If you were particularly angsty as a teen (i.e., a human), there’s a good chance that you endured some form of a Winona Ryder phase. Maybe the color of your wardrobe got progressively darker after each viewing of Heathers, or maybe you just reblogged that GIF of Veronica Sawyer gnawing on a Twizzler as many times as is socially acceptable before seeming like a total psycho. Regardless, Kathleen Hale relates. Not only is she the author of No One Else Can Have You--a novel about Kippy Bushman, a small town teenager who takes it upon herself to investigate the murder of her best friend--and dozens of ridiculously good essays, but she happens to be an avid Noni fan, as well. Ryder’s dark influence shows up not only on her blog, but also in her impressively realistic depictions of moody teen girl-dom. I talked to her about the connection between her work and her muse, because there’s no one more qualified to talk about the reigning Queen of Teen Angst than a YA author.
First Winona Movie: Mermaids
Favorite Winona Movie: Girl, Interrupted
Least Favorite Winona Movie: [Long silence]
Favorite Winona Quote: “Please, God, don’t let me fall in love and want to do disgusting things.” (Mermaids, 1990)
How old were you when you first discovered Winona and what drew you to her?
I was probably 6 or 7 when I saw Mermaids. I liked the oddball threesome of women [Ryder, Cher, and Christina Ricci] and how, in that particular movie, she becomes obsessed with Christianity. She just wants a passion and chooses one randomly. Winona has a particular presence and, like any good actor, can capture a character who would seem hokey in a text and make her real and relatable. Also, she was very pretty, so that drew me to her.
Which Winona movie was most important to you as a teenager?
Edward Scissorhands. When I graduated high school, I got the poster laminated and brought it to school with me. It was a time that I was learning about love and wanting love, and the movie is sort of the ultimate love story. Just the idea of wanting to hurt the person you love, since he literally has scissors for hands.
Do you still feel a connection to her, or is your love more just a form of nostalgia now?
I definitely still feel a connection, but it’s kind of a combination. She’s one of the most talented actresses I can think of right now. I don’t still revisit her movies in the same way--like I don’t still watch Edward Scissorhands once a year--but I’m still interested to see what she does next. I’ll reblog stuff about her on Tumblr mostly because each GIF or screengrab from a movie will remind me of the time in my life that it was important. The love is unwavering, but I was connected more deeply in certain periods of my life.
Winona was one of the first mainstream figures to truly normalize teen angst in girls, which is something that comes up in your writing. Do you think that your appreciation for her has had an influence on the way you represent that?
Her characters have definitely had an influence on that. She plays characters that are a bit fringe in terms of their moods and the way they are gendered--specifically how a lot of them are boy crazy, but tough or smart, but vulnerable--which inspired me creatively as a girl and now as a woman, or whatever. What seems fringe doesn’t mean it’s not universal or relatable. She’ll play a female character who’s serious and stern or ditzy and a cheerleader. You can be boy crazy and smart or ditzy and serious. Her characters skew toward what I view as normal for what weird people are actually like.
Who else did you look to to assuage your angst as a teen?
Lucille Ball. I just love her.
Pretty recently, the culture of teen girls on the internet, particularly things like the blog Sad Girls Guide and the Twitter account so sad today, has become rooted in the same sarcasm and self-deprecation that defined a lot of Winona’s characters. Do you think this attitude is one among the many trinkets of 90s nostalgia on the internet or is just how teens are and always have been?
I think it’s a combination of the two. When I was a teen in the early 2000s, the 80s were cool. There’s always that thing that’s like “I feel like an outsider right now so I can only like what was cool a really long time ago”. I think that her characters are really relatable and timeless. Teen girls know who she is and when I was a teen I would get excited about girls and women who strayed from the norm. Winona never really fit into any stereotype--she was an outsider, but not sad and lonely. It’s a well-rounded depiction of teen identity.
If No One Else Can Have You were turned into a movie, who would Winona play?
Kippy. Why not. I don't care how old she is. Winona can do anything.
You can find Kathleen Hale at kathleen-hale.com and on Twitter.
Annie Fell is a sophomore Writing for Film and TV major from the Chicago suburbs. She is a fan of John Waters movies, dogs with short stubby legs, and all carbohydrates.