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Author Stephanie Kuehnert Talks Teens, Music, and Oak Park

Stephanie Kuehnert

Forest Park resident Stephanie Kuehnert writes about teens, music, and Oak Park.  This ambitious, creative woman has turned her dream into a reality.  Like most writers, her craft grew through reading as a young girl.  She moved to Oak Park from St. Louis when she was 8-years-old, and her mom took her to library often.

“I was pretty obsessed with reading,” she said.  “I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder to the point where I used to dress up like a frontier girl.  But, my life wasn’t as exciting as hers.  I was just a girl living in Oak Park.”  To make life more exciting, Kuehnert turned to fiction writing.  She enjoyed writing science fiction and political and feminist essays.

After high school, she moved around a bit until she began taking classes at Columbia College Chicago for creative writing.  “I had no other excuse but to write for a few years,” she said.  “It was my main job to be a creative writer.”  After immersing herself into the writing world and receiving her Bachelor’s in 2003 and a Master’s in 2006, lady luck stepped in.

                “There is a festival every year at Columbia called Story Week Festival for Writers,” Kuehnert said.  “Columbia brings in people within the industry such as agents and editors.”  An agent read her unfinished story and loved it, and asked her when she would be finished with it.  “That kind of lit a fire within me,” Kuehnert said.  Kuehnert finished her manuscript and her agent found her a publisher:  MTV Books, a division of Simon and Schuster.

Her first novel, I Want to Be Your Joey Ramone was published in 2008.  The book is about a young girl named Emily whose mother Louisa left her in the 70s to follow punk rock across the country.  Emily has been raised by her father in a small town in Southern Wisconsin and uses her music to reach out to her mother.  Kuehnert’s second novel, Ballads of Suburbia, published in 2009, is set in Oak Park during the 90s.  It is about teens struggling with depression, self injury, and addiction.

                She currently has an adult and young adult novel that her literary agent is trying to get published.  She is also working on yet another contemporary young adult novel.  Besides writing novels, she is a bartender at the Beacon Pub in Forest Park, she writes for the Forest Park Review and Rookie Magazine.  She also will be teaching a creative writing class at Columbia this fall.  When she does have time to read for pleasure, Kuehnert loves the Harry Potter series and the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr.

“For the future, I want to keep getting published, expand my audience and grow my craft,” Kuehnert said.  “I want to improve as a writer and find interesting ways to tell my stories.”


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