How/when did you start writing poetry?
I began posting my poetry on Tumblr in late 2012, without any vision of what the future held for me as a writer. One of my first poems got a ton of attention overnight and was shared all over the internet, reposted by some Internet celebs (s/o Andrea Russett) who were kind enough to tag me, etc. I then grew an audience on both Tumblr + Instagram which led me to self-publish my first book due to the motivation of my followers. (Thank you!)
Why did you start writing?
I've had an interest in writing since I was little, which began with wanting to be a journalist in NYC (that dream quickly faded.) I was an editor on my middle school newspaper and yearbook, and often wrote stories on my laptop, only to abandon them after a few chapters. It wasn't until I was 16 that I discovered a love for creative writing/poetry. I watched the movie Like Crazy, where Felicity Jones reads this piece. I was mesmerized and inspired by the beauty of her words and wanted to learn how to create the same effect with mine. I can recite the piece from memory. That movie will always hold special meaning for me.
How did you self-publish your first book?
I researched online how to do it, contacted a few people i knew who'd already done it, and decided to go with createspace.com (now Kindle Direct Publishing), which allows you to self-publish at no cost (although they do offer some paid services) and posts your book for sale on Amazon, bn.com, etc. It's POD, so they ship the books as they are ordered straight from the printer. I did it pretty much all on my own (ex: figured out how to format it. I typed mine up on Pages but later learned that InDesign is much easier) and commissioned Laura Supnik to do the cover/illustrations. It was the ultimate definition of "winging it," but I'm so glad I did!
How did you get your book in Barnes & Noble?
I was contacted by someone on Tumblr from the Barnes & Noble team, who'd noticed that my book's sales were doing well on their website, and wanted to know if I was interested in having it sold in stores. At first I thought it was a joke (a fake account contacting me) but it was real! I signed a contract with them and they re-published Eighteen Years through their in-house printer (as Createspace's barcode was not compatible) to sell in stores. A literal dream come true.
How were you able to get a publisher to work with you?
I knew I wanted to go with a publisher the second time around, in hopes of furthering my career as a writer, but I wasn't totally sure how to do it. A lot of publishers don't allow unsolicited proposals. Thankfully, two agents from Folio Literary Management reached out to me via email, and got my book in the hands of the “Big 5” publishers. After lots of (nerve-wracking, but totally exciting) conference calls and negotiations, I decided to publish with Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. It all fell in to place kind of perfectly and I feel so lucky to have such an awesome team!
Are you in college?
Yes, I currently take classes online and am pursuing a degree in Studio & Digital Arts: Graphic Design with a minor in Creative Writing.
How do you pronounce your last name?
(Okay, not a frequently asked question but I sometimes see people mispronouncing it so I wanted to help you out.) It's pronounced "koon" like raccoon.
Are you still a Christian?
I get this question a lot because I was very outspoken in my faith online + through my writing. I've since had a change in beliefs and now consider myself agnostic, but spiritual. I will always believe in the love + acceptance of others without judgment, and respect any lifestyle that supports this.
What camera do you use/how do you edit your photos on Instagram?
Most of the time I use my iPhone X, but I also own a Canon Rebel T7i. I use VSCOcam to edit, and my most used filters are A4, A6, and M5.
What happened to the @firstname.lastname@example.org Instagram?
I deleted the account. I felt weirdly pressured and uninspired by it, and wanted everything to be in one place, on one account. It felt strange having myself divided into two accounts. Now, I just use @madisenkuhn and post poetry on there from time to time, as well as on Twitter.
How do you type up the poems you share on Instagram/Twitter?
Recently, I've been typing them on InDesign and then take a screenshot. I used to write them on Pages or Word and screenshot. There's really no difference. Sometimes I use the app “Unfold” as well.