This week on the Inheritance Books sofa, we have Krysten Hager.
Hi Krysten, welcome to Inheritance Books. Can I get you a drink? Maybe some cake? In the meantime, please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m excited to be here to today talking about my favorite subject—books! I have been a big reader all my life. My parents both loved to read and they always made sure I had plenty of reading material. There were countless trips to the bookstore, library, and also this great used bookstore in downtown Detroit called John K. King Used and Rare Books. It was an old glove factory filled with books—we’re talking four floors of books. The third floor was where you could find me wandering most often.
I knew I was going to be an English major going into college—even though all my placement tests suggested I focus on communications and journalism. I did do that, as a minor, but English literature was my first love. I got my degree in English at the University of Michigan-Flint as well as my masters there in American Culture. I did pursue journalism along with essay, humor, short story writing, as well as writing novels for tweens, teens, and adults. I am the author of the clean reads young adult series, Landry’s True Colors, which is about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, middle school and high school, frenemies, values, and self-image.
Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special? Try and talk about what the book symbolises to you/reminds you of etc.
At first this was a hard question for me to answer because my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles have all given me inspiring books that made me want to read and write. I wasn’t sure which book to choose, but the answer was staring straight at me the whole time—literally. I walked past my first Nancy Drew book at least twenty times while pacing and trying to pick just one book in my bookcase to focus on.
My Aunt Linda gave me two Nancy Drew books when I was a kid. It was my first time getting novels as opposed to easy reader chapter books. I remember opening the present and seeing that not only were these “big girl” books, but they were hard covers. The only other hard cover books I had gotten were picture books. I was from the generation of paperbacks, so a hard cover for a kid? That was a big deal. The two she gave me were: The Bungalow Mystery and The Clue of the Broken Locket. I remember not knowing what a “bungalow” was, but I didn’t want to look like a little kid asking in front of everyone, so I took my grandpa aside and asked him and he explained it to me.
I remember taking the book to school on Friday Reading Day, basically showing off with my hard cover book that was not an easy reader paperback like most of the other kids had. I cracked open the book and got caught up into the world of the broken locket. It was the kind of mystery that sucked me in and when the bell rang, I kind of had to shake myself out of the trance to get my school bag together and run out to meet the bus. I got so engrossed in the story that I remember taking it out of my bag as soon as I got home. I got comfortable on our old black leather couch in the family room and read until dinnertime and that night I finished the mystery.
Getting introduced to Nancy Drew at a young age was especially beneficial because I went to a Catholic school with a very conservative library. It wasn’t easy to find fun reads in there, but they had the full Nancy Drew collection, although none of the newer more updated Nancy Drew Files that were a bit more mature and had Nancy wearing things like a leather mini skirt or a bikini on the cover. I had to get my mother to buy those or go to the bigger public library for those. Lucky for me, our local Kmart carried those and my dad could always be talked into picking one up for me.
I still love any book that takes you inside the story and brings you into that world. I try to do that with my own YA series because those engulfing stories are the ones I responded to the most (and still do!) My love of young adult books began with Nancy Drew and is most likely why my first published books have been for young adults.
Ah, I loved Nancy Drew (and The Hardy Boys). Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?
The book I would leave to future generations isn’t a new one by any means, but I think my introduction to the book would be better than the one I was given when it was assigned to me in school. The book I would choose is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was assigned to me in both seventh grade and later in ninth grade and I must admit I didn’t get much out of it either time. If you asked me in high school what I remembered I would have said, “Green light, dock, oh and Robert Redford gives Mia Farrow the ugliest ring in the movie version.” However, years later when I heard they were remaking the movie, I went to get a copy of the book. I went with the new art deco cover and not that odd blue image cover. This time I saw what the book was really about and what Fitzgerald was trying to get across about the times and class and social structure, etc. I never realized how a book from one time period could still speak to people in other decades. The vulnerability and yearning Scott writes with makes it one of those books I can read over and over again. I must say I still don’t know why they introduce it to students so early on, but it is definitely a book that can’t be missed.
Excellent choices! Thank you for sharing your favourite books with us Krysten. Good luck with your latest book (I’ll add it to my list of clean reads that I can recommend to people).