First time authors come at you with ‘Hot Mess’

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oung readers in Brooklyn looking for something to add to their summer reading lists can look no farther than Hot Mess: Summer in the City, a new book out by first-time authors Julie Kraut and Shallon Lester.

Hot Mess revolves around the adventures of teenager Emma Freeman, who travels to New York with her best friend from high school for the summer for an internship. Her expectations for a glamorous, “Sex in the City”-style three months are deflated as she discovers she is stuck doing actual office work while her friends spend time partying and dating boys.

“We both really wanted to write a funny book,” said Kraut. “A lot of it is based on our experiences at summer internships, moving to the city, getting lost on the subway. It’s something we both have definitely been through.”

Kraut, who works in marketing at a publishing company, and Lester, a gossip columnist for the New York Daily News, geared their book towards a younger generation of teenage women readers who grew up watching “Sex in the City” and reading The Devil Wears Prada, but with more humor of the everyday experiences of working and having a social life in New York City.

The authors met each other while writing for the humor site, CollegeHumor, shortly after moving to New York after graduating from their respective colleges. The writers, two of the only women contributors to the website, began sharing their writing and developing the characters for a juvenile fiction book based on their past experiences working in the publishing and media industries.

“I loved her writing and thought she was hilarious,” Kraut said. “Definitely no complaints. We worked on the outlines together, wrote different chapters, and we edited each other’s work. We were very lucky.”

For Kraut, the experience of being an author was significantly different than she had anticipated, even though she has worked with authors on the marketing side of her publishing company for the past few years.

“Editors really do make everything so much smoother,” Kraut said. “We would get our copy back with lots of suggestions. I got used to constructive criticism quickly.”

Since their their book release on May 13, Kraut and Lester have had a whirlwind of readings and appearances in bookstores throughout the city. Several blogs have been posting encouraging comments about the book and Seventeen magazine recommended it as a summer beach read for its readers.

“It’s been a great experience. It’s been really fun reading that people are reading about it. My friends and family have been so supportive,” said Kraut.

On June 14, the authors will come to Brooklyn for a reading at Bookmark Shoppe (8415 3rd Avenue) where they hope to connect with more teen readers.

"I'm so pumped to have readings in Brooklyn,” Kraut said. “In my humble opinion, I think all teens will be into Hot Mess. But because the book is set in the city, I do think there's something special if you're a New Yorker reading the book. And of course Brooklyn is a great venue when you're talking about NYC born and bred teens."

Kraut, already at work on her next book, Slept Away, about a teen attending summer camp, understands that young women are facing a lot of stress to get admitted to college and secure internships in competitive industries. She hopes her book helps readers understand the universality of those experiences and not take things too seriously.

“It’s a difficult time for a lot of young women and we wanted to add a dose of humor for women going through the experience of just growing up,” Kraut said. “Now the pressure is even more magnified.”

Julie Kraut and Shallon Lester will be hosting a reading for Hot Mess at the Bookmark Shoppe at 4 p.m. on June 14, located at 8415 Third Avenue. For more information, call 718-833-5115.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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