Amy Miccio

Filed under: Uncategorized

For awhile now, I’ve wanted to start doing teen interviews.  I’ve had the urge to do this for a couple reasons. The first is that I’m fortunate enough to know some very amazing teens and they always astound me.  The more I learn about them–the more I want to learn.  In fact, I’m usually so impressed, I want to share them with the rest of the world.  

There is a second reason I decided to do this kind of an interview–I write for teens and I’m friends with a whole bunch of folks who do the same thing. *grin*  I know for a fact that they’re always looking for ways to get into the heads of young adults.  As YA writers, we always want to know teenagers as readers, but we also want to dissect them and use their parts in our writing. I mean this in a completely non-bloody, kinda nice way.

I hope you love what can happen when a teen can be seen…

This is my awesome babysitter, Amy Miccio!!!!  Feel free to give her a round of applause.  Amy makes it possible for me to go to dance class (Workshop) every week AND my boys cheer when they know she’s coming over.  But Amy is so much more–here let me show you…

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself to get us started?

Well, my name is Amy Blair Miccio. I am 18 years old and I go to Dutchess Community College. I am a Liberal Arts major. Next year I would like to gear my studies toward photography and media arts. In high school I took a photo and media arts class and fell in love with the subject. In Dutchess I’ve taken photojournalism and currently take a digital photo class. I’ve applied to SUNY Purchase to transfer next year and continue in Liberal Arts.

***Spoiler Alert***  Amy will be attending Purchase in the fall and she was kind enough to have an awesome older sister willing to fill in with the boys.  Congrats!!!!!!   ***Back to our regularly scheduled programming***

Although I love art classes, I’m really not sure of what I want to pursue. Maybe photography will just be my hobby that I can take with me anywhere I go and I like having that option. I used to attend Yanarella School of dance from ages 3 to 18 and its been a huge part of my life. I don’t dance anymore though, instead I babysit every Tuesday for the WONDERFUL Kim Sabatini who is definitely an inspiration to me. (and no she did not make me say that!!)


Something else that I feel is an important part of who I am is my parents recent divorce. They separated two years ago and even though I was devastated at the time, its made me grow dramatically and I’ve learned so much about myself. Its made me a stronger person in every way possible. My incredible friends have also been a huge support system and I’m grateful to have such genuine people in my life. Other than that, I’m just a simple girl trying to find my place and trying to have fun while doing it.

Photography by Amy Miccio-This was a project I did just for fun. I wanted to see if I could capture extreme emotions and this one came out the best. I like taking really intense pictures.

I kind of went off track but i hope this is what you were looking for.

It is so perfect I can’t stand it. *heart squish*–Thank you for being so sweet. I LOVE our talks on Tuesday nights.
I’m privy to seeing a ton of your gorgeous photography. Can you tell me more about it? I’d love to know what you like to take pictures of and what it means to you. Do you share your work? Oh and digital vs. film-do you have a preference?

I would love to share my pictures with you! I love getting feedback. Especially negative comments. I find that the positive comments inspire me and make me believe I am working in the right direction, but the negative feedback makes me take a step back and really look at all of my work. It helps me recognize my style and my artistic intent and maybe change something that I hadn’t realized before. But if I find that someone negatively comments on a picture that I truly love and believe in, I ignore it only because art doesn’t have any guidelines. Its all about what you feel and that is why I love it. After I stopped dancing I found it really hard to express myself and let out my passions, angers, etc. When I started photo classes I realized that I could still show my feelings through a picture. A photo has no limits which frightens me as well as it motivates me. 
Ever since I did a mentor program in Garrison with a woman named Mary Ann Glass, who has a studio in Beacon, I carry around a portfolio with me in my car in case anyone ever wants to see my work. Its always good to have in case you get an opportunity to show somebody important. Or to just brag to your friends! So yes, I show my work occasionally. Its hard for me to take pictures of subjects like a bench or a fruit basket or anything material. I love taking portraits. I love the expressions people make and their body language and the shadows that the body makes. It’s really intriguing to me. With my mentor I just mentioned, I worked on a semi nude shoot. It was very classy and straight forward. I love the idea of unmasking a person and capturing them at their most vulnerable moments. Film vs. digital? I really love both. If I had to choose it would be digital only because its something you can see right away and fix in an instant. It must just be with the times, digital is how you do business mainly and it has more of a set career than film does. Although, I love the idea of film. Being in a darkroom for hours just to get a picture just right. When you create a print with film, it feels more like art. Its a process you have to go through to get your artwork just right. Its just that sometimes it can be a very long process, as well as expensive. And being a broke college student, I choose the cheaper version.

