How (I Wish) I Spent My Summer Vacations (Brenda Hiatt)

     Who among us never had to write the dreaded “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” report in school? I usually hated writing those, because my summers tended to be pretty boring, at least in terms of what would be interesting to other people. My main summer memories were usually of books I’d read and make-believe games I’d played (well past the age most kids gave up make-believe). So I’d usually fall back on some trip my parents and I took to see boring historical markers and maybe a quick book report or two. 

    That said, I loved summers as a kid, even if my activities didn’t make for great stories I was willing to tell my classmates. Long summer evenings outdoors playing hide-and-seek or the above-mentioned make-believe games, long rainy days inside with a book, bike rides, impromptu picnics, the rickety carnival that came to the nearby strip mall parking lot every year… Good times.

Anyway. Because I write teen fiction, when I thought back to writing those how-I-spent-my-summer reports in school, I started wondering what kind of reports my characters might write. Because, needless to say, their teen lives are a lot more exciting than mine ever was! Not that they necessarily started out that way…


For example, if my Starstruck series main character, Marsha, had written about her summer at the start of her sophomore year of high school, it probably would have read a lot like my own. Hanging out with her two girlfriends, swimming in a local pond, reading a lot, walking to the nearest ice cream shop for milkshakes, that sort of thing. But if she’d been told to report on her summer at the start of her junior year, it would have been a very different story!


Though now that I think of it, most of what she did over that summer between tenth and eleventh grade was so secret, she could never have told her teacher or classmates about it. Instead, she probably would have concocted a narrative about her cover story—the one where she’d allegedly spent her summer recovering from a bad car accident in an Irish hospital. True, she really did go to Ireland—briefly—supposedly for a study-abroad program. But instead of getting into an accident, she actually continued on to…Mars. For the whole summer. Where a whole lot of things happened, both good and bad.


If Marsha were allowed to tell anyone about it, that summer’s activities would have made for some pretty exciting reading. At least, I’d like to think so, since her experience there makes up the last half of Starbound and the first half of Starfall, books 3 and 4 of my series. LOL! I won’t go into detail here, since that would involve spoilers, but let’s just say I sure never had a summer like that! 


But that’s one of the best things about writing teen fiction—getting to vicariously share with my characters the kind of adventures I’d have loved as a teen! The good parts, anyway. The other parts, well… I do tend to put my characters through hell before they get to their happy endings. But what stories they could tell afterward! 


What was your favorite thing about summer when you were in your teens? Tell me in the comments!


Brenda Hiatt is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the award-winning
Starstruck series, each book packed with sparkling romantic adventure!


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