It was a thrilling experience when I first saw the cover of my novel, True Colors. Back when I signed the book contract, I wondered what the cover would look like—I pictured seeing the title, what they’d choose for the picture and background, and seeing my name on it, too. When the time came to discuss the cover, I sent the cover artist a link to my Pinterest board of how I imagined some of the key characters in my book. Then some pictures were emailed to me and one of the girls reminded me of a couple of my cousins. I saw one picture and thought, “Oh, she looks like family. That’s my Landry.” And later, when I saw the entire cover with its poppy cheerful colors and the three other girls on it— it just took my breath away. I briefly wondered if the ”Landry” model knew anything about being on the cover the book, but it wasn’t until I saw Facebook pictures of writer friends who went to a romance writing conference that I thought more about it. I saw so many of the authors there taking pictures with their male cover models who were also at the conference. I thought, wow, wouldn’t it be amazing to meet my cover model?
Fast forward two months and I got an email on my Facebook author page from the cover model, Evell. Her friend had seen the book online and showed it to her. I was in shock. She told me the picture was four years old and she was now twenty-two (that was total shock since my character is thirteen and turns fourteen in the story). She was very sweet and we became Facebook friends and then I noticed where she was from—Poland. Not only was that a coincidence since I’m Polish (and I said she looked like some of my family members), but she was also from a town right next to the city where my great-grandfather lived before coming to the United States. There were so many little coincidences—and the fact she even found out about the book is amazing. It’s crazy how fate can play a role in things like that. Plus, she shared some photos of herself and it was surreal getting to see “Landry” in her twenties!
My birthday was about a week later and Evell wrote a birthday wish on my Facebook wall. She wrote, ““Remember that you’re never gonna lose, either win or learn.” That has become my new motto. Everything about this book writing (and publishing) journey has been a learning experience—it has showed me so much about life, friendships (for one, can you believe I’m still having some of the same conversations about friends that Landry has in the book—and she’s in eighth grade?), and how the universe is anything but random.
As I get feedback on the book from both friends and readers I have never met before, I see how there is so much common ground between all of us. I have had comments from a 76 year-old man telling me he wish he had read this book when his twins were this age and how he can flash back to those days himself, to a single father saying reading it with his girls has helped him understand what they are going through as they deal with their early teen years. I’ve heard from moms with kids dealing with the same friend drama and from friends my age who say that not only does the story bring back memories, but they realize they are still dealing with the same “frenemies” stuff they thought they left behind in junior high. Even my husband said reading the story made him realize how girls that age were going through the same confusion the way boys at that age are/were. The one thing I hear over and over again is, “We all go through it,” and I realize how much we are all connected.
Right after I wrote this post, I turned on the Oprah interview with Ali MacGraw and Ali was talking about how people in society are all connected….exactly one minute after I had typed that very same thing. Perhaps I need to write a book where the main character wins the lottery…
Tagline: A little competition can really bring out people’s true colors.
Blurb: Landry Albright just wants to be one of the interesting girls at school who always have exciting things going on in their lives. She wants to stand out, but also wants to fit in, so she gives in when her two best friends, Ericka and Tori, push her into trying out for a teen reality show modeling competition with them. Landry goes in nervous, but impresses the judges enough to make it to the next round. However, Ericka and Tori get cut and basically “unfriend” her on Monday at school. Landry tries to make new friends, but gets caught up between wanting to be herself and conforming to who her new friends want her to be. Along the way she learns that modeling is nowhere as glamorous as it seems, how to deal with frenemies, a new crush, and that true friends see you for who you really are and like you because of it.
Back Cover : Every day I walked down the sidewalk to school and wished I were one of the interesting popular girls who ran up with exciting news. Just once I’d like to be one of those girls instead of the being the one who didn’t get invited to things because people “forgot” about me.
Landry gets pushed into trying out for the American Ingénue reality show modeling competition with her two best friends. She doesn’t think she stands a chance, but she advances to the next level in the competition and her friends ignore her when they get cut.
Enter the gorgeous Devon, who also makes the first cut and includes Landry in her clique. Devon becomes the perfect best friend, but can their friendship survive the competition?
Landry hopes her big break could come at any moment, but soon sees there’s much more to modeling than getting your hair done and looking pretty. She begins missing out on being with new friends like Ashanti, a girl who truly has Landry’s back. Landry also has the chance to have a boyfriend when she meets a boy named Vladi from another school.
