By Charles Petty

Kristin Mahoney loves a good story and how it can positively impact the lives of others. Mahoney, now an author with local roots, has been publishing books for middle grade school children in the hopes of helping them learn some life lessons and hone their love of reading.

Mahoney was born in Philadelphia but moved to Sanford when she was five, attending Warren Williams Elementary, W.B. Wicker Elementary, West Lee Middle, and Lee County High School — all schools which helped shape her as an author.

“I always loved writing. When I was 10 I knew,” she said. “I loved Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. My Sanford teachers helped to foster my love of reading and writing.”

Her breakthrough book, “The 47 People You’ll Meet in Middle School” was a hit among children ages 9 to 13. Focused on a young lady named Gus trying to navigate the changes she faces in middle school, it was published in 2019 and drew praise as not just a great story, but also a resource for young people.

Kristin Mahoney’s first book, “The 47 People You’ll Meet in Middle School,” was published in 2019. Source:

“What this novel’s target audience want is reassurance, which Gus’s confused yet consoling voice provides in spades,” read a New York Times book review.

Mahoney’s childhood friend, Mandi Baggett, now teaches in Cary and loves her friendship with Kristin and the way her books inspire children.

“I’m so proud of her and all that she has accomplished,” Baggett said.

Mahoney said she finds the beauty of other people’s stories not just compelling, but worthy of being written down. In a thesis project while she was in college at Lafayette in Pennsylvania, she did a report on the oral history of Sanford, interviewing locals and turning their narratives into stories. This theme has continued throughout her career.

Upon graduation, Kristin moved to New York City and landed a features editor job with the magazine McCall’s. After the magazine folded in 2002, she taught in the New York City public school system and eventually married and moved to Hackensack, New Jersey, where she currently lives.

Once her younger daughter started kindergarten, she began work on “The 47 People You’ll Meet.” She says she was inspired by being able to write for an audience that’s in a stage of life that’s memorable for so many.

“Middle school age is such an interesting time,” she said. “You are experiencing so many new things and learning so much.”

A theme that permeates her work is making awkward situations transitional. From the spill of a milk jug in the lunch room to an embarrassing classroom presentation, these moments can be used beyond the moment of “inspiration from awkwardness – lemonades from lemons. Something that may be awkward and embarrassing at the moment may later prove to have a special lesson attached to it.”

“Annie’s Life in Lists” and “Elfie Unperfect” are among her other recent titles.

On top of writing and raising a family, Mahoney is a reading specialist in a town near her home. She is working on a fourth novel and hopes her writing career will continue to inspire others who are considering becoming authors.

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