Her Story: Ladies In Literature with Stefanie Lyons

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as twenty-four authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!


About Stefanie Lyons

Most days, I’m 17.

Remember your mom saying you weren’t old enough to wear makeup or that you had to be home by a certain time because nothing good happens after midnight?

Well, those are the moments I pretty much spend all my time daydreaming about. I grew up in a small town in Kansas and now I live in Chicago. However, no matter where I am, I’m perpetually cruising the Square, crushing on boys, organizing my locker, practicing my clarinet, or getting ready for prom. In my head, that is. Because my teen years were great.

A few other things about me: I received my MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts where I met some of my favorite people ever — who also happen to be perpetual teenagers. I’m a big fan of faraway places, aimless wandering, and adventures that only happen when you daydream. Oh, and I love Twizzlers. Who doesn’t?

My debut novel, Dating Down, a YA novel in verse, comes out April 2015 with Flux.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

Anne Frank was a cool chick. And my heroine. In spite of living in hiding during World War II, her memoir, The Diary Of A Young Girl, introduced me to a girl who reminded me of myself. She also taught me about life.

Like Anne, I had a limited worldview. Mine, was from growing up in a small farming town pre-Internet. However, I too, felt trapped and restless without any connection to the rest of the world. I wanted to spread my wings and discover more.

Anne believed her dreams were obtainable. And she just kept right on dreaming. And plotting. And planning. Even from inside that tiny little upstairs apartment; which gave me hope. Instead of feeling like a silly daydreaming girl, I could look to Anne and see the power of dreams. And believe in them.

Also, Anne was an aspiring teen writer. I was an aspiring teen writer. Reading how she used her diary as a place to practice her craft gave me a whole new outlook on writing in mine and using it as a tool to grow. And, she made me realize I could someday write words that touched others.

Anne thought her feelings were insignificant. I felt the same way. I remember a day not long before high school when I marched out to the alley and pitched all my middle school diaries because I thought they were too embarrassing to have in my possession once I became an important and super serious high school student.

Lastly, Anne died as a teen. And that’s where we diverge. However, not long after my mother introduced me to this book, she died unexpectedly. And the pain and longing and heartbreak I felt with Anne’s story came to take on another layer of connection for me. Years after my mother’s death, I reread this book, visited the Anne Frank House, traveled to Auschwitz, and revisited her house. Why? Because the girl in that book all those years ago spoke to something deep inside me that’s timeless.

As ladies in literature, I think it’s our duty to leave a trail. It can be poignant and meaningful or simple and quiet. But it does have to be authentic. Because that’s what connects us — authenticity. Truth. As a girl. As a teen. As a woman. As a female. As an aspiring author who died way too young.

Even as a heroine whose story took place on the other side of the globe in a different era, I connected with you, Anne Frank. I heard you. I felt you. And I too, will never stop writing down my feelings. I’ll never stop feeling vulnerable in sharing my thoughts, but writing them anyway. I’ll never stop hoping and trying. I will not stop believing the world can be a better place or that it has the potential to be better than how it is now. And that’s because of you. You were a strong female who didn’t realize you were a strong female. You were just surviving. But your ability to hold onto your dreams — in spite of the dire circumstances around you — well, that changed the way I thought about my own potential.

So thank you for being the heroine of your story. The one you had no intention of sharing with the world. Because of it, you opened my eyes and inspired my soul. And for that, dear Anne, I thank you.

Title Dating Down
Author Stefanie Lyons
Pages 336 Pages
Genre Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Poetry
Publisher Flux
To Be Published April 8th, 2015
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

She thought she loved him. She thought she could change him. She thought if she just believed in him enough, his cheating and his drugs and his lying would stop, and she’d be his and he’d be hers and they’d love each other forever.

But for Samantha Henderson, X – the boy she will not name – is trouble. He’s older, edgier, bohemian…and when he starts paying attention to Sam, she can’t resist him. Samantha’s family and friends try to warn her, but still she stays with him, risking her future and everything that really matters.

As moody and vivid as it is captivating, Dating Down is told in scenes and bursts of poetry that create a story filled with hurt, healing, and hope.


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