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Between Two Lockers With Stephanie

Our other new FYA reviewer chats about her love of classic YA, things named Winchester, and the importance of breakfast sandwiches.

Between Two Lockers With Stephanie

Earlier this year, we ran a Between Two Lockers special series featuring your fave FYA writers and contributors. (Peep the announcement.) Since April, a few new contributors have joined FYA HQ, so we’re bringing the series back to give you a chance to get to know them, too!


What’s your name?

Stephanie Johnston

Where are you from/located?

Originally from New York, now in Orlando, FL.

What do you do when you’re not writing for FYA?

Right now we're moving into our new house, so packing and house-projects feel like my second job! But what I actually get paid for is being an Educational Advisor at a college, where I help students figure out their career paths, get the right classes, and stay in school.

What do you look like?

Where can you be found on social media?

The only social media I update regularly is Goodreads.


How long have you been writing for FYA, and how did you start writing for the site?

I've been a part of FYA since July! They put out the call for extra reviewers earlier this year, and I applied with every expectation of not being chosen, but I am so honored that I was! I've been a faithful reader of the site for long time, and these ladies are the real deal.

How did you come to read YA as an adult?

I don't think I ever stopped, to be honest. I couldn't devour books fast enough as a teenager, and even while I was in college I was still reading things like The Hunger Games in between Elmer Gantry and The Portrait of Dorian Gray (English major, if you couldn't tell). I went through a chick-lit phase for a little while, but in my last year of school the Twilight series was ending, I was working in a bookstore, and popular YA was suddenly A Thing in mainstream's eye, so there was no shortage of excellent books to dive into.

Why do you think YA is an important genre, for both actual Ys and those of us who are more A?

I love that anything goes in YA! It is the broadest of terms for such a diverse selection of books, both in style and character.

When I was a teen, YA gave me chance to experience events outside of my little life, yet also brought the realization that there are so many people out there that think the same way I do, even though we may look completely different or come from completely different worlds. I think getting outside of your own little community-bubble is so, so important to teens, who, on the whole, can be pretty self-involved. (That's not a diss. I cringe at some the whining I did in my teen-years journals. We've all been there.)

Now as an adult, I love that the undertone of many YA books is one of hope and possibility. I don't ever want to forget the wonder of discovering something new in yourself, or in a new love/heartbreak, or in a new world.

What are five of your favorite YA books?

How can I chooooose? In no particular order:
- Harry Potter series by JK Rowling (I mean, how can you not?)
- Immortals Quartet by Tamora Pierce (I can't wait to do Book Reports on these!)
- The Belgariad series by David Eddings (If you love high fantasy and snarky characters, you will enjoy this, I promise.)
- His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (I think this series' ending is the first time I realized, as a young girl, that a book could undo me.)
- Daughter of the Forest / Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier (Her work is so beautifully written!)

Do you have a favorite YA character or couple? If so, who are they, and why are they The Best?

One of my favorite couples from the last few years would be Elisa and Hector from the Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson. It was a slow-burning, naturally-building romance, where both characters were equals and there was mutual respect and real obstacles preventing them from being together. Basically every time Hector and Elisa were together in a scene, I was fanning myself from the hotness.


If your real life adolescence was a YA book ... What would you, the main character, be like?

I'd be the shy, snarky one, uncomfortable in her own skin, clinging to the sidelines lest she be forced to do any kind of public speaking.

Who is your secret crush?

The popular boy in choir who I never got the courage up to speak to (see: clinging to the sidelines), until I realized later that I SHOULD'VE been focused all along on the slightly-geeky but super-snarky boy in choir with whom I could comfortably joke with and who always found excuses to sit near me. (But then I moved away! Nooo!)

What is your number #1 source of angst?

Feeling like the “fat” girl, yet being too lazy to actually do anything productive about it (procrastination is still my life-long struggle).

At what point would the reader pump his/her fist in victory?

When I start college at sixteen, finally get out of my comfort zone and get involved in student leadership, where I end up meeting most of my current-day good friends, including my future husband and brother-from-another-mother BFF.

And who would play you in the film adaptation?

