This week, we caught up with author Meg Haston to discuss her latest book, How to Rock Braces and Glasses, making it through middle school and the key to giving good advice as host of gURL.com video series "How to Deal."
We'll also be giving away a free copy of the book to the first three people to leave a comment on the ReachOut website about a trial or triumph from middle school. You must be in the US to receive a book and please use a real email address when you register to comment (we will not distribute or use for marketing purposes). Good luck RO fans!
What inspired you to write "How to Rock Braces and Glasses!"?
Meg Haston: Everyone’s middle and high school experiences are different, but the one universal truth is this: we will all, at some point, feel insecure. When our queen bee protagonist Kacey Simon has to get braces and glasses and no longer looks perfect on the outside, we start to see the insecurities she feels on the inside. I loved the idea of writing about a girl who seems to live a perfect, charmed existence—and showing that even that girl has times when she feels like a major geek.
How much, if any, of the story was drawn from personal experience?
Meg Haston:The story isn’t autobiographical—I was never the most popular in school and I hope I never treated anyone the way Kacey treats people at the start of the book—but I can absolutely relate with the insecurities she feels when she gets braces and glasses. I had both, but I definitely didn’t rock them!
In the book, you explore how "queen bee" Kacey copes after falling in the ranks of her middle school hierarchy. What message do you hope tween and teen readers will take away from Kacey's story?
Meg Haston: I hope that readers will see that how we treat others truly matters—when Kacey falls from grace, she’s forced to take a look at the ways in which she’s been really hurtful to the people around her. And I hope that readers will take away the message that being able to rock anything—braces, glasses, whatever—comes from having inner confidence and believing in yourself.
Can you tell us a little about your upcoming gURL.com web series "How to Deal"? What made you decide to take the leap from writing about an advice columnist to dispensing genuinely helpful insights to teens? What type of topics will you be tackling and how do you develop your responses?
Meg Haston: I’m SO pumped about my upcoming “How to Deal” video series with gURL.com. My background is as a mental health therapist, so shooting these advice videos for gURL feels like an awesome way to dispense some really helpful advice to teens in a cool way.
I’ll be tackling issues that most of us have faced at some point—from how to deal with pushy parents to how to deal with unavailable crushes. When I sit down to develop my responses, I think about what I would say to a girl coming to me as a therapy client with any of these issues. My responses will include a mixture of what I’ve learned and experienced as a therapist, and what I’ve experienced as a teenager dealing with some of these same concerns.
"How to Rock Braces and Glasses!" is also being adapted as a TV show on Nickelodeon. Are you involved? Did you have any specific requests for howthe story and/or characters were translated to the screen?
Meg Haston: Yes! The Nickelodeon show How to Rock will air on Saturday, February 4th at 8:30 PM. I’ve seen the pilot episode and it seriously rocks! My role is as the author of the books, so I’m not involved with the television side of things. But it’s beyond exciting to see these characters that I spent so much time with as I wrote the book come to life on the screen.
As you know, ReachOut is all about helping young people get through a tough time. What helped you get through a tough time as a teen?
Meg Haston: I think the number one thing that has helped me through tough times, both as a teen and as an adult, are the strong relationships I have with family and friends. We’re social creatures—we’re not meant to go through difficult times on our own. When we’re struggling, it’s okay to reach out. It can be tough to ask for help, but having a safe, validating support system is so important.
About Meg Haston:
Meg Haston survived braces and glasses in middle school; whether she rocked them is debatable. She did go on to rock other things, including but not limited to: slap bracelets, a B.S. in Communication Studies from Northwestern University, and an M.Ed. in Professional Counseling from the University of Georgia. HOW TO ROCK BRACES AND GLASSES is her first novel,and she's currently at work on a sequel, coming in Fall 2012. She lives in Jacksonville, FL.