THE SHORT BIO:
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 contributing writer for ROOKIE, an online magazine for teenage girls. Stephanie lives in Seattle with her husband and two cats.
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, one of which 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.
To support herself after the release of her first two books, Stephanie worked as a bartender at the Beacon Pub in Forest Park, Illinois, a newspaper columnist for the Forest Park Review, and a teacher of creative writing at Columbia College Chicago and StoryStudio Chicago.
In 2011, Stephanie was invited to contribute to the online magazine for teenage girls being launched by Tavi Gevinson: ROOKIE! Stephanie still regularly contributes essays about her angsty teenage years and gushing reviews about stuff she loves to ROOKIE. She's honored to have been a part of such an important publication since its beginning. She has also been a cotributer to Jezebel and Ms. Fit, a feminist fitness magazine.
Stephanie's next major writing project is a Young Adult zine-style memoir. Inspired by her work for ROOKIE and drawing from her own teenage zinester days, Stephanie captures her coming of age experience from the geeky third-grader who struggled to find her place after moving from a working-class city neighborhood to a middle-class suburb to the angry 16 year-old who took solace in Riot Grrrl music and zines after an abusive relationship to the twenty year-old trying to get a handle on everything after dropping out of college and drowning herself in alcohol.
Stephanie left her Forest Park, Illinois, home in July 2013 and drove across the country with her husband, Scott, and two cats, Kaspar and Lars. They now live in Seattle, Washington where they do a lot of hiking that is documented on Stephanie's Instagram and "Seattle Writer Girl" Tumblr and Stephanie writes, teaches at Hugo House, and works in higher education at a local university.
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.