It’s Research, Not Stalking: Q & A with a Teenage Writer


I’m excited to bring you another Reader Paparazzi post–my Q & A series featuring teens. (If you missed the others, click here or on the tab in the header above.)

I spend a lot of time inside the mind of fictional teens–writing and reading, so it’s great to get a little real YA world perspective to help with character inspiration or simply if you want to see what holds a teen’s interest (it’s not always sparkly things).


teen read interview

It’s research, not stalking.

This week our real YA is 17, a rising senior and an aspiring writer!

A big HELLO to Niki!

So, NIki, what book are you reading right now?

Right now I’m in a book frenzy! Especially with summer coming up! Right now I’m reading A Song of Ice and Fire and Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin as well as Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark.


what teens are reading


What makes you want to pick up a book to read?

Reading has always been my favorite hobby. I’m a writer too, so any book that will help enhance my writing is a must.

What’s your favorite class in school? What’s your toughest subject?

My favorite class is AP Art History, and my toughest subject is AP Biology.

What is your favorite thing to do after school? What is your least favorite?

My favorite thing to do is read! Especially if I’m in the middle of a really good book. Also, I love talking to my best friend. She lives in Brazil, so I never get to see her. My least favorite thing to do is homework.

If you could Skype with a famous person who would that be?

I would probably want to Skype with Emilia Clarke. She plays my favorite character in Game of Thrones.

Top three songs playing on your iPod?

The Cave- Mumford and Sons
Rainy Zurich- The Fray
Enchanted- Taylor Swift

What was the last movie you saw?

On the Waterfront

What advice would you give your parents?

Probably to trust me more. They’re really great parents, but sometimes I feel that they’re a little overprotective especially my mom.

What is your biggest fear?

To graduate from college and not be able to find a job and pay off the ridiculously expensive student loans!

What are you looking forward to most right now?

Duke Young Writers’ Camp this summer! All of my best friends are there!

What is your favorite comfort food?

Probably a tie between Sweet Frog frozen yogurt and Sour Patch candy.

And lastly, what is something you would like to learn how to do?

Oh gosh! I would probably want to learn how to speak Greek. That’s where my family is from, and it would be nice to learn how to communicate better with them.

Thanks for stopping by Niki! It was great to get to know you better.

Thank you so much for interviewing me!


Do you have any questions you want answered in future Q & As?  Let me know in the comments.  

Or answer me this question: 

What do you still want to learn how to do?



49 thoughts on “It’s Research, Not Stalking: Q & A with a Teenage Writer

    1. I know! I would’ve loved a camp like that when I was a teenager! This is the first I’d heard of Mumford and Sons–that’s cool that you have a connection 🙂
      Thanks Joanna.


  1. I love the Fray and often write to their music. Game of thrones, I totally agree, loved it when I read it a couple of years ago.

    This is a great interview Coleen/Niki!

    And this site is looking pretty cool!


  2. Love these posts. It makes me realize how much I don’t about teens — my daughter is now 28. Times have changed in 10 years. The Duke Writer’s Conference sounds wonderful — Congratulation Nikki.

    Questions — I always wonder what teens think about our unsteady world? Do they have concerns that may translate into their career choices and writing, if they love reading and writing. Are they involved in service in their community? I realize many teens live in the moment, but many are very thoughtful and focused. Just a thought.


  3. Like Susie, I want to work on my French. I also want to read and write more, visit all the National Parks, and learn basic Spanish. Oh, and sign me up for the Duke Old Writers Camp.

    Thanks for this interview, Coleen. Niki, have a great summer and a wonderful senior year. You’re going places.


    1. I used to ski in high school and then went to try it again ten years ago. It didn’t feel the same, much like my more recent attempts at a cartwheel. I am so much more graceful in my mind. 🙂 Thanks Sheila!


  4. Can I adopt Niki? She is way too sweet! Those are some heavy books she’s reading. I mean that literally, have you seen how huge they are? What a cool kid.

    You know what I want to learn now? How to keep plants alive. Specifically, a vegetable garden. I kill anything green.


