Is Landry a tween/teen version of you?
No, but we share a lot of similarities (we both hate math, look bad in navy blue, and have dealt with frenemies), but she has her own personality. She’s a bit more introverted than me, too. We both like soaps and had soap star crushes (my first was on Thom Bierdz from The Young and the Restless and I also had one on the guy I picked for Landry’s dad…check my Pinterest page), we’ve both modeled, and liked some of the same things. People say they can “hear me” when they read the book. I don’t think of Landry as a little sister, or a cousin, or even as my kid. She’s more like the person I want to protect from the world, but at the same time I completely see where she’s coming from.
One more similarity we have— we both hated gym in grade school, however in ninth grade my gym class shared the gym with the junior and senior basketball class…suddenly gym class was my fave. Also, at her age, I was already planning my wedding to George Michael. Lucky for me, I had backup crushes…
What were your favorite books when you were in school?
I loved all the teen/tween series books. I loved the Sweet Valley books (there were more than one series of those: twins, high school, university), the Baby-sitters Club, literally any series that was out at that time, I probably read it.
Have you had issues with frenemies yourself?
Sure have—and still do! As a kid and teen, you internalize so much and wonder what you might have done wrong, but as you get older, you start to realize a lot of it has to do with the people who are treating you badly and that it might be a reflection on them and what they are going on in their life. That’s not to say we shouldn’t stop and see if we did do something to cause the reaction, just keep in mind that real friends don’t try to tear each other down, but support one another. It’s normal to get a little jealous, but to belittle someone’s dream or goals just because you don’t want them to get ahead of you (like Landry getting picked for the next round in the American Ingénue competition), isn’t cool.
Did you ever have your friends turn against you like Landry did?
Sure, not in high school, but when I was younger. Once it happened during a time my grandparents happened to be visiting. I never brought it up to my family (like I said, I internalized a lot back then), but it distracted me from enjoying my time with my grandma and grandpa. My grandma passed away less than two years later. I really regretted not being able to put all that mess aside and really focus on their visit—that’s time I can’t get back. So in the sequel to the book, I have a new friend of Landry’s tell her about going through that very same thing.
What did you do when you found out True Colors had been accepted for publication?
The day I got the contract, there was a bad snowstorm in the area and my husband was stuck at work for hours. He had to help with snow removal in the parking lot, so I couldn’t even reach him on his cell phone and my parents weren’t home either. I wanted them to be the first to hear, so I sat on the news and decorated my Christmas tree until I got in touch with them. I was all anxious and I broke an ornament, too!
What do people not realize about being a writer?
How much work it is and how you really have to love writing and all that this career will entail to pursue it.
Do you have any advice for writers?
Take literature classes and read at least 100 books in your genre before you begin. Also, take creative writing classes to get feedback and critiques. Going to workshops is great and getting into a critique group is a must. If you want to get published then you need to go to conferences to learn about the business and read about it as well. You have to build a foundation before you can begin—it’s a business like any other and you have to find a way to deal with that without letting it impact the art side of it in a negative way. It’s a tricky balance and a learning experience.
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. TRUE COLORS is her bestselling debut novel 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. She received her master’s in American Culture from the University of Michigan-Flint.
Top 10 Facts About “True Colors”
- The idea for the story came about originally when I was in the sixth grade. I used to read those YA and middle grade novels about those groups of girls who had the perfect close-knit relationships—the whole best friend forever thing personified. I was in grade school and I saw the cover of the Bangles “Everything” cd and they looked like that type of clique and I wondered what they were like at thirteen/fourteen. As an adult I wrote the story to show how Landry thinks everyone else has these tight groups of friends who never get mad at one another and everything is always perfect and she wants that and hopes to find it with Devon, Peyton and India. However, reality sets it…reality is such a bummer sometimes, isn’t it?
- The older actor Devon has a crush on that the other girls make fun of her for is based on my crush on Liam Neeson.
- People ask if I had best friend necklaces/bracelets/earrings/etc. when I was growing up. Yup, with several friends. Some I’m still close with, too. The day I told my writing group about my book contract I noticed I was wearing a silver bracelet with a heart charm and it never occurred to me before how much this was like the bff bracelet in the story—or the bracelet Landry’s dad gives her. I took that as a sign and that’s why you see the broken bff heart on the cover dangling off the, “s,” in “Colors.” BTW, one of my favorite gifts is still a thoughtful bracelet from a friend.
- Landry’s last name, “Albright,” comes from Madeleine Albright. As a kid I was very aware there weren’t a lot of female role models in my social studies books. I distinctly remember being amazed as a kid seeing Benazir Bhutto in my Weekly Reader at school. So I used the name to pay tribute to a woman who broke through the glass ceiling—the first female U.S. Secretary of State.
- The designer, Franciszka T, all the girls are obsessed with got the name because my great-grandmother, two of my great-great-grandmothers, and my great-great-aunt, were all named Franciszka. I picked “T,” because the great-great-aunt used to design and make clothes (she made her sister’s wedding dress and her own bridesmaid’s dress). Her last name started with a, “T.” I also look a little bit like her—we have the same big alien eyes.
- When I first saw the possible cover models, I thought the one who ended up on the cover looked like a couple cousins of mine. I knew she was the perfect choice. Months later, the cover model found out about being on the book and contacted me. Turns out she lives in Poland and is from a town next to the city my great-grandpa was from! Crazy coincidence.
