Thirteen was tough.

Seventh-grade bullies and parties. A mixed bag.

May 26, 2023

Hey all!

This week we tackled some questions you posted about Junior High! The graphic novel is out next week! We are SO EXCITED for you all to check it out. You can pre-order it here and or pick it up at your local bookstore, or order it online when it comes out. We have a handful of book events coming up, including a virtual event anyone can tune into! Below is a transcript of our video conversation about Junior High. Apologies for mistakes we missed!

Tegan and Sara

Thank you for reading I Think We're Alone Now. Please feel free to share this post with all your Junior High friends.


Tegan Quin 0:04


Sara Quin 0:05

And you can hear me. Wait, you can hear my audio okay?

Tegan Quin 0:08

Yes, I can hear you fine.

Sara Quin 0:10

Like the background noise is not too much.

Tegan Quin 0:12

No, I don't hear any background noise.

Sara Quin 0:14

Okay? They have the air conditioning running here and it's so loud.

Tegan Quin 0:20

Oh, no, I can't hear it. Okay. Hi. Hey, I've got some Junior High questions that came from Substack. And I just, I just sent them to you. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna start and then maybe we could just go back and forth. What do you think? Yeah. All right, the first question that was asked, which I thought was really interesting, but it was about asking if we have any footage or clips when we were in junior high, the way we did for high school. And if we're going to share any around the release of Junior High,

Sara Quin 0:55

I am certain that there is video of us from that time, and thank God it has not surfaced. I'd probably more worried about any video footage that would surface from junior high than I would from high school because I think by the time we got to high school, we already had a better sense of how we wanted to be perceived. Whereas in junior high, I feel like there's like, or at least for us when we were in junior high. It was like kids around us were much more provocative.

Tegan Quin 1:24


Sara Quin 1:25

Testing boundaries. Whereas like high school, it was like we were provocative and testing boundaries but we had already established what our sort of like, feelings about things were and kids in junior high, I feel like it was just I don't know, it was just a more ruthless time. Even in our yearbooks, like things that kids would write about each other. Like, it's just a meaner time. So anyways, I don't know if it exists, but I'm sure it does. Yeah, like we were still in karate, for example. And I'm quite certain there's probably video footage of us like competing in karate tournaments and stuff. Like it's just stuff that…

Tegan Quin 1:54

We don't need the world to see.

Sara Quin 1:56

Yeah, there's not enough self love in this world for me to go back to that time and look at it.

The next question asked about teachers and a time that you might have been put in an uncomfortable situation by a teacher.

Tegan Quin 2:10

As we got further into junior high, we got more and more alternative. And we were we wore really baggy clothes, we wore a lot of layers. We had huge chains in ninth grade that we would wear and the administration of our junior high at some point because a VCR had been stolen, outlawed baggy pants, because apparently rumor was that someone had stolen the VCR. By putting it in their pants. We understood it to sort of be not just kind of absurd that they would outlaw all baggy clothes. We also felt like it was sort of vaguely racist, although I don't think we use the word racist at the time, we mostly use the word stereotype. So we used to say like people got stereotyped that was sort of what was happening at that juncture of the early 90s. And so we felt that the rumor was that it was that the VCR had been stolen by somebody who was in a gang, which was like, again, thinly veiled language around racism. And so we organized a sit in. And so everybody in our grade and younger kids, too, we all went and we sat outside the office in the lobby of our or I don't know you the foyer of our junior high and signed a petition saying that we thought that it was stereotyping to outlaw baggy clothes. And because the kid who stole the VCR was white and wasn't even wearing baggy pants. So we were we were really outraged. And I remember it was mom who had suggested that as an act of protest, rather, because we had talked about walking out of school. And she said, Why don't you instead sit in front of the office. So I don't think it was one teacher but I just remember it was maybe a series of decisions made by adults that just made us all feel very uncomfortable, and forced us into a sort of political situation. And in the end, we are allowed to wear baggy clothes. That's what I remember. But in the end, I think it was a good exercise for us all to practice being socially minded being activist getting involved speaking our speaking our minds talking about difficult subjects, like it was it's a memory I have that actually in the end as a positive thing.

Sara Quin 4:16

It was totally like the the, the teachers had lost control of the student body. And then I remember after the sit in that I remember there was very specific teacher that I really loved who had been kind of like a hero to me, and she was like she was mad at me like she did not I left the school feeling like she hated me. And then when we came back the next year to try to visit the school as one does when they've moved on in life to high school. They want to come back to their junior high just to be kind of like an asshole. They locked the doors and told us to buzz off like they were like get away from the school like they were mad at us. Also that had something to do with the fact that we took acid at our grade nine year end party at Callaway Park and then the teachers reported We were all on drugs to our parents, and we all got in trouble.

