Ask the Author: Kes Trester
What would you like readers to know about you?
I would like readers to know that every (hopefully positive!) communication they have with authors informs and inspires us. I’ve had teenage girls tell me Riley Collins, the strong but imperfect main character of my book, has helped them find their own inner strength in difficult moments. And I’ve had parents write me to say thank you for getting their daughters to put down their phones for hours at a time! This is the kind of encouraging feedback authors love.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
As the daughter of an American ambassador, seventeen-year-old Riley Collins has grown up in some of the world’s most dangerous cities, learning political strategies from her dad and defensive skills from his security chief. The only thing it didn’t prepare her for was life as an American teenager when she finds herself at an elite Connecticut prep school charged with watching over a billionaire’s daughter with a target on her back. It’s GOSSIP GIRL with mystery and murder!
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
My inspiration for writing A DANGEROUS YEAR was two-fold. First, I have a teenage daughter, and it’s important to me that she read books that depict strong, capable young women who are not defined by the love interests in their lives. Second, when I was picking my daughter up one day from her admittedly elite private high school in Los Angeles, I overheard a conversation several girls were having about a classmate who didn’t seem to understand certain unwritten social rules. It made me wonder what it would be like to be dropped into such a privileged world without a guidebook. That was the day Riley Collins was born.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
Riley has a close, fatherly relationship with her dad’s head of security, Benson, who’s a hulking Australian with his own set of rules for life. Writing their interactions has been some of my favorite moments, and I hear his accented dialogue in my head whenever he speaks!
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
I was a voracious reader as a kid, but young adult novels with action and adventure always had a boy as the main character. I wanted to be James Bond, or D’Artagnan, or Robin Hood! When I decided to write for young adult readers, I knew I had to write books I wish had been on the shelf when I was a teen.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
I often see writers tweet that they’re turning 30 or 35, but haven’t yet published, so what is the point of writing? I want to tell them their skills will continue to grow and develop over time, and not to set artificial deadlines when so much about our industry is beyond a writer’s control. If you love to write, keep writing. Your career path may not be what you’d hoped or expected, but as I often say: you can’t win if you don’t play.
Thank you for the fun interview, Maddie!
IG and Twitter: @kestrester