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Stephanie Kuehnert got her start writing bad poetry about unrequited love and razor blades in eighth grade. In high school, she discovered punk rock and produced several D.I.Y. feminist 'zines. She received her MFA in creative writing from Columbia College Chicago. Her first YA novel, I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE was published by MTV Books in July 2008, and her second, BALLADS OF SUBURBIA was published in July 2009. In addition to writing novels, she is a teacher and a staff writer for ROOKIE, an online magazine for teenage girls. Stephanie lives in Seattle with her husband and two cats.

photo by Jessie TierneyStephanie was born St. Louis, Missouri in the fine year of 1979. She moved to the Chicago area with her parents and younger brother, Daniel in the late eighties. Stephanie got her start like most authors by writing bad poetry about unrequited love and razor blades back in eighth grade. That was also around the time she discovered punk rock. Along with literature by geniuses such as Shakespeare, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Steinbeck, Sylvia Plath, Francesca Lia Block, John McNally, Irvine Welsh, and Louise Erdrich, noisy guitars and lyrics by Kurt Cobain, Johnny Cash, Mike Ness, Courtney Love, Robert Smith, Mark Lanegan, and Brody Dalle are Stephanie's primary influences.

During a dark and angsty period in high school, Stephanie was exposed to Riot Grrrl via punk rock and radical politics long fostered by activist parents and an early interest in animal rights. She wrote several feminist zines including Kill Supermodels, Goddess Defiled, Hospital Gown, and Do Not Go Quietly Unto Yr Grave. Hospital Gown was featured in the book ZINE SCENE by Francesca Lia Block and Hillary Carlip complete with a picture of bleached-blonde seventeen year-old Stephanie. Hillary Carlip was one of Stephanie's earliest writing mentors and they remain friends to this day.

By her first year of college at the extremely liberal Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, Stephanie was jaded and goth (though you'll be happy to know that she remained vegan, rediscovered punk rock, her faith in politics, and stopped wearing that white face makeup after a couple years). After one wild year in Ohio, she dropped out of college to "be a writer," but really she just moved to Madison, Wisconsin, drank a lot of boxed wine and went out clubbing for two years. However, the landscape of Wisconsin ultimately inspired the setting of her first novel I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE.

Stephanie finally moved back to her hometown of Oak Park, Illinois at the ripe, old age of twenty-one and got her Bachelors in Fiction Writing at Columbia College Chicago. She liked the program and the people she met there so much that she decided to stay for her Masters, which she finished in June of 2006. At Columbia, she learned from such literary luminaries such as Irvine Welsh (TRAINSPOTTING), Joe Meno (HAIRSTYLES OF THE DAMNED), Dorothy Allison (BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA), and Sam Weller (THE BRADBURY CHRONICLES). She also spent time in L.A., taking classes on the CBS Studio lot through Columbia's Semester in L.A. program.

Stephanie met her first agent at Columbia's Story Week in March of 2005 and that, along with Fiction Writing Department Chair, Randy Albers, kicked her ass into finishing her first book I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE by February 2006. It sold to MTV Books in spring of 2007 and was published in July of 2008. Her second novel, BALLADS OF SUBURBIA came out in the summer of 2009, also published by MTV Books. BALLADS is inspired by the near-western suburbs of Chicago, but is in no way autobiographical.

Prior to having her books published, Stephanie had short stories published in 10,000 Tons of Black Ink, f Magazine, Hair Trigger, Black Oak Presents, and on inkstains.org. "Fairytale," an excerpt from her novel I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE that appeared in Hair Trigger 27 was awarded Third Place in Traditional Fiction by the Columbia University Scholastic Press Association. Stephanie's interviews and essays have appeared in No Touching Magazine, Glimmer Train's Writer's Ask, on Virginia Quarterly Review's website, and on freshyarn.com.

Stephanie has recently finished her first adult book, another mother/daughter story like I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE, but this time though music plays a role (the daughter is a vegan punk like Stephanie was in high school and the mom is goth girl like Stephanie was in her late teens/early twenties), it is inspired by Stephanie's experiences working in a neighborhood dive bar (Forest Park, Illinois' Beacon Pub) as well as her love for The Gilmore Girls. She has also recently completed another contemporary YA, this one about a sixteen year-old girl, who is coping (or not really coping) with the unexpected death of her older brother as well as an unhealthy relationship. Both books are being shopped by Adrienne Rosado of Nancy Yost Literary Agency. Contact Adrienne by email at adrienne at nyliterary dot com for any rights inquiries.

You'll also regularly find essays about Stephanie's angsty teenage years and gushing reviews about stuff she loves at ROOKIE, an online magazine for teenage girls, where she is lucky enough to be a staff writer. She also writes a regular column for the Forest Park Review and is a contributor to Ms. Fit, a real-world, feminist fitness magazine. Stephanie's next major writing project is a zine-style essay collection based on her writing for Rookie.

Currently, Stephanie's main project is her long-dreamed about move to Seattle, Washington, a process that she is documenting on her "Seattle-Bound Writer Girl" Tumblr. She left her Forest Park, Illinois, home in July 2013 and drove across the country with her husband, Scott, and two cats, Kaspar and Lars.

You can send Stephanie fan mail at stephanie at stephaniekuehnert dot com (the at and dot are spelled out to avoid spammers, you know what to do...) She likes to hear from readers.