For most Princeton students, senior year is a hectic blur of job-hunting, thesis research and figuring out what life after graduation will look like. But alumna Suzanne Raga ’11 spent her last year at the University working on an e-book for music-loving tweens. Her book, titled “YOU ROCK! How to Be A STAR Student & Still Have FUN,” offers study tips for academic success and will “put the cool back in school,” according to its description. Raga spoke with staff writer Kathy Sun on Thursday about the writing process.
Q: What motivated you to write this book?
A: My inspiration for writing the book came from both my own high school experience academically and also my experience throughout middle school and high school playing drums in my pop/rock band. In the book I’m sharing my experiences and also sharing the tips and strategies I’ve picked up along the way.
Q: How do you hope your book will influence your readers?
A: “You Rock!” is a fresh approach that uses music to excite and connect with middle schoolers and high schoolers. Basically, my goal is to help them be successful, happy students. My mission is to help kids realize that they can achieve academic success without completely stressing out and being miserable. This is where the title comes in — they can rock school and still lead a fun, balanced life. There’s really no need to study flashcards while brushing your teeth, for example, unless you find that fun and enjoyable for some reason.
Q: Were any life experiences particularly influential in your decision to write the book? What inspired you to write it specifically during your senior year?
A: Every year at Princeton is very demanding — academically, socially, extracurricularly — but senior year was particularly challenging in terms of taking classes, having the thesis and, also, doing the job search. Also, I was writing my thesis on the digital book publishing revolution, so that definitely played a role and inspired me somewhat to publish it as an e-book. But in terms of the actual content of the book, just having the thesis reminded me of APs and college applications — and having to balance time like that.
Q: Did writing a book during your senior year in the midst of your thesis pose any particular hurdles, or did you find it a good break from the grind?
A: I think it was therapeutic. It was fun, also, because it’s not like I was writing a book about some academic, esoteric topic. I was sharing and trying to help kids who are younger than me. The fact that it’s about music and draws parallels with playing in a band made it fun for me.
Q: What kind of responses have you received so far?
A: I’ve gotten a great response so far. A lot of my friends, who are obviously older than the target audience of the book, have said that they wished that they had had the book while they were going through high school. Another response I’ve gotten is that some of my friends have said that their younger siblings would definitely love it. Also, it seems to be a pretty timely topic with the Tiger Mom controversy a few months ago and the topic of stress among students at Princeton and high schools across the country.
Q: Based on your experiences writing your first book, how do you envision your future as a writer? Does the book relate to your larger, long-term goals?
A: I’m definitely open to writing more books. For the past two years I’ve written for my music blog, “After the Show,” so I get to write a lot of posts for that, which I really love to do. Right now I’m living in New York City and pursuing internships at different music companies around here. With any job that I have, writing would have to be a big part of it because I love to do that. But I guess we’ll just see how the response is to this one first.