Author Interview: Kristen R. Lee, author of Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman

I am very excited to kick off February with an interview with Kristen R. Lee. Interviewing authors is one of my favorite things to do on Books, Tea, Healthy Me, especially when they write books that are both fun and itneresting. Let’s take a closer look at Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman before we meet the book’s autor.

Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman
by Kristen R. Lee
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers
Releasing on February 1st, 2022
Trigger Warning(s): Depicted Black-face scene, Racism

A striking debut novel about racism on elite college campuses. Fans of Dear White People will embrace this activist-centered contemporary novel about a college freshman grappling with the challenges of attending an elite university with a disturbing racist history–that may not be as distant as it seems.

Savannah Howard sacrificed her high school social life to make sure she got into a top college. Her sites were set on an HBCU, but when she is accepted to the ivy-covered walls of Wooddale University on a full ride, how can she say no?

Wooddale is far from the perfectly manicured community it sells on its brochures, though. Savannah has barely unpacked before she comes face-to-face with microagressions stemming from racism and elitism. Then, Clive Wilmington’s statue is vandalized with blackface. The prime suspect? Lucas Cunningham, Wooddale’s most popular student and son to a local prominent family. Soon, Savannah is unearthing the hidden secrets of Wooddale’s racist history. But what’s the price for standing up for what is right? And will telling the truth about Wooddale’s past cost Savannah her own future?

A stunning, challenging, and timely debut about racism and privilege on college campuses.


Kristen R. Lee is a native of Memphis, Tennessee. After graduating from college, she began to write her experiences attending a predominantly white institution, which led to the first draft of Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman. She’s worked as a mentor for foster youth and has interned in a school setting, where she counseled middle-school-aged children. Writing stories that reflect often-unheard voices is what she strives to do. Learn more about Kristen at

And now, a Books, Tea, Healthy Me excluive interview with Kristen R. Lee!

Is there something special about the book you are currently promoting that you want everyone to know? Your inspiration maybe? A fun hidden fact?

A fun Fact: The Character Mrs. Flowers in RRFTDF is homage to the Mrs. Flowers who helped Maya Angelou out of her bout of silence.

Where do you begin when you develop new characters? Physical characteristics, personality, plot? What comes first and how do you go from there?

I always begin with personality traits and then tailor their physical characteristics around that. To come up with the plot, I envision in my head what kind of life would this person have and go from there. During my first draft, I allow myself to not overthink anything. I just need words on the page. Nothing has to make sense.

What is your favorite part of the writing process? And your least favorite part? Why?

My favorite part of writing is drafting. It’s a freeing feeling to get words on the page. Even if they aren’t perfect (no first draft is perfect) but you’re getting the story that’s in your head and heart out and eventually that story is going to be whole. And that brings me to my least favorite part of writing, which is revising. Sometimes I can write myself into a corner and having to revise myself out of it takes awhile. In fact I believe that RRFTDF final copy was maybe my fifteenth draft.

If you were a kitchen tool or utensil, what would you be and why?

I would be a blender. I love mixing things together and coming up with new creations.

What book are you reading right now?

Currently, I am reading Ashes of Gold by J.Elle.

What do you do to keep yourself healthy? What is your #1 healthy lifestyle tip?

I take time out for myself. If I ever feel like I’m heading towards burnout, then I drop most of the work I’m doing and decompress. My number one healthy tip is to prioritize your mental health. Take that staycation, eat the piece of cake you’ve been craving, do a spa day. Whatever you’ve been putting off until things are “perfect” or complete. There’s never a good time like the present to practice self-care.

What is your go-to recipe when you cook at home?

Lately, I’ve been into quick and easy meals! Pasta is my go-to and I’ve even perfected creating my own tomato and cream sauces. It’s filling and allows me not to cook for a few days.

Thank you so much to Kristen R. Lee for being a part of Books, Tea, Healthy Me! Be sure to head out adn get your copy of Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman today!

January 30th

Turn the Page Tours – Welcome Post
Ruby Rae Reads – Review

January 31st

Infinite Pages – Review

February 1st

Books Tea Healthy Me – Author Interview
Struck by Stories – Review

February 2nd

Read with Carly – Review

February 3rd

Leann Reads Books – Review

February 4th

Inking & Thinking – Review
Confessions of a YA Reader – Review

February 5th

Kait Plus Books – Guest Post
Belle’s Archive – Review

1 thought on “Author Interview: Kristen R. Lee, author of Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s