Jessica Collins interviews Ridgefield High School student, author of Step Bravely | #socialmedia | #children

I remember being 13 and looking at magazines realizing I didn’t look like the models. If they are perfect, then what am I? I wish I had a copy of the book “Step Bravely: A teen girl’s guide to gaining confidence in her actions, appearance, and life” by Ridgefield High School student Justine C. 

In “Step Bravely,” Justine speaks to her teen readers on how to be confident, how to deal with social media, and how to embrace wellness. Her book includes opportunities for her readers to include their own thoughts on different topics answering prompts. Included in wellness are great recipes that can easily be prepared by tweens and teens.

I had the opportunity to talk to Justine about her book. Our conversation is below. “Step Bravely” is available at Books on the Common and online at Barnes & Noble. All profits are donated to the National Eating Disorders Association.

HH: What would you like readers to know about your book that they can’t get from the blurb?

JC: One important aspect of my book is the interactive quality of it. Readers are encouraged to write notes in the margins, and there are interactive activities included throughout the book. In terms of the actual topics covered in Step Bravely, I would say that there are many more than the few mentioned in my blurb (body image, social media, confidence, and eating disorders). I also discuss issues such as comparisons, movement (exercise), photoshop editing of media, types of female role models, and the Body Positivity movement. 

HH: Tell me about your writing process and the experience of writing your first book while balancing school and sports. 

JC: Writing the book was definitely a very long and difficult process  but it was also really rewarding. Surprisingly, the hardest part wasn’t actually writing the book, but rather researching and editing. I worked on the writing aspect during quarantine, and took advantage of my free time, so it wasn’t too difficult to balance all of my activities at that point. Once school started back up, however, it was definitely a lot harder to find time to edit, especially with homework and soccer. I tried to always keep a timeline so I knew if I was on track for finishing the book. I definitely had to put the book on hold in the fall, when everything was starting back up, but once everything settled down I was able to continue to edit and finalize my draft. 

HH: What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard or been given?

JC: Write the book that you wish you could read.

HH: What is the first book you remember loving?

JC: The Books of Elsewhere Series by Jacqueline West

HH: What’s the last great book you read?

JC: Where the Crawdads SIng by Delia Owens.

HH: What would you tell someone thinking about writing a book?

JC: Don’t get discouraged. There will be so many times when you feel like you want to give up, or feel like your ideas are not worth sharing. My best advice is to just keep going every day, even when you feel like it’s not worth it. 

HH: What is the one thing you haven’t been asked but would love to tell readers about your book?

JC: My favorite part of the book. I really enjoyed writing the recipes section. It didn’t require as much work as some other parts and I personally love to try out new recipes! I tried to include foods that I love to make but are also really easy and quick so that they are realistic for other teenage girls to prepare. 

Please join me in congratulating Justine on the publication of her book! Be sure to check out a copy of this incredibly honest and inspiring guide for teen girls.

Jessica Collins is a longtime Ridgefield resident, photog, and HamletHub contributor who has won numerous Connecticut Press Club awards and has been recognized nationally for her column in Books, Ink at HamletHub, On the Children’s Shelf. 

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