  5. Sour patch candy – you rock, Niki!! I love sour patch candy.

    Great interview. Your best friend’s from Brazil but you want to learn Greek? Not Portugese? Well, I guess maybe you already know how to speak a little Portugese if she’s your friend.

    Good luck with the writing and have fun at the writer’s camp.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


  6. Writing camp sounds like fun!
    do you have any other recommendations for teen writers out there? Writing groups or mentorship? Thanks! (I want to pass it on to a friend.)


  7. Another great interview, Coleen. I can’t tell you how helpful they are. I love Niki’s music choices. 🙂 That’s the kind of stuff I often listen to. She is super lucky to already know what she wants to do when when she grows up and be working her way towards it. I didn’t have a clue at that age. The writer’s camp sounds fantastic! Go Niki! Thanks for giving us all a smidgen of your time.


    1. I’m glad you find them helpful! That’s what I’m hoping for 🙂 Every time I get answers back from a teen I am surprised by something, which in my mind means I have to keep myself open when writing my characters!
      Thanks Debra!


  8. Sorry, but Niki doesn’t sound like a typical 17 year old to me. Maybe I’m stereotyping. I would love to hook her up with my son- who is unfortunately 12 years too old for her. He, too, loves- and loved- to read and Game of Thrones is one of his favorites. Not coincidentally, he is the most well adjusted member of our family. I’ll bet the same could be said for Niki!


    1. Not typical is what I seem to be uncovering in these interviews–which is an excellent reminder for me as a YA writer. I’ve got to look beyond the surface and the stereotypes!
      And you’re right well-adjusted sounds about right. 🙂
      Thanks Paul.


  9. I love interview answers teens give. They always surprise me some way, like wanting to learn Greek because her family is Greek. I’m surprised that would be important to a teen, when friends usually trump family. I’d love it if you could figure out how to get teens to talk more about relationships in an interview…


  10. I really do love this segment! The Fray, Taylor Swift, and Sour Patch Kids, I couldn’t agree with her more =)

    One thing I would love to learn is how to play the violin; that or American Sign Language.


  11. Hi Niki, I am so excited for you! Camp sounds great and you have an amazing future ahead of you! Senior year is a blast girl! I think it’s so cool that you have a friend in Brazil. That is the best part of growing up now and having the capability to keep in touch like that. You sound very successful already. You have a great attitude. But as a Mom, I can’t help but say that it sounds like you have a great Mom. We can’t help ourselves from caring too much. I am guilty of the same thing. So forgive us. We can’t help it. We love our kids. Shoot us all now and get it over with! LOL! I’m kidding! I wish you all the best! Great interview Coleen and so nice to meet you Niki! 🙂


  12. Fascinating interview. I get so excited when I read or hear about teens who are into reading and writing. I have one child who is mesmerized by books the way I am, one who can take it or leave it and one who doesn’t read anything if it is not on Facebook or instagram. How exciting that be attending Duke Young Writers Camp. I wasn’t surprised to read that she wished her mom trusted her more. If only there was a way for our teens to know that we do trust them, we just don’t trust the rest of the world…

    I have been away from blogging for a few weeks so this is the first interview I’ve read of your with real teens. I love the idea. How are you selecting your guest?


    1. Hi Meliisa,
      Thanks for coming by Melissa. So far the teens I’ve interviewed have been friends of my kids. I also have some more in the works–children of people I and/or my husband know. And I have a few young bloggers in mind that I might ask too. It’s not that hard to get them to answer the questions, but not so easy to get them to come by the blog to respond to comments. One of these days I’ll get someone who is not afraid to pop into the comments! 🙂


  13. Great interview, Coleen! It’s always nice to be able to peer into the mind of a teen.

    To answer your question “what is it that I’d like to learn to do”, my answer is: learn how to be patient.
    I have a crippling short attention span so it’d be really nice to actually take the time to — OOOOH LOOK SOMETHING SHINY!

    Wait what was I saying again?


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