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An Interview with Kristen Henderson

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Kristen Henderson began her writing career decades ago at the Stanford Daily (Stanford University), where she served as editor-in-chief. Her life has seen a lot of twists and turns through medical challenges, bringing her to understand that the creative process of writing fiction is where she thrives. During the pandemic, she founded Bright Flash Literary Review, an online journal for flash fiction and memoir. Through Bright Flash, Kristen has developed a vast online community of writers from all over the world.

Her fiction work has appeared in Bending Genres, 34th Parallel, Nymphs, Free Flash Fiction, and Literary Yard, amongst others.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

I started writing my novel during National Novel Writing Month at the height of the pandemic. The story itself can help teenagers cope with the challenges that come with being a teen, some mundane, others more complex. Hopefully, Splashing Up will fill a void in the YA literature sphere.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

For most of my book’s existence, the title was “Trying to Escape Limbo” or “Escaping Limbo,” until I had an aha moment when I realized the book deserved a more upbeat title. During a Zoom with some writing colleagues, we collectively landed on “Splashing Up,” which works well because swimming pools play a major role in the novel.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

My book is set in 2008, so its soundtrack would include “Low” by FloRida, “Vida la Vida” by Coldplay, “I Kissed a Girl,” by Katy Perry, “Lollipop” by Little Wayne, and “Take a Bow” by Rihanna.

Describe your dream book cover.

My dream cover for Splashing Up would have the back of a girl in a one-piece bathing suit, with frizzy brown hair in a high ponytail, kicking water in a backyard swimming pool.

What books did you read (for research or comfort) throughout your writing process?

Because Splashing Up is a YA novel featuring a parentified child, I read as many books as I could with children who took on roles of an adult. eleanor and park by Rainbow Rowell and Matilda by Roald Dahl are excellent examples of books with parentified children.

On the other side of the spectrum, I read Lithium for Medea by Kate Braverman. Her brisk sentences and intricate descriptions of human interactions, especially the mother-daughter relationship, though not comforting, were inspirational as I went through my writing process.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I hope readers of Splashing Up will learn that while it might not seem like life has a level playing field, that acceptance of others and the understanding that sometimes not all dreams can be achieved, can lead to an easier time navigating adolescence.

The perfect reader for my novel is an 11 – 16-year-old girl or boy. Though the protagonist is a 13-year-old girl, boys will also be interested in the plot lines, as there are several places where boys are both sensitive and insensitive to girls.

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