Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
Kristina: My daughter and her friends when they were tweens. Our house has always been the go-to place to hang out, and I’ve been privy to a lot of fun conversations! There was a time when they were all TV show fanatics and talked incessantly about celebrities. My family is also completely dog obsessed! We foster dogs for a local rescue and have three of our own. So, I combined the two and created a fun scenario that would also have a meaningful story behind it.
Another important inspiration was my work with recently immigrated children from Mexico when I lived in San Jose, California. I was a Bilingual Education teacher, and I taught my students in their native language, Spanish, instead of forcing them to learn everything in English, which was a foreign language to them. Those kids meant everything to me, and I became a part of their lives, even outside of school. One of the characters in the book, Santos, is based off one of my real-life students.
What character do you most relate to and why?
Even though I’m not like the main character Ellie in so many ways, (for example, she doesn’t cry easily, and I cry through every singing competition show on TV!) I relate to her determination to not give up on her dreams. Anyone who wants to make it in the Arts, whether as a musician, an actor, or as a writer, has to be stubborn. The odds are against making it. You have to persevere and hold on with both hands.
Why do you feel young adult books are so popular and have such a voice right now?
I heard a funny theory the other day that it’s because people don’t want to grow up anymore, and adults are only half-adults now! I know I’ve always been a Peter Pan type person myself, but in contrast to some of the threads I’ve read on Twitter lately, I’m definitely writing for teens, and not thinking about the half-adults! I write especially for that overlooked group of younger teens who have left middle grade literature behind but aren’t yet interested in some of the topics covered in older YA. I’m super happy, however, that teens and adults of all ages like my work too! I rebel against an either/or mindset. For me, there’s room for both.
Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.
Scripted, Unscripted is the story of a sixteen-year-old girl who loves working with animals behind the scenes in Hollywood, but gets cast in a TV pilot against her will and has to navigate the dog-eat-dog world in front of the camera in order to keep her job. It could be described as a romantic comedy, but it’s also about family, friendship, and finding your own way in life and being true to yourself.
My goal was to provide readers with something meaningful yet uplifting and fun, and to keep the content relatable to a wide range of ages. Whether a reader is twelve-years-old, or sixteen, or older, I want them to be entertained, and hopefully inspired.
What’s next for you in the book world?
I recently sent the final draft of my next YA novel to my awesome agent, Tess Callero, and I could not be more excited! I’m keeping the plot under wraps for the time being, but I can’t wait to share it with the world!
What’s your favorite writing method that you follow for inspiration?
One of the main reasons I love writing so much, is I get the chance to live a totally different life through my characters. My favorite method is to imagine an alternative path I could have taken when I was a teen and my life was still a blank sheet of paper, my future yet unwritten. Then I imagine what would be fun, and meaningful, and inspiring. What do I want to learn more about and experience? I can’t go back to the past and choose a different path in real life, but I can through my books. I can create a life from scratch, be and do anything. When I approach writing from that mindset, it leads to unlimited ideas.