Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Your upcoming memoir is a very personal story that balances between autobiography and inspirational guidebook for aspiring journalists. For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell your own story?
Hilde Kate Lysiak: This book is about my life growing up as a reporter and the lessons I learned along the way, and, hopefully, by sharing my story, other young people will feel empowered to pursue their dreams like I did.
BD: Your father is also a writer and journalist, having written Newtown: An American Tragedy. Did you often discuss your father’s work with him, and, if so, did these conversations prove to be beneficial to you either in understanding real-life tragedies or in helping you to find your own path in journalism?
HKL: In the beginning I didn't go out of my way to talk to my dad about reporting. He worked a lot and was traveling all the time on different stories. He would take me with him so we could spend time together. That is how I learned, by watching him. He was obsessed with his work and it was hard to not start feeling the same way about reporting. Once you get in, it becomes addictive.
BD: In having pursued journalistic endeavors for nearly ten years, what do you feel is the most important lesson that you’ve taken away from your work that you would want to pass on to others?
HKL: If you take yourself seriously, other people will take you seriously, too.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that your story will connect with and impact readers?
HKL: I learned some valuable lessons during my eight years of reporting and being thrust into the national spotlight at such a young age. One of the lessons I learned was about how our self-perceptions, how the way we view ourselves, can be shaped by those around us if we aren’t steadfast in our authentic selves.
The narrative the media created about me painted this picture of this prodigy child with a perfect life. But the reality was far different.
On the outside, my life seemed perfect. I had a four-book deal with Scholastic. I was being flown around the country to give speeches and a television show was made about my life.
But on the inside, I could feel something changing inside me. Something unfamiliar and dark. At first, the thought that I could be depressed struck me as stupid. But when I began to research, I was shocked to learn that not only was I not alone, but I was dealing with a growing problem that was literally killing my generation - especially teenage girls between the ages of 12 and 17 - who last year saw a fifty percent increase in suicide attempts. And that number is probably low, considering the shame attached to suicide.
My hope is that in telling my story I can help open up a conversation and maybe even inspire some who might have been going through what I went through to get help.