Good morning, everyone. I’ve invited Krysten Lindsay Hager here today to share some of her life and experiences with us. Please welcome her with your usual warmth.
Krysten: I started writing early on and won my first writing contest in the first grade. It was a school wide contest (1st-8th grade) so I thought I had died and gone to heaven. My reward? A certificate and a clown doll. Luckily it was a cute clown doll, not the nightmare inducing kind. Over the years I’ve written middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction, essays, news/journalism, and magazine articles. I really enjoy humor essays.
Claudsy: You didn’t waste any time, did you? Good for you. Would you tell us where you live now and why are you there?
Krysten: I currently live on Terceira Island in the Azores, which are a group of Portuguese islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve been here nearly three years but will be returning to the U.S. in the winter. We moved here because my husband’s job brought us here.
Claudsy: I’ve always been fascinated by the Azores and wanted to go there. But, how do you function living there? What amenities do you not get there that you would here and what do you really miss?
Krysten: Everything is flown in or brought in by boat pretty much, which means magazines and newspapers can be held up at customs, so sometimes we’re a month or more behind. I miss current magazines and American newspapers.
The volcano in Iceland kept planes from flying in (bad weather does as well), so sometimes it’s a struggle to get food. Fresh fruits and veggies aren’t easy to get either. You can buy a few things locally from one of the farms, but most of the farms here are for raising cattle more than produce.
Claudsy: That’s a far cry from here, it’s true. Krysten, has anything changed for you since living in the islands, regarding how you look at writing?
Krysten: I found myself focused on more internet based projects and wrote for a few websites and web magazines since sending things through the mail was a big dodgy. However, when I first got here the library was closed and there was no English bookstore, so I went to a small chapel library to see what I could find to read and met this woman there.
The first thing she started telling me was about how newcomers always come in with a list of projects and goals they want to complete while they’re there, but they miss out on the fact the island is a great place to stop, listen, and reflect. She said for most people it’s the first time they can have time to just read and spend time in silence, listening instead of talking.
I admit I was super jet-lagged while having that conversation (I was dealing with a six-hour time difference), but later I thought about that and started to notice how often we aren’t alone with our thoughts or take time to reflect. So now, I try to be more observant of what’s going on around me and I find I take in much more, which can only help my writing
Claudsy: The entire change in environment must have had a major impact on you. What’s your next project going to be?
Krysten: There’s a new book blog that’s just started, where I’m going to be doing author interviews and reviews on there soon, called “Authors and Appetizers.” I’m very excited about that. I also have an essay on family traditions and a recipe coming out this fall in: Country Comfort: Holidays Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes to Warm the Heart & Soul. http://www.amazon.com/Holidays-Cookbook-Country-Comfort-Recipes/dp/1578263808/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_1
Claudsy: I’m glad you could continue to write there. What have you learned about yourself since taking up residence there? Does that affect how you feel about writing?
Krysten: Being in Portugal has made me more aware of the different backgrounds people have, and I hope that helps me to expand as a writer, taking into consideration that not everyone has the same upbringing or grows up having the same experiences. I’ve met people from Egypt, Turkey, Puerto Rico, Spain, etc. It makes you realize there is more than one way to see a situation and seeing all these culturally diverse viewpoints makes me realize how sheltered I was in the U.S.
Just seeing the difference in a British news magazine as opposed to an American one can tell you a lot. I notice the different types of humor used and what they focus on as opposed to what you see in an American magazine. For one, European magazines don’t focus primarily on just young people and teens. Also, there is more of a focus on royalty which shows they care more about tradition than the flash in the pan entertainers.
Claudsy: We do tend to exclude much of the rest of the world here, even with CNN. Are you going to continue to concentrate on children’s literature now? Or, are you, perhaps, going to branch out even more?
Krysten: I’ve been very interested in humor essays the last few years and although I wouldn’t write a memoir (I never get how people under 80 can even consider they’ve lived a full enough life for anything like that!), but I’d like to write about my experiences here. I also have a project I’m working on from the viewpoint of a middle school girl.
Claudsy: I’d think all sorts of people would be interested in your Azores experiences. It’s not everyone that lives in the middle of an ocean with all the diverse problems that entails–at least not those who write about it. Would you be willing to live in another country again for the adventure value as well as the writing opportunities?
Krysten: It depends on the country—ha ha! I would be interested to live in the U.K. There’s so much amazing literary talent that’s come out of England, Scotland, and Ireland that I bet you could become prolific just by drinking the water! I have found, when traveling in the U.S. that often different states have their own unique culture and it can be just as diverse traveling from Michigan to South Dakota as it is coming from the U.S. and going to Portugal.
Claudsy: I know what you mean about that observation. Could you tell everyone what your new perspective on writing is?
Krysten: I think I have a much bigger respect for the truth now. Honesty in writing is very important and thanks to Facebook statuses and personal blogs, we find people often try to showcase their lives in the best possible light, which takes away from the full human experience.
Sure it’s nice to have a positive attitude, but all the statuses where you pat yourself on the back or talk about your amazing life, aren’t a hundred percent accurate, and you don’t really learn anything about the person from that. Writers who are honest, raw, and gritty really get to the core of the human experience and that includes suffering.
No kid wants to read a book about a teen or young person with a charmed life. How could they relate? So, honesty in writing is something that I have a huge respect for—even more now than before.
Claudsy: So, tell me, if you could do anything now in your writing career, what would it be and why?
Krysten: I am going to write about my experiences overseas, but I also am looking forward to writing about my experiences with culture shock when I get back. I have not set foot in the United States for almost 3 years, and I can only imagine my reaction when I get back.
Claudsy: I think you may be even more shocked than you think. Good luck and let us know what you’re doing from time to time once you’re back. I, for one, would be terribly interested.
I want to thank you so much for joining us today, Krysten. It’s been such a pleasure talking with you and discovering what your new plans are. Is there anything else that you’d like to say to those out there in the dark?
Krysten: Yes, if you want to write, then you must read, read, read. Many times I meet writers and they talk about their projects and how they want to get published, but when you ask what authors they enjoy or what they’re reading now, they stare at you blankly. It’s repeated at every single writing conference, but if you want to write, you must read what genre you want to write.
Claudsy: There you have it, folks. If you want to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Krysten again for talking with us.
Short Personal Biography
Krsyten Lindsay Hager resides for now in the Azores with her husband. This full-time writer received her undergraduate and MLS from University of Michigan-Flint.
Her writing credits include: Women of Passions: Ordinary Women Serving an Extraordinary God anthology, Patchwork Path: Grandma’s Choice anthology, Patchwork Path: Friendship Star anthology, Country Comfort: Holidays Cookbook, WOW! Women on Writing magazine, Girlfriend 2 Girlfriend magazine, The Academy magazine, The Qua Literary magazine, Working Writer, Absolute Write!, Mike’s Writing Newsletter, SCBWI newsletters in Michigan, Minnesota, and the Dakotas, Natural Awakenings. Former staff writer and columnist for the Michigan Times newspaper. Former contributing writer for: The Grand Blanc View newspaper, Davison Index newspaper, Lapeer View newspaper, Popsyndicate.com.
Writing Awards: Deadwood Art’s Council “People’s Choice Award” for best short story
Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition Honorary Mention
Be sure and visit her blog/website at: www.krystenlindsay.blogspot.com
I’ll have another something on Thursday before I trundle off to the Pacific for a scenic photo shoot and research gathering two weeks. I’ll pop in once in a while to leave tidbits for any who come to see what’s happening around here.
Enjoy yourselves while I’m gallivanting down rain forest trails and along mountain slopes. A bientot.