Photography by Amy Miccio 

I LOVE what you said about art not having any guidelines…it gave me chills. It’s all about balance in the end. Because you are my AWESOME babysitter, I have a little bit of insight into your life. I know that last minute, last year, your college plans changed. This had a big impact on you.   Other teens have mentioned that they’d like to see more books that talk about going to college and deciding who you are. What kind of experience was it for you? What was great about it and what was hard? What would you do different–or would you not change a thing?

My experience with college was definitely not a joy ride. My friends started looking at colleges in 11th grade, which is when my parents separated, and by my senior year, I only knew about the colleges that my older friends were going to. I still had no idea what I wanted to do after high school. The main problem was, my parents let me be so free about my education that it was almost too free. Mainly because they were too worried about their marriage dying, which I totally understand. I was starting to mimic my sister since she never looked at schools either and dropped out of Dutchess Community College after her first semester.

***Spoiler Alert*** Awesome sister is back in school and well on her way to rocking this world!!!  ***Back to our regularly scheduled programming***

A big part of my confusion was having to deal with the divorce and all the stress that came with that. I wanted to hold on to what was left of my childhood. I was terrified of more change. Instead, I procrastinated and ended up only applying to FIT where I got put on the waiting list and then denied. But I honestly think that DCC was the best thing that ever happened to me. Yes, I dread going everyday and the classes aren’t exactly fun, and living at home isn’t what I had in mind, but I’ve learned so much about myself in these two semesters than some people have learned in their entire life. My independence is incredible, even to me, and I know who I am now and can accept myself, most of the time. So it didn’t matter where I went to college, I still learned about who I was and in a sense I actually found myself.

There was one friend I had in particular that was staying home and not going to school during my first semester who inspired me to follow my dreams no matter what it took. He made me realize that I wasn’t supposed to worry about my parents or anyone else besides myself, and it was okay to be a little selfish. Thats when I decided to apply to more schools and follow through with my plans. I started focusing only on myself and wound up moving out of my mom’s house into my dad’s only because I knew that I would have more independence there. The story of my parents is a long one that has a lot to do with my current life so its hard to understand everything I’m going through, but it affected almost every aspect of my life for the past 2 years. That was probably the hardest part about going to a community college, living at home and still dealing with the divorce. I wouldn’t change a thing though. I learned who my real friends were and made new ones as well. I feel as if I am stronger now than I have ever been. I think that if I had just went off to a school I would have been okay, but I wouldn’t be as strong and confident as I am now. Telling this whole story now it seems so complicated and confusing, which it was, but I really wouldn’t change a thing.
There is a quote that I found soon after my parents separation that stated, “Sometimes we need to get lost to find ourselves.” I would always say it in my head just to re-assure myself that it was okay that I was so lost about everything. Now I think that its such a perfect quote because in all of that confusion and chaos, I truly found out who I was and I know I keep saying it but I’m just really proud of that fact.

Photography by Amy Miccio

Have I told you that I love you…really really love you? I do. ((((hugs)))) It is so hard to grow up. I know-I’m still trying to figure out how to do it correctly. We’ll figure it out eventually.
I love that quote. Do you like to read? If yes, what and if no…what might make you want to pick up a book?

I love you too!
I do like to read but I don’t read as much as I would like. Mostly because I have a hard time staying interested or I’ll start reading a story, stop in the middle, and months will go by and I won’t remember what the story was about. I do like to read James Patterson’s books such as Sam’s letters to Jennifer and Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas. I also like Nicholas Sparks books. I guess I’m more into love stories. What might make me want to pick up a book? That’s a really good question. The reason I read those books was because school required summer reading. I am actually very guilty of judging a book by its cover. Since I’m an aspiring photographer, if I see a book with a really interesting picture, I’ll read it. If the cover is too overdone or too plain I won’t even take a second look. I guess that’s not really a great method, but that’s just how I do it.

Photography by Amy Miccio-this was for my Color Photography class I took this semester. We had to make a book and pick a topic and mine was shapes of the body. 

