Kay Stephens is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction and a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience working with teens and tweens in New England. As the program administrator of the groundbreaking STEM program for middle school girls, she was the first to create Internet Safety and Cyberbullying Prevention Workshops throughout Maine in the mid-2000s. She teamed up with Vinitha Nair to research and write a workbook for parents and educators on the six most common types of cyberbullying titled Cyberslammed, sponsored by Time Warner Cable and published in 2012.
In 2013, Stephens and Nair won first prize in nonfiction from IndieReader Discovery Awards for Cyberslammed.
A Google Hangout interview with Kay about Ethel Is Hot LOL, her companion tween novel to Cyberslammed, appeared with On The Marc Media on January, 2014. Link: http://onthemarcmedia.com/tag/kay-stephens/
INTERVIEW WITH KAY STEPHENS:
How did you get started writing?
When I was around 10 or 11, my dad would encourage me to write a short story with five new vocab words that he provided. I could butcher the meaning of them all I wanted, as long as they were part of the story. For example I might write: "Might I digress? Heavens no, keep your clothes on!" Playing with words and finding ways to make my dad laugh is really how my interest in writing started.
Who influenced you?
There have been certain literary influences along the way, but what has truly shaped my writing are the people I've encountered in my life. Some people are just walking living characters and they don't even realize it.
Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
I still want to get through one of those "100 books you should read in a lifetime” lists. I have a varied interest in genres, running from moody, complicated, dystopian settings and characters and sharp, funny, satiric stuff, like David Sedaris. Right now I'm reading Kate Atkinson's Life After Life. I'm currently writing my second novel, which requires a lot of research about Maine Prohibition, island life and dark Irish-Scottish legends. So, that's been kind of fun, to poke into the less savory elements of Maine history.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
If you ever want to evolve from apprenticing at writing to mastering your skills, it takes perseverance. Writing is so competitive these days that if your end goal is just to see your name on the cover of a book, you're likely to be disappointed. I've been traditionally published as well as self-published and each has been a hard road. Write your heart out. Work, work, work on it, polish it. It's about chiseling out the most original, best work you can produce. Make that your end goal.
Where is your favorite place to write?
Sitting on an ocean cliff surrounded by woods with a notebook and the sound of the waves crashing below.
What else would you like to tell us?
My latest e-book is for all the kids in the world who have been blindsided by cyberbullying. Ethel is Hot LOL came out of my experience working with middle school girls in a math, science, technology and engineering (STEM) environment in the 2000s. As the program administer of a national online girls chat room, I saw the origins of cyberbullying when it first began. I've been researching its various tactics for the last 10 years. And as a fiction writer, I saw very few tween novels on this subject that didn't oversimplify it. So instead of trying to "tell" kids what cyberbullying is, I wrote Ethel Is Hot LOL portraying four nerdy, smart girls who fall prey to various tactics—and find a way to band together and turn the tables on the cyberbullies in a very big way.
To learn how to identify and prevent some of the cyberbullying tactics that occur in the book, visit our website: Parents and teachers will find our adult cyberbullying guide, Cyberslammed, dovetails with the themes of Ethel Is Hot LOL.