Tegan Quin 5:03

Yeah, and none of this made it into our graphic novel junior high. But this leads into another great question that I really liked that I that I pulled down, which was would you release a more extended account of junior high as a fully written memoir, without graphics, where you could include more adult themes that is exclusively directed at an older audience? And yeah, I think like as we're exploring right now, there's tons of hilarious, sad, mortifying, embarrassing, complicated, more difficult topics that we skipped over in writing junior high, and that was sort of you and I just, we sort of had been under the impression we were sort of modernizing our story, because it is for a younger audience, and we wanted it to feel more relevant to them. And we didn't want to scare the young people. But do you feel like you would

Sara Quin 5:51

No, I think that we've, we've covered a lot of our childhood, I feel good moving away from it. I do think that some of these other ideas, and stories can be threaded into future writing and work that we do. But I don't have any intention of now like writing a memoir about junior high.

Tegan Quin 6:09

There was a great question that asked about middle school parties. If we wrote about parties in junior high. Can you talk about the party we wrote about for junior high?

Sara Quin 6:18

Yes, there is a party in the book. And it is loosely based off of our first co-ed party that we had in junior high was actually in grade eight, that we have the party and a lot of what happens in the book is a slightly fictionalized version of what happened at this Halloween party. And mostly it was supervised by our parents. So I acted as if I was very put out by the fact that our parents had to be, you know, around, observing, you know, supervising, but the truth is, is that a lot of the kids that we were newly friends with the sort of popular kids who were a little scary, you know, it was like day to day, I didn't know if I was going to be like, in their good books, or in their bad books. It was it was a little bit like of a really stress, it was like a stressful, treacherous sort of sort of social dynamic. And I actually, like loved that our parents were there. Well, specifically mom, because she was so cool, and youthful and hip, and it felt like a window into our life. That was it was sort of like a cosign. Like, all the popular girls were like, oh my god, your mom is so pretty and cool and smart. And she like says the F word. And I was like, exactly. So like, can you stop torturing me? And like, bullying me and like manipulating me. Like I wanted, I wanted them to see mom as the alpha. And then realize that they were like, on a different kind of, in a different power structure than they understood. And by fucking with me, they were essentially fucking with my mom. Like, that's how I remember thinking about it. Like, you know, take a good look like we have a jukebox and a framed U2 poster. And my mom, you know, has a perm, and is wearing red lipstick, like, you know, get fucked. That is not in the book. But you know, it's like, it's emotionally in the book, that we were proud in some ways of our house and our family, during a time where a lot of adolescents are rebelling against their house and their family. It was like, we still actually felt very safe and proud of all of that, and we were excited to bring everybody over and like show it off.

Tegan Quin 8:35


Sara Quin 8:37

Are there weird bullying stories?

Tegan Quin 8:39

I think in reality, all of the bullying that we experienced, and we're a part of as young people is pretty conventional, pretty typical. You know, kids can be mean, especially girls at that age. But I'm, you know, trying to figure out how to address bullying and how to soften it for younger audience was really fun, because we got to change the kind of bullying that happened and change the tone of the bullying. So I think there's some good, very funny, sweet version. So I guess it's kind of weird. It's weird to say things like, Oh, we made it sweeter or not as harsh in in junior high, but we still there's still that element. I mean, I think that you can't have a junior high story without having some sort of ostracizing and bullying of people. So but you said this recently, Sarah to like, which is just that like, I think in hindsight, you know, we saw ourselves as having been bullied, but we were a part of bullying too. You know, we were a part of a group of friends and condoned a lot of bullying that they did and were part of that and we also got into seventh grade and as soon as we were taken in by the popular girls ditched, you know, some of the girls we had started junior high with and that's a form of bullying to like leaving people out and, you know, so I don't think with junior high we wanted to address some of the more deeper meanings and lessons to be learned from bullying but we we still wanted that conflict to be in the story. It was fun. It's fun to write the bad guy. It was like really fun to write all the dialogue of the group of friends around little Tegan and Sara. And we pulled a lot from from friendships we had at that time and lots of funny bits and bobs came out. But um, yeah, it's it's a little bit lighter and a little less scary than it was in reality.

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