Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Stephanie Kuehn Takes The Dare

For this week's guest post April Tucholke dared author Stephanie Kuehn--whose debut book is set in a boarding school--to tell a wild story from her own private school days.

Bio: Stephanie Kuehn holds degrees in linguistics and sport psychology, and is now working toward a doctorate in clinical psych. When not reading, writing, or madly cramming for an exam, she can usually be found outside, playing with her family. Stephanie lives in Northern California with her husband, three kids, and many, many animal friends. Her young adult debut, CHARM & STRANGE, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in 2013. You can connect with Stephanie on twitter or her website. She also blogs for YA Highway.

And the story:


 Okay, so I was asked to share an embarrassing boarding school story. This should be easy, I thought, but now, as I sit down to write I realize there are so many embarrassing stories I could share. Like the time I heard through the gossip grapevine that a senior boy had a crush on me. Said boy also had chicken pox at the time, and even though I’d never had the pox (and still haven’t had them to this day), I went and visited him in the infirmary. Yes, I sat there in a cloud of his scabby germs and attempted to flirt, only to learn the following day that he’d been talking about “a different Stephanie.” Sigh.

However, the story that haunts me to this day is one that’s perhaps more shameful than embarrassing. See, boarding school isn’t all that different from any other kind of prep school—you have a large group of achievement-oriented teenagers who, during their free time, kind of just want to go crazy. Only at boarding school you live with your teachers 24/7, which means you’re accountable to school rules 24/7. This leads to a lot of sneaking around.

The school I went to was known as an “artsy” school. This meant, first and foremost, that we were bad (really bad) at sports. It also meant that the other schools around us thought we were weird. And, in fact, we were kind of weird. Case in point: the two boys who started the school “Bingo Club.” Every month or so, these guys would get on stage during our boring morning assembly and stutter through some lame-sounding announcement for a Bingo Club meeting. They’d talk about how fun the club was. And how they liked to play other games too, like Uno and Connect Four and Pictionary and Risk. Then, basically, the whole school would laugh at them. But what a lot of people didn’t know was that the Bingo Club announcements were actually weird-boy code for “we’re throwing a huge off-campus party this weekend.

Well, usually these parties were held at day students’ houses, but on one occasion, the Bingo Club decided to throw a “camping” party. “Bring tents!” the boys said. “There’ll be a keg!” “Tents?” we wondered. “Camping?” This seemed odd since the school was located in the Boston suburbs, but the boys assured everyone they’d “found the perfect spot.”
So, here’s the shameful part: In order to go to the party, my friends and I told our dorm parent that we were staying at a local girl’s house. We had the girl’s mom call in and give us permission to sign out of the dorms overnight. Then later, we called her mom back and said we weren’t coming over after all. Since we’d already been signed out, this gave us the freedom to…stay out all night at the party.
But alas, everything went horribly awry. The “perfect camping spot” turned out to be “private property,” and the cops showed up at the party in record time. We were hauled in and handed over to the school for discipline. And because the school had a serious honor code, my friends and I got in trouble, not for being at the party, but for lying to get out of the dorms. That lie earned me a (well-deserved) weeklong suspension!

Thanks for amusing us the heck out of us with your bad girl ways, Stephanie.

So...which is your favorite boarding school book?

1. Prep
2. Catcher in the Rye 

3. Looking for Alaska
4. Harry Potter
5. Jane Eyre
6. Paper Covers Rock
7. Dreams of Significant Girls
8. A Separate Peace
9. Jellicoe Road
10. The Bruno and Boots series

Or movie?

1. Halloween H20*
2. Rushmore
3. The Covenant*
4. School Ties
5. Scent of a Woman
6. X-Men
7. Dead Poet's Society
8. She's the Man*
9. The Emperor's Club
10. Cracks**

*Did you pick one of these? Awesome. Please defend it in the comments.

**Which boarding school books/movies did I miss? 

Next up: Natalie Whipple. Send her truth and dares here. If you are a published (or soon to be published) author, sign up to guest post with us.


  1. So crazy how you actually went to boarding school, Steph! And your bingo story would have made for a perfect "night-gone awry" YA book :) Thanks for sharing! I'm lame, so I haven't read or seen even half of those. By default, I'm picking HP and DP'S. I want to say The Covenant, though, just because it has Taylor Kitsch in it (I'm pretty sure it does, anyway).

    1. Elsie, I can't believe you didn't pick She's the Man for your favorite flick. It has Channing Tatum. It's based on a Shakespeare play. It's was nominated for 7 Oscars. Okay, one of those is a lie, but I'm telling you. Cinematic masterpiece.

  2. Thank you for having me, guys!

    And my film choice was H2O...partly because LL Cool J was so darn handsome, but also, when I saw it in the theater, I really thought it was the end of the franchise. As a huge fan of seventies and eighties horror flicks, it felt like a satisfying end (they brought Jamie Lee Curtis back!) to the series. Of course, it wasn't really the end, but at the time, I enjoyed it.

    1. I love Rushmore. That said, Laurie Strode would destroy Max Fischer in a fight. If we care about such things. And we do.

      70's horror was bril. Suspiria, Exorcist, Wicker Man, Young Frankenstein (it counts!), Jaws, Carrie, Dawn of the Dead, need I go on?

    2. No, you just named all my favorites. Particularly The Wicker Man and Suspiria. Love!

    3. Also Alien. I forgot that piece of brilliance. What a decade. Of course, none of these movies had LL Cool J, or Josh Hot-nett, so...

  3. Looking for Alaska has to be my favorite. And ooh, don't forget The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks, by E. Lockhart and The School for Dangerous Girls, by Eliot Schrefer. And Hex Hall, by Rachel Hawkins. And The Name of the Star, by Maureen Johnson. And Holly Black's Curse Workers series.

    Hmm. . . I guess I've been reading a lot of boarding school books lately.

    1. That E. Lockhart book was awesome. Boarding school books rule.

  4. Hmm...Harry Potter is hard to argue with. Especially because Hogwarts as a building is incredible. I mean, who can argue with headless ghosts and the Pink Lady? ;)

    Great post and awesome embarrassing story, Stephanie. What a rebel. ;-)

    1. Thank you! And I agree...Harry Potter is wonderfully epic. I still want to go to Hogwarts!

  5. The reason I wish to read Harry potter book because I love the life of boarding school and reading books is my hobby. Plus the book sounds so very cool!!
    Thanks for the great giveaway!!!
    boarding schools

  6. Merci
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