I’ll admit it…I can fall in love or get very turned off by a cover. If the buzz for the book is good, I can get past it, but if I don’t have any any other strong factors to sway me…the cover will do it. Hmmm maybe a future career in cover art for you??? Out of all your pictures, are there any that feel like a YA Book cover to you?

That would be awesome!!

I guess that this picture could be an interesting book cover. I think that most of these pictures could be used as a cover but I also think that an author always has a picture in mind for their book and Book Cover Photography is an art in its own. There are certain things that should and should not be in the picture. I think that simplicity is key when it comes to book covers. So looking at my pictures its hard to tell which ones could be put on a book.

One of the things I like to ask is if you think teens are misrepresented by authors and adults in general? What are they not understanding about who you are as a person and as a reader?

I think that authors and adults, most of the time, see us as very one sided. The girls and boys who want to fall in love or want to become something that seems impossible. You don’t normally see a story about the confusion a young adult goes through and their perspective on life. These days I think its a lot more complicated for us teens to really understand everything thats going on. We are exposed to so much now that teens in the past wouldn’t be exposed to for another few years. We have to figure out our lives earlier and faster and its really hard for some of us. We don’t necessarily want to see so many stories about getting a happy ending when we know that not all of us get one. Maybe we just want to see that its possible to get through our hardships without falling apart completely.

Photography by Amy Miccio-this is one of my favorite pictures that I have ever taken. This was for a photojournalism project I did in the Fall semester. I did a “picture story” on the Yanarella Recital. I’ve gotten nothing but good feedback from this picture and i”m really proud of it.

That is an amazing answer. I think a lot of adults think that kids want the happy ever after books, but sometimes they need a gritty read.  What I love about YA books is that they can be hard, but still leave you with hope. 

Amy, thank you so much for letting me interview you, for being a super sitter and an amazing friend. I know everyone is going to love you just as much as I do.  You can find Amy on Facebook and Twitter and in my living room.  :o)





Teen Seen – Juliane Pettorossi

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For awhile now, I’ve wanted to start doing teen interviews.  I’ve had the urge to do this for a couple reasons. The first is that I’m fortunate enough to know some very amazing teens and they always astound me.  The more I learn about them–the more I want to learn.  In fact, I’m usually so impressed, I want to share them with the rest of the world.  

There is a second reason I decided to do this kind of an interview–I write for teens and I’m friends with a whole bunch of folks who do the same thing. *grin*  I know for a fact that they’re always looking for ways to get into the heads of young adults.  As YA writers, we always want to know teenagers as readers, but we also want to dissect them and use their parts in our writing. I mean this in a completely non-bloody, kinda nice way.

I hope you love what can happen when a teen can be seen…


Just like Taylor, our first Teen Seen, I also dance with Juliane.  She’s amazing and I LOVE to watch her tell a story as she moves across the floor.  She’s interesting, passionate and funny, but you’ll figure that out in just a moment…

Hi Kim!! Well my name is Juliane and I’ve lived here in Beacon my whole life. I grew up with the two best parents imaginable, my older sister and of course, my two pets. (I’m a huge animal lover!!) I’m seventeen years old and cannot wait to finally make my transformation into adulthood on June 20th. I’m a senior and am still hearing back from multiple colleges to date, but Manhattanville as of now remains my top choice for admission this fall where I will study communications in art/media/journalism.

If I were to describe myself, I would depict me as an "artsy" individual. My #1 interest, of course, is dance. I have been dancing at Yanarella for about 15 years now and plan to until the day I leave for college. Through all these years of studying classes such as ballet, jazz, modern, tap and hip hop, I have found it to truly be my top priority and passion. I used to be the kid who played every sport imaginable and was actually good at them, until I recently came to the conclusion that they did not fulfill me as performing did. There is nothing more I love than to be on a stage in front of a crowd, and hope to further pursue this love in some way, some how.

*Juliane in the role of Elphaba in the Yanrella School of Dance 2010 Recital
Choreographed by Mary Ritter
Photo Credit-Amy Miccio

Besides dance, I also love to write. I have been writing since as long as I could remember. Poems, stories, limericks, scenes, anything! I am hoping that my college life will consist of many oral presentations and news reporting through the journalism side of my major. I was always the creatve type, along with playing and taking lessons for piano for 12 years, painting, and also photography.