- I’m not from the city the story is set in (Grand Rapids, MI), but my parents were, so I decided to have Landry and her mom live there. I’m actually from the other side of the state—an hour north of Detroit.
- Landry’s name was originally, Sydney, but I changed it because the name was getting overused. My mom suggested the name Landry because she had a little girl in her class years ago with that name. I loved it and what’s funny is she had a student named, “Krysten,” too, and she told me that Landry and Krysten were best friends.
- I named the ice cream parlor everyone hangs out at in the story after my great-grandfather. I picture the ice cream place being in Grand Rapids, MI (where the story is set)right near where he lived when he first moved to this country. In case you’re from the area and curious, I picture it being on Diamond Avenue.
- Like Landry and Ashanti, I was a big soap opera fan. My favorite was, One Life to Live. I pictured two of the characters, Colin and Lanie, as being Landry’s parents. If you look at the cover model, she really resembles them both.
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.
Character Interview with Landry Albright from True Colors.
What’s the worst thing that’s happened in your life? What did you learn from it?
When my friends all got mad at me—first when Ericka and Tori stopped speaking to me after we all tried out for the American Ingénue reality show modeling competition and I made it to the next round and they didn’t. But I learned who my true friends were after that.
Tell me about your best friend.
I have two or three besties. Tori used to be my best friend, but after she got mad at me over that modeling thing…I just don’t trust her the same way. Ashanti Russell is one of my closest friends. We became closer after getting to know each other better. She always has my back. Peyton Urich is another of my best friends. We met when Tori and Ericka weren’t speaking to me. She’s been such an amazing friend. And Devon and I have best friend bracelets together, but…sometimes she gets a little controlling.
What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?
I was in a dance recital when I was four years old. We were supposed to be little ballerinas and have scarves attached to our tutus, but my mom was still in school at the time and she came home late and forgot to give me my scarves. So all the other little girls pulled out their scarves, and there’s a video of me looking on either side of my tutu for my scarves and then bursting into tears crying “Mommy!” as I ran off the stage. My grandmother said I was adorable, but I don’t think it was any coincidence my grandfather died two weeks later.
What is your greatest regret?
That I messed up my introduction during the American Ingénue competition. All I had to do was say, “Hi, I’m Landry Albright from Grand Rapids, Michigan,” and instead I said, “Chicago, Illinois,” my old state and when I went back to correct it, I totally slammed into the next contestant, made the microphone shriek and embarrassed myself. If I could go back in time, I’d totally choose that moment to change.
Do you ever lie?
Well, I don’t outright lie, but when my dad asks about my math grades, I do point out how awesome I’m doing in English and hope he changes the subject.
What do you like best about yourself? Least?
Best? I think I’m a nice person and a good friend. Least? My hair. I’d much rather have Devon’s dark, curly hair or Peyton’s dark red hair.
What is in your refrigerator right now?
Leftover butterscotch and vanilla pudding from the variety packs my mom and I eat all the chocolate out of.
What’s on your bedroom floor?
Dirty clothes—like my Hillcrest school uniform that makes me look like a dead goldfish, my mom’s favorite sweatshirt that I borrowed and got something blue on (when did I have fruit?), and some magazines.
What’s on your nightstand?
Magazines, YA mystery novels, gum wrappers, and my favorite lip gloss.
Imagine you’re doing intense spring cleaning. What’s easy to throw out? What is difficult to part with?
Did my mom put you up to asking this? I hate cleaning my room, but whatever. I guess the easiest stuff to throw out would be all the candy wrappers and to put my soda cans in the bin to take back for a deposit. What’s difficult to part with would be my magazines. I like to hang onto them and look at them at night before I go to bed. And I would never part with my stuffed animals—especially the blue mouse my dad got me when I was little.
If you could spend the day with someone you admire (living, dead or imaginary), who would you pick?
Talisa Milan, my favorite model who won the American Ingénue competition. She’s so busy that I doubt I could keep up with her, but I’d love to see what it’s like to be her just for one day. She hosts a video show, does makeup and hair care commercials, goes to school, and she’s dating a member of the band, The Puking Baby Dolls.
Are you upset your name is not in the title?
Not really. Krysten almost used it for the title of the sequel, but at the last minute she changed it. She told me she might use that one for the third book though.
Did your story end too soon?
I’m getting a sequel and she’s working on a third book, so I’m okay with it as long as she lets Vladi call me and stuff.
Did you and your author agree on the storyline?
Well, at first she told me I had no say in any of it, but she can’t really control what I say or do. I’m just me and she has to figure out what to do with that. She calls it, “frustrating,” but hey, I told her, “You’re the one who became a writer. What did you expect, genius?” So whatever. She’s got to deal with it.
Heart-touching Life Story and Great Read!!
When I first started reading Krysten’s book, I thought to myself that she must no everyone’s story at any given time in their life, we have all had to deal with some kind of drama, rumors, judgment, and loss of friendship and hoping to gain friendship.
This book should be read by all tween & teen girls, I believe each one would have some sort of connection to Landry. By the way, I love that name, “Landry!” Every woman worries about how they look and how other people perceive them to be; doesn’t matter if we are tweens, teens, in our twenties, middle-age or older. when we all look in the mirror, we all wonder.
And Krysten, shows this and more in her book and how we all can learn from what she has written. A great story with a great lesson and great morals.
Keep writing, Krysten!!