Middle school. Are there two words in the English language that can bring out cringing more than those two? Well, maybe, “gym class”—especially gym class while in middle school. Seriously, how did I have the guts to wear shorts in middle school? There hasn’t been another time in my life when I felt more judged, more criticized, and more uneasy about myself than those middle school years.
It didn’t help that I was one of the tallest girls in my class and one of the girls who much preferred watching soap operas, reading, and daydreaming while writing little story ideas down in my notebooks. Being a creative kid has come a long way in the last few years, but let me tell you in my small town it was seen as weird. Playing sports was normal, writing and telling people you wanted to be an author when you grew up sounded weird, and I was constantly told it would be impossible. And I felt pushed to conform. To be more like the other kids. Even the music I liked was different. I was still listening to George Michael long after he had stopped putting new music out for a while. So, while the others were listening to what was new and cool, I was listening to my pop star boyfriend and writing down story ideas.
However, my preteen angst has a happy ending as those story ideas ended up into a series about a girl dating her favorite pop star and all the anxious moments that go along with it (The Cecily Taylor Series). But even more importantly is that the angsty, cringey, middle school moments that brought me to my knees also gave me story ideas. I took the characters I created in the sixth grade (Landry) and her cooler friends (Devon, Peyton, Ashanti, and India) and merged them with the real-life mean girl issues and growing pains I dealt with back then to create my first book, True Colors, which became the first book in the Landry’s True Colors Series.
All the embarrassing and difficult moments of middle school with doubting yourself, bullying, mean girls, understanding what frenemies are and how to deal with it, and crushes just all came together to create books that I hope will help readers know they are not alone in going through the same things. I also get a lot of messages from parents, aunts, and grandparents saying the topics bring up healthy discussions that get the readers to speak up about those difficult topics. I know I stayed quiet and retreated into books to help me deal with things.
Funny enough, my dad was a middle school assistant principal who I now realize was sharing his stories with me to help me through things without making it obvious. I should have known the way he brought up school dances and his own vivid memories of having shyness attacks at his own school dances.
I’m currently updating and relaunching the Landry’s True Colors Series and I can’t wait for the next group of readers to discover it. I have reading guides for each chapter and am looking forward to helping more readers feel less alone out there. To date, the Landry’s True Colors Series has won three Readers Favorite awards for best preteen books and the Dayton Book Expo Bestseller Award for children/teens. Landry in Like is also a Literary Classics Gold Medal recipient.
I hope you enjoy reading about Landry as she navigates through middle school. I’m including a photo of me back then with Sun In which gave my normally dark brown hair a lovely burnt umber look. Enjoy!
Find the Series here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09W9S664B
About the Author
Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. Her work includes YA contemporary, middle grade fiction, and adult and young adult rom-coms. She received her BA in English and master’s degree in liberal studies from the University of Michigan-Flint.
Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News and on Living Dayton.