Nicole Kronzer: “Unscripted” Guest Blog

Posted March 25, 2020 by Sara | Novel Novice 1 Comment

What’s it take for YOU to believe in yourself? Today, author Nicole Kronzer talks about what it took to believe in her own ability to write a book, ahead of the April 21st release of her debut YA novel, Unscripted.

What it took for me to believe I could write a book
By Nicole Kronzer

I’ve been writing for fun my whole life. When I was nine, my family road tripped through South Dakota. Once I saw that the Corn Palace wasn’t like a fairy tale princess palace, I decided someone should document this tragedy, and that someone should be me. Nicole’s Guide to South Dakota was my first book.

I went on to write a lot of Babysitter’s Club fan fiction, short plays starring me—reality-defying tales wherein the person I had a crush on liked me back—and the beginnings of approximately ten million short stories.

Linda Holmes, NPR host and author of Evie Drake Starts Over, said at a recent appearance in Minneapolis that she was surprised to learn as an adult that not everyone dreams of writing and publishing a book. I, too, took it for granted this was what everyone wanted. And because it was something everyone wanted, there wasn’t any way I could do it. I was a nobody from a small town in Wisconsin. I was certain only people who lived in New York City got to write books.

So I did other things. I went to school for theatre. Then for teaching.

After I was hired to teach English in an enormous high school in the suburbs of Minneapolis, they asked me if I’d teach Debate. “Do I still have this job if I say no?” I asked. “Yes,” they said. “Then no!” I said. “I don’t know anything about Debate.” “How about Creative Writing?” they asked. “Yes!” I exclaimed. Not that I knew a whole lot about how to teach Creative Writing, either, at that point. But at least I knew I loved it. (Plus, I did not want to say no to my new employer twice!)

In reading my students’ writing and trying to figure out how to help them make it better, it made me a better writer. I still dreamed of writing a book and being published, but I was no closer to believing that dream could come true.

Then my school librarian started inviting early-career authors to my school. People like Gene Luen Yang, Katherine Applegate, Raina Telegemeier, and Nina LaCour. People who lived in Minnesota, too, like Kao Kalia Yang, Swati Avasthi, and Geoff Herbach. I got to spend entire school days with some of these folks, and as I live ten minutes from the airport, I was often their airport shuttle, too.

It took face time with actual authors for me to realize: they were just people. People who went to the grocery store. People who had spouses and kids. Some of them had been to fancy schools, but some of them hadn’t. Some of them were even teachers like me. And none of them lived in New York City.

I was in a unique position when I started writing Young Adult books—by 2016, I’d been surrounded by teenagers all day for ten years. I’d been teaching Creative Writing and reading YA, and I’d never stopped writing for fun on my own.

I couldn’t see any of that, however, or believe in myself enough to even try to write a book, much less think about how I might get an agent. None of it seemed possible until I met this stream of authors, each of whom asked me, “So, Nicole. Do you write?”

They weren’t sarcastic when they asked. They didn’t giggle behind their hands. They were earnest. Because, it turned out, it wasn’t a ridiculous ask—I was a person, too.

My first novel, Unscripted, comes out in April. It took hard work and support from my family and friends and certainly luck, too. But if you had asked me at age nine what I dreamed the hardest part about getting published would be, I probably would have said having a good enough idea—not the act of getting out of my own way.

As Unscripted hits the shelves, I’m extra grateful to my librarian, Terri Evans, and all those authors, for helping me adjust my expectations for myself and believe I deserved to try.

And now that I have experience adjusting expectations, maybe it’s time I do that for the Corn Palace, too.

Seventeen-year-old Zelda Bailey-Cho has her future all planned out: improv camp, then Second City, and finally Saturday Night Live. She’s thrilled when she lands a spot on the coveted varsity team at a prestigious improv camp, which means she’ll get to perform for professional scouts—including her hero, Nina Knightley. But even though she’s hardworking and talented, Zelda’s also the only girl on Varsity, so she’s the target for humiliation from her teammates. And her 20-year-old coach, Ben, is cruel to her at practice and way too nice to her when they’re alone. Zelda wants to fight back, but is sacrificing her best shot at her dream too heavy a price to pay? Equal parts funny and righteous, Unscripted is a moving debut novel that Printz Award winner Nina LaCour calls “a truly special book, written at exactly the right time.”

Nicole Kronzer is a former professional actor and improvisor who now teaches English and creative writing. She loves to knit and run (usually not at the same time) and has named all the plants in her classroom. She lives with her family in Minneapolis. Visit her online at nicolekronzer.com.

Sara | Novel Novice
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