I had started a blog before to get some of my ideas and writings out of my head and onto a site for others to see, but have recently decided to detatch from it. Luckily though, I have had the opportunity to be inspired by the right people to stick with my aspirations and never give up on something I love, which always gives me hope that one day I could make a difference in this big world!

*Since we started this interview Juliane decided to give blogging another shot.  I’m so excited she believes in Second Chances.

Wow-I love these interviews. I thought I knew how talented you are and then poof-you sneak in a half dozen miscellaneous talents that I knew nothing about. LOL!

Congrats on Manhattanville. I remember those days, torn between soaking up every minute of being a senior and wanting desperately to reinvent myself. It’s an exciting time.

This is a weird question, but what do you want to change about yourself when you start over? What do you hope never changes?

I actually really love this question. This time where I get to leave these years behind and start all over is really important to me. Reinvent is the perfect word! There are some characteristics about me that I would surely change in a heartbeat, but luckily, many more that I wouldn’t. I hope to be a more demading person. I tend to let anyone say just about anything to me and have a hard time standing up for myself. I will do anything to avoid confrentation or any sort of argument. I like to be content with everyone, but I really wish to find myself stronger in that area. Let’s see.. I will NOT procrastinate!! (I say that now..) Sometimes I will admit, I wait until the last second to get work done. I hope that I will become a little more responsible in that as well. 
However, I can’t complain about who I am today. All of my choices and how I carry myself have shaped me into someone that I am actually proud of. I’m a little different than most teenagers in the sense of never going to parties, doing what the "stereotypical teen" does. Like I’ve said, dinner and some good conversation is the perfect night for me. I am independent and I know that trait will stay with me. I am also very determined and will not give up until I achieve my goals and ambitions. That is very important to me, and I hope these morals that I so strongly believe in never change.

LOL!  I have a few of those good and bad traits myself.  You’ve said you like to write…  I stopped writing when I was about your age because I was hyper aware of how vulnerable my words made me to other people. I didn’t have the internal fortitude to stand behind those thoughts. It took me a long time to gather that much courage, but it would be safe to say that it has saved my soul. When I didn’t write I repressed my voice and you can only push that stuff down so long before it starts to turn sour. Why do you write? What does it do for you? What happens when you don’t write? What is the best thing you’ve ever written? What do you want to write–have to write?  

Why do I write? Probably the same reason most people do. Expression. What better way to portray your thoughts than to get them down on paper in a creative and meaningful way? Writing is personalized. Each person has their own style, their own rhythem. That’s why I have loved it ever since I started way back in elementary school. It was the rarest, truest form of me and I loved every aspect of that.
However, I don’t really know where it all started. I have all these notebooks FILLED with stories, poems and song lyrics from when I was in my early childhood, and it really makes me wonder how I was thinking like that at such a young age. Some of the things I wrote were so meaningful and had such a deep message. Since I was so young, I know that all those ideas came straight from my head. It’s strange to think about!
I feel as if I have millions of ideas, every day. I compare and contrast certain things in my head and make connections that I am dieing to write about. No matter where, I usually always write them down. Whether it’s just small notes or turned into a story, I’ll post it somewhere even to use for later use. As for best thing I’ve ever written? It’s hard to say. I would say that my best work shines through my poetry. A lot of things I have written stay with me and are personal, but I hope to keep exposing them and someday become noticed. 
When I was younger, I loved one author, Jack Prelutsky. He’s a children’s poet and I had almost all of his books. I loved the way he flowed from line to line and how he put a surprising twist of irony at the end of each poem. One dream of mine has always been to publish a children’s poetry book. I find that although I do love deep poetry that doesn’t necessarily rhyme and makes you think, I also have thousands of more ideas for those quirky poems that make the reader laugh. That’s one thing I have to do, because I know that it is a possibility for me! 

Any chance we can see a sample of that poetry?
Well, this was my poem for Mary…

*Mary Ritter is our dance instructor, friend and inspiration.  She’s currently battling breast cancer and teaching us all about The Experience of a Lifetime…

Who am I to initiate 
To tell of a monster; a fall in fate
The whisper of sweet serenity
Pulled back so quick; but then we see,
The rise in lust for words of hope
Infatuations of grieve and mope
Should soon be swept away by choice,
That lures us in to pure rejoice.

