Thursday, March 22, 2012

SBBS: Day 04 ~ Stephanie Kuehnert

Spring Break Blog Spectacular: Day 04 ~ Stephanie Kuehnert Interview

Today's guest is author Stephanie Kuehnert. Stephanie is the author of the books I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone and Ballads of Suburbia. (links to my reviews at the end). Currently, she is a staff writer for ROOKIE, an online magazine that can be found here.

Ideal spring break destination: ski chalet or tropical beach villa? Tropical beach villa for sure! I've spent too much of my life in Chicago and Wisconsin to ever want to intentionally visit a place with snow! :)

In high school/college which was more likely spotting you on MTV’s Spring Break or just you and your friends enjoying the week off? I'd just be hanging with my friends for sure.

What was your favorite Spring Break ever? Or if you didn't go on spring break trips, where did you always want to go? I have kind of a tie for this. Two very different trips. One I didn't really think of as a spring break trip, but it kind of was and it is my all time favorite trip where I'd always wanted to go. The other was spring break and was kind of disastrous, but fun and also made it's way into I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, so....
Okay, we'll start with the latter because chronologically it happened first. My freshman year of college, my best friend at school and I decided we would road-trip from southern Ohio to New Orleans. It's like a 14 hour drive so the original plan was the leave the morning of the first day of spring break, but we were so excited that we decided to leave after our last class, so we got on the road at like 4 pm and arrived at 6 am. It was not the wisest decision. My friend almost crashed my car into a semi when the cherry of her cigarette flew into the backseat and she turned to look for it. After that scare we decided to stop for coffee and were in a still very segregated part of the south. Being from Chicago and Baltimore, we didn't think anything of it when everyone at the gas station plus diner we pulled into was African American and they were very nice to us, but then we noticed all the white people from the gas station on the other side of the road glaring at us... We also almost got lost in the swamps lands outside of NOLA, but the drive into the city over Lake Pontchartrain as the sun was rising, gorgeous! It made the whole crazy drive worth it! Of course things only got more insane as we walked into the apartment where we planned to stay with friends from our school who were doing an internship down there. One of them was still up, drinking Crown Royal, but we just passed out. However from whatever short conversation we had with her that night, her crazy roommate decided we were bad people and kicked us out of the apartment the next day! We had done nothing. It turned out that she was bipolar, but still we had to find a room in New Orleans on no notice with no money which was basically impossible. We ended up at a very sketchy hotel right near the I-10 exit. It had rooms for like 30 bucks a night located above a 24 hours bar. You had to share the bathroom with the adjoining room. All the furniture and bedding was cigarette burned. Sound familiar? That's because I used it for I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. Louisa lives there while she's stripping, which was a career move I'd actually considered after that NOLA trip because I wanted to move there and I was a hot mess at 18, so it seemed logical. And Emily also ends up there looking for Louisa and has a crazy drugged-out hallucination/near OD experience, which um is based on a real life experience I had in that hotel room after too much drinking, cocaine, and trying to get down with sleeping pills. I told you I was a hot mess. At least I got novel material out of it. And aside from the drugged out moments and the craziness, my friend and I had a blast and New Orleans remains my second favorite city ever.

My first favorite city is Seattle, which I visited on that sort of spring break trip when I was 24. It was spring break time, but I was there to pay tribute to Kurt Cobain on the 10th anniversary of his suicide. I'd watched all the coverage of the vigils when he'd died and had always wanted to go to Seattle since I was 14, but it wasn't until I met the right people that I did. I documented our trip here: It pretty much changed my life and put a lot in perspective for me. I was finally able to get most of the hot mess stuff out of my system and really focus on writing after that. Also, I hadn't expected it at all because I thought it would be all rainy and gloomy, but I fell in love with Seattle right as I was riding the bus from the airport to our hostel. It was so green! And all the water! And the trees! And it just smelled and felt like home! It's totally the city of my heart and I go out there every year now, often in spring (leaving on April 5 this year, yay!), and ultimately I'm hoping to move out there.

Fly and have the fun be at the destination or road trip and have the journey be at least half the fun? Ah, I'm torn!!!! I love road trips. LOVE THEM! However, I also really like flying because it's the perfect reading and writing quiet time for me. Plus you get more time at your destination that way. So I think it depends on the trip. When I go to Seattle, I just want to get there, but my husband and I are hoping to road trip to the Black Hills and Deadwood in South Dakota and I think that will be a great journey.

Do/would any of your characters take Spring Break trips?  My characters tend to run away rather than take Spring Break trips ;) That's more their thing. Impromptu road trips, sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for bad (okay more often for bad, but they learn things form them).

Where would their ideal Spring Break destination be? (Together or on their own.) I think Kara and Liam from Ballads of Suburbia would have loved my trip to Seattle. They would have wanted to make it for the same reasons as me. For rock star Emily, life is always spring break and a road trip in a way.

Which of your characters (in Ballads, Joey Ramone or something not yet published) would you most have liked to have met on a Spring Break trip? Probably Emily, she'd be fun to party with and hang out in rock clubs. Though I'd also like to road trip with Zoe and Bender from my Bartender Book, which hasn't been published yet.

Best book to read on Spring Break or a road trip? If you are road tripping to New Orleans like I did, it's gotta be Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite. Generally speaking though, I think Saving June by Hannah Harrington is the ultimate road trip book.

Thank you!

My reviews of I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone and Ballads of Suburbia
IWBYJR on Goodreads, Book Depository and Amazon
Ballads of Suburbia on Goodreads, Book Depository and Amazon

Fine Stephanie on her website, writing for ROOKIE, @writerstephanie on Twitter and on Goodreads



  1. Gah! I still need to read Saving sounds so great. Road trips really are the best. Never know where the adventure will take you.

  2. I have Saving June on my TBR and will probably be reading this on my next road trip.

  3. Great interview, she seems quite like the rebellious teenager!


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