Part of Landry wants to be famous (and have her hair look good for once), but part of her just wants to be accepted. She learns about friendships, being true to yourself, and that a good hair conditioner doesn’t hurt.
Character Interview with Landry Albright from True Colors.
What’s the worst thing that’s happened in your life? What did you learn from it?
When my friends all got mad at me—first when Ericka and Tori stopped speaking to me after we all tried out for the American Ingénue reality show modeling competition and I made it to the next round and they didn’t. But I learned who my true friends were after that.
Tell me about your best friend.
I have two or three besties. Tori used to be my best friend, but after she got mad at me over that modeling thing…I just don’t trust her the same way. Ashanti Russell is one of my closest friends. We became closer after getting to know each other better. She always has my back. Peyton Urich is another of my best friends. We met when Tori and Ericka weren’t speaking to me. She’s been such an amazing friend. And Devon and I have best friend bracelets together, but…sometimes she gets a little controlling.
What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?
I was in a dance recital when I was four years old. We were supposed to be little ballerinas and have scarves attached to our tutus, but my mom was still in school at the time and she came home late and forgot to give me my scarves. So all the other little girls pulled out their scarves, and there’s a video of me looking on either side of my tutu for my scarves and then bursting into tears crying “Mommy!” as I ran off the stage. My grandmother said I was adorable, but I don’t think it was any coincidence my grandfather died two weeks later.
What is your greatest regret?
That I messed up my introduction during the American Ingénue competition. All I had to do was say, “Hi, I’m Landry Albright from Grand Rapids, Michigan,” and instead I said, “Chicago, Illinois,” my old state and when I went back to correct it, I totally slammed into the next contestant, made the microphone shriek and embarrassed myself. If I could go back in time, I’d totally choose that moment to change.
Do you ever lie?
Well, I don’t outright lie, but when my dad asks about my math grades, I do point out how awesome I’m doing in English and hope he changes the subject.
What do you like best about yourself? Least?
Best? I think I’m a nice person and a good friend. Least? My hair. I’d much rather have Devon’s dark, curly hair or Peyton’s dark red hair.
What is in your refrigerator right now?
Leftover butterscotch and vanilla pudding from the variety packs my mom and I eat all the chocolate out of.
What’s on your bedroom floor?
Dirty clothes—like my Hillcrest school uniform that makes me look like a dead goldfish, my mom’s favorite sweatshirt that I borrowed and got something blue on (when did I have fruit?), and some magazines.
What’s on your nightstand?
Magazines, YA mystery novels, gum wrappers, and my favorite lip gloss.
Imagine you’re doing intense spring cleaning. What’s easy to throw out? What is difficult to part with?
Did my mom put you up to asking this? I hate cleaning my room, but whatever. I guess the easiest stuff to throw out would be all the candy wrappers and to put my soda cans in the bin to take back for a deposit. What’s difficult to part with would be my magazines. I like to hang onto them and look at them at night before I go to bed. And I would never part with my stuffed animals—especially the blue mouse my dad got me when I was little.
If you could spend the day with someone you admire (living, dead or imaginary), who would you pick?
Talisa Milan, my favorite model who won the American Ingénue competition. She’s so busy that I doubt I could keep up with her, but I’d love to see what it’s like to be her just for one day. She hosts a video show, does makeup and hair care commercials, goes to school, and she’s dating a member of the band, The Puking Baby Dolls.
Are you upset your name is not in the title?
Not really. Krysten almost used it for the title of the sequel, but at the last minute she changed it. She told me she might use that one for the third book though.
Did your story end too soon?
I’m getting a sequel and she’s working on a third book, so I’m okay with it as long as she lets Vladi call me and stuff.
Did you and your author agree on the storyline?
Well, at first she told me I had no say in any of it, but she can’t really control what I say or do. I’m just me and she has to figure out what to do with that. She calls it, “frustrating,” but hey, I told her, “You’re the one who became a writer. What did you expect, genius?” So whatever. She’s got to deal with it.
Krysten Lindsay Hager is an author and book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and also writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. TRUE COLORS is her bestselling debut novel from Astraea Press. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing. She received her master’s in American Culture from the University of Michigan-Flint.