Dear Teen Me from Author Nikki Loftin (THE SINISTER SWEETNESS OF SPLENDID ACADEMY)

Okay, Teen Nikki. I know your little secret.

Teen Nikki!

You’re fifteen, and you think nobody knows what you do when you get off the bus and sneak into the house, alone.

But I know. And I know you’re ashamed of it.

So… by the power of Grayskull, I expose you!!!

That’s right. You watch He-Man and the Masters of the Universe every day after school. (And you spend WAY too much time hoping He-Man will hook up with The Sorceress. It’s just not going to happen. Go read a romance novel or something. Jeez.)

You also get up on Saturday mornings and watch The Smurfs. And the Transformers. And SO MANY MORE.

You can say it’s because your little brother wants to watch these shows, but you know you’re lying. He doesn’t even like the Smurfs that much. And most of the time, he’s not even in the TV room.

He-Man!

If your friends knew, if your BOYFRIEND knew… they’d think you were a nut job. Let’s just get this all out in the open: you are acting like a kid. A little, cartoon-loving kid.

And it’s totally okay, by the way.

Because, Teen Nikki? You may be a junior in high school, but you’re almost two years younger than the other kids in your class. And while that may not bug you much, it’s meant that for your whole life, you’ve had to act more mature than you really are. And sometimes, that’s really sucked.

Sometimes, you’ve wanted to act your age.

The Smurfs.

But life sort of took that from you. Between the whole “too young” thing, and now, living though the Divorce Years (oh, so fun) – it’s been hard to find time to be Kid Nikki.

So, you know what? I’m not going to give you any more grief about the cartoons. I won’t even tease you about the dolls you still play with when you are positive no one’s looking.

Old Lady Nikki!

Who am I to judge? I’m still right there with you, reliving our missed childhood in my own ways. See, I write middle grade books – books for kids younger than you. For the kid you were, when you didn’t exactly get to be a kid. Every day, I go to my computer (oh, Lordy, please ignore Mom’s advice and take typing, I’m BEGGING you as I write this letter with only five fingers, like a tiny, literate T-Rex), and I write stories that come from that place.

I nurture the child that I was, that you were. I tell stories for Kid Nikki. I still remember exactly how it felt — how I felt, looking down at small legs and arms in that big mirror, like Alice in Wonderland — thinking, I’ll never grow up.

You never do grow up, not really. And your inability – or refusal – to let go of that childhood feeling turns out to be a good thing. It helps in the writing of books for kids, and poems for anyone, in staying hopeful and joyful later on in life, and in parenting the two wild boys that will come along.

Oh, yeah. The coolest thing is this: you’re going to have two boys of your own, ones who want you to watch cartoons with them ALL THE TIME.

Best. Excuse. Ever.

Stay young,

Old Lady Nikki


Razorbill, August 2012.

Nikki Loftin lives with her Scottish photographer husband just outside Austin, Texas, surrounded by dogs, chickens, and small, loud boys. Her middle-grade novel, The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, will debut on August 21, 2012. You can visit her online at www.nikkiloftin.com.