I feel like Emma Watson or Tatiana Maslany could do my story justice.


What is your #1 favorite food?

Sausage, egg, and cheese sandwiches. I will eat them anytime, not just for breakfast.

Tell me about your area of expertise.

I've been called an Excel guru around my office. I'm also great with trivia and pop culture facts, and I am an excellent packer of boxes. (I would welcome the chance to never practice this skill again, however.)

If you could assemble your own Ocean's 11 of fictional characters, who would you pick?

We're going with an all-ladies version of Ocean's 11:

1) Hermione Granger (Harry Potter) - for her research skills
2) Inej (Six of Crows) - for her all-around awesomeness
3) Daine Sarrasri (Wild Magic) - for her ability to get the animals in on our cause
4) Myfanwy Thomas (The Rook) - for her accounting skills and ability to manipulate people's bodies
5) Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) - for her ass-kicking powers and droll comments
6) Kami Glass (Lynburn Trilogy) - for her wit, to keep us laughing, and investigative prowess
7) Clarke (The 100) - for her motivating speeches
8) Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles) - for her mechanical genius
9) Katsa (Graceling) - for her ability to survive (surely that'll bring us all luck) and ass-kicking skills
10) Annabeth Chase (Percy Jackson) - for her smarts and warrior-spirit (and I feel like she and Hermione would work well together)
11) Sydney (Alias) - for her spy capabilities (and wig collection)

What is your best karaoke song?

You're never going to see me doing karaoke by myself (again, see: sidelines) so if I was up there, it'd be for a duet, and that duet would be "Baby, It's Cold Outside" because I love that creepy-ass song.

Tell me something scandalous!

I used to steal stickers from my teacher's desk when I was in kindergarten. Wait, that's not scandalous at all, let me try again: I once lied to my parents about sleeping over a friend's house and drove out to Daytona Beach with my boyfriend and our friends in the middle of night. It became less fun when we had to sleep four people to a car, but the sunrise on the beach that morning was beautiful. (Yea, sorry, I suck at scandalous, apparently. I'm a rule-follower by nature.)

What is your favorite adult beverage?

I love a good gin and tonic with lime, a well-done mai-tai, or a sweet and bubbly moscato. Also, if anyone has a good recipe for a Wallaby Darned (a peach/champagne concoction) from The Outback that I could make at home, you and I will become best friends.

What is the most crucial snack food and/or movie/or anything you'd bring to an FYA slumber party?

I'd bring chocolate and peanut butter cups and an extra pillow, because who likes having to crane their neck to watch the movie?

What book have you read the most number of times?

Probably The Incarnations of Immortality series by Piers Anthony. I've read them about 6 times since I first discovered them when I was a teen.

YA authors are so cool. Who would you give a BFF charm to?

Meg Cabot! She seems so fun in her books that I have to believe that translates to real life And, bonus, she lives in the Keys, which is not too far away from me! (I promise I don't stalk you, Meg.)

Out of all of the characters you’ve read, which one do you most wish you could be?

I feel like Hermione has a pretty awesome story arc, overall. I'd be smart, a witch, have great friends, be in love, and get to go along for the adventure, but never as the one who has a bulls-eye on their back. Win-win!


Stephanie made three picks for each category, and I added a fourth. The magic number (chosen by a random number generator) was 4.



Neville Longbottom
Jamie Fraser
Dean Winchester
Paul Rudd (as himself, because he's just adorable)


The Red Keep
District 13




Screenplay editor (with the power to fix dumb plot holes)
Organizational Consultant (with the power to get rid of clutter)
Writer for an Amy Poehler TV show (with the power to make people laugh)
YA book blogger


Paid in wishes
4.6 million dollars

Paid in puppy cuddles


Colby, North Carolina
Stars Hollow
Prince Edward Island


An elephant
Winchester, my actual (amazingly awesome) dog
A magical talking cat
A magical talking horse


Chauffeured limo
Baby, the Impala from Supernatural
The DeLorean
The Pig from The Raven Cycle

Do you have additional questions for Stephanie? Or maybe just want to comment on something particularly awesome that she said? Head to the comments!

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.