Interview with Stephanie Esterline - Teen Author of "This Girl's First Car"
Stephanie Esterline is your average 17-year-old high school student with dreams of college and a career. What makes her a little bit different is that she is hoping to have an automotive career! She has been learning about cars from her dad for years and instead of keeping all that knowledge to herself, she wrote a car maintenance book for teens! Ask Patty interviewed her on her book and her automotive career aspirations.
ASK PATTY: What made you decide to write a book about car maintenance and tips?
Stephanie: Well, I've always loved to write, and my dad thought it would be a good idea to write something small to learn about the publishing process. He came up with the topic of car maintenance for teenage girls, so I got to work. I thought it was a great idea because my dad has been teaching me how to take care of my car ever since I started driving, but a lot of girls don't get that opportunity. This Girls First Car makes it easy to understand how to take care of a car, and then if an emergency ever comes up, the book is right there to refer to.
ASK PATTY: Do you think teens get a bad rap for their driving skills?
Stephanie: Yes, but that's because a lot of teens really are bad drivers. Most of us can drive fine, it's just a few that are totally inconsiderate of others. However, there are rude and inconsiderate drivers of every age group, not just teenagers. Also, most teenagers tend to drive like their parents. If the parents drive fifteen over the speed limit, run red lights, and cut people off, their teenager will probably be just like them. But, if the parents are cautious on the road, their kids will see that and realize that it is important to be careful when they are driving.
ASK PATTY: What is one of the most important tips you give in your book?
Stephanie: I don't think that there is one thing that's more important than all the others. It's best to have a basic idea of how to take care of a car. If your battery dies but you only know how to change a tire, that doesn't do you much good. However, if you know where the battery is, and you have a pretty clear idea about how to change a tire, you're twice as prepared for an emergency. The best thing is to gain a basic idea of everything by skimming over the book, and then toss it into your glove box for when it is needed.
ASK PATTY: Do you think the average teenage driver knows enough about car safety and maintenance?
Stephanie: No, I do not. Some teenagers know a lot about cars, but many of them don't even know how to open the hood. Even a lot of adults don't have a clue about what they should do in an emergency. Often times, big problems are very easy to prevent, (such as an engine seizing from lack of oil), but the drivers don't have any idea of how to prevent them.
ASK PATTY: What do you love about your Saturn? Is there anything you would change?
Stephanie: I like that my car is a stick shift. It's fun to drive and made for an interesting ride when I was first learning. There are a few things that I would change. It's a used car, and the people that had it before me didn't take very good care of it, so it's pretty dirty. There are some stains that absolutely will not come out, and it smells kind of funny, but other than that it's a good first car.
ASK PATTY: If you could build your dream car for women, what features would you put in it?
Stephanie: If I could design a car that I thought most women would love, I'd probably start with a 2008 ZO7 Corvette (they look really cool), and it would have silver diamond paint that sparkled in the sunshine. It would have dark gray leather interior, with an automatic vacuum system that cleans the carpets on it's own. Both the seats and the steering wheel would be heated. The windows would have automatic tint, depending on how sunny it was, and there would be a special holder over the mirror for mascara, powder, etc. There would be a special spot to plug in an Ipod or MP3 player, and there would definitely be a GPS system for when we are headed to a far away mall. On the dashboard would be a special place to plug in cell phones so that you could talk on speakerphone without having to hold it. Also, along with the central air knob, there would also be scent choices, instead of having to buy air fresheners, you just push the button and it would come out of the vents. Because cars seem to be the biggest trash collectors in the world, somewhere towards the center of the car would be a garbage incinerator, and the smoke would just come out with the exhaust. Also, the exhaust would be much cleaner so if you happened to walk behind your car while it was running, you don't smell like exhaust for the rest of the day.
ASK PATTY: What is your dream car?
Stephanie: I would love a car like the 2008 Corvette, but if I had to pick one that was actually affordable, I have always wanted a silver Jeep Wrangler. Ever since I was little I've wanted a Jeep, but I'll have to wait until I get a better job so I can afford it.
ASK PATTY: Have you ever considered working in the automotive industry?
Stephanie: Actually, yes. Not in the mechanical field or anything, but I would love to work in car design. I like the artistic part of cars, how they are shaped and all the different visual characteristics. I think it would be a really fun job to help with the design of new automotive models.
ASK PATTY: After high school, what are your plans?
Stephanie: I'm not quite sure yet. Currently, I'm looking at different colleges, but I haven't been able to find one that I really like. I'm going to apply at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan, but I don't have any definite plans as of now.
Stephanie Esterline is the author of This Girl's First Car: Teenage Girls Guide to Safe Car Care and Easy Maintenance Tips. She is a senior at Grosse Ile High School in Grosse Ile, Michigan, and drives and repairs her own 1999 Saturn SC2. She has varsity letters in tennis and track and a 2006 MVP in tennis. Her book has been featured in Ile Camera, Downriver News Herald, Teendriving.com and Ask Patty!