My luck in life compared to most,
I don‘t believe; I can not host,
For I believed we made our own
To determine the lives we’d always known.
But a recent twist has circled the thought
A twist in life and all distraught
For a wave that crashes the flesh of many
Could not affect, you out of any.

Hearing one small thing can change your eyes
And how they view what the world defies
These obstacles we can’t escape
Can see right through our glass shined cape
To me, you are just that much stronger,
Your will to fight will survive much longer,
You’re a bulb just lit and will always shine,
For a keen remedy, you are next in line.

Just a chapter in life; a new story told,
Of a person whos book shall always be sold,
Inspiration has grew to a sturdy new level,
Nothing could destroy; dismantle; dishevel.
For the person I’ve grown to know and admire,
Will battle the monster way down to the wire,
For all we have done and all left to say,
She stays in my heart; and there she will stay.

*Mary Ritter and Juliane Pettorossi

That is beautiful…thank you for sharing it. *heart squish*

Writer’s love to read. It’s fun and it helps us to be a better writer. What are you reading?

Reading? To be honest, I am not as interested in reading as I am in writing. Currently I am not reading anything, but have finished a few books so far this school year. However, I do love authors like Mitch Albom, Sparks, Lowry, and Nicole Krauss, who write stories with strong moral messages that can relate to situations I may have faced. I’m hoping to explore the world of reading more this summer and expand my knowledge of it.

Hmmmm I’ve got some good ones…we’ll talk. *grin*

I was wondering if you could tell me what you think the biggest misconception about your generation is today? 
I was also wondering if you either loved or hated anything in particular about how young adults are portrayed in fiction?

I think the biggest misconception of our reality is a mix between three things: Money, technology, and selfishness. I believe everyone now-a-days is over obsessed with worrying how much money they have to spend and how expensive everything is, when in actuality isn’t what brings us happiness in the end. Of course, we all like to have it in our back pocket, but I think too many people depend on money to fulfill their emotions that it simply cannot buy. I think that technology is a huge misconception because of how dependent we all are on it. If it weren’t for todays electronics such as cell phones, computers, cameras, gps’s, T.Vs, ipods, etc., I don’t think people would be able to normally live their lives! Even now with the increasing technology in necessities such as cars.. it is completely taking over our generation. Lastly, I think the majority of people out there believe in only doing things for themselves. People are more selfish than ever, and the want to help someone else is slowly diminishing. There’s no better feeling than giving someone a gift and feeling how thankful and appreciative they are!
It’s true; I do believe that in fiction, young adults are generally sterotyped. Not everyone at particular ages technically do the same things or think the same thoughts. Most fiction books I’ve read that include the actions of young adults always carry the same themes. The "general" actions of young adults are probably portrayed in a lot of these books because the author may feel that the reader can relate to them more, but I think they should broaden their ideas and find new issues for their plot that allow the public to realize that teens are something other than a typical stereotype.

Well said and I love it! It’s such a good feeling to know that there are young adults in the world who think much and feel deeply. *heart squish* 
What would make you pick up a YA book and read? Any topic in particular, or type of character that would make you say Hmmmmm?

For specifics when novels deal with teenage stereotypes, I think themes such as drugs, dating, sexuality, sex, partying, cliques, bullying, etc. are often emphasized. Some even go as far as to have the All Star football player and cheerleader as two main characters.. even though in most schools, couples like that barely even exist or aren’t a big deal. Although I have not seen much bullying in our school hallways lately, I know it still exists- more so on the internet. This is what kids undergo in today’s world, as opposed to, say ten years ago. It’s time to update!
I definitley tend to pick up books that have somewhat of a dark side. For some reason I often find myself picking up novels about the Holocaust and how people lived during that time. Besides that, I love stories that are about crimes and mysterys with a lot of forshadowing that leads to an ironic ending. Also, I like novels that tell the stories of a few peoples lives, and how they are all tied together through a certain event. Suspicion! For young adults like me, I always love to finish a book that leaves me with a good message. I like to learn morals and quotes through the things I read and even though many people my age might find that "boring," I certainly do not. (Tuesdays With Morrie.. always a favorite of that kind!)
Thank you SO MUCH Kim!! I appreciate you asking me to be a part of this! 

I loved interviewing you and sharing you with the world.  Don’t forget you can find Juliane on her blog…Second Chances. See you at dance on Tuesday.  *grin* 


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