When Kristen Hare moved to Tampa Bay, her son was 5 and her daughter was 2. She and her husband thought it was a temporary move, and instead of focusing on putting roots down, they aimed to “live like tourists in the place where the rest of the world vacationed,’’ she said. Fast-forward six years. Hare, 41, has a third-grader and a sixth-grader and is celebrating the second edition of 100 Things to Do in Tampa Bay Before You Die, her book on the place she now calls home. A graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Hare is on the staff of the Poynter Institute and also writes for the Tampa Bay Times. On Nov. 9, she will be a featured author at the 2019 Times Festival of Reading.
What’s on your nightstand?
I am currently reading The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan. It is in the Percy Jackson universe. It is part of his Magnus Chase series. Magnus is a homeless teen who dies valiantly. My son is in sixth grade, and he and I are both adjusting to life in middle school. We have loved Percy Jackson books for years. They taught me about Greek gods. I read the Kane Chronicles, which taught me about Egyptian gods. His writing is fabulous. I love all the characters and how inclusive they are. It’s not just about one kind of person. Reading him helps me remember what it is like to be in middle school. It helps me have more empathy for kids and what their lives are like right now. Everything in middle school feels so very big, and the stakes feel very high. I also have Love That Boy by Ron Fournier. This is a true story about him taking his son to study the U.S. presidents. His son has a form of autism, and Ron was a reporter covering presidential politics. I met him a couple weeks ago. Anything that helps me be a better parent at this phase is what I really want to absorb. I also have the third book in the Magnus Chase series ready to go.
When was the first time you read Rick Riordan?
We got the very first Percy Jackson series easily five years ago. I think I got them for my son to read.
I like how you answered that. It’s like you might have bought the books for yourself.
I love young adult fiction. I think it is just vibrant. It has to do a little bit with working at the Poynter, working in the news. I just want to take a break, to escape. These kind of books are challenging and rewarding without feeling painful.
Since you have read a lot of Riordan, have you noticed any changes in his writing?
The thing I noticed in the Magnus Chase series is an increasing awareness about representation. I don’t know if that’s my own awareness or is his as an author. One of the things I love about this particular Riordan series is the character of a Muslim girl who has a hijab that is used as a magical weapon. I think it is so healthy to have people see themselves in the books they read. The Magnus Chase series to me feels a little bit more grown up compared to Percy Jackson. It’s like with Harry Potter, how the books each get a little darker.