Robin Reul was nice enough to stop by and talk about her debut YA novel, My Kind of Crazy.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for love?
I turned down the female lead in a movie. I was in the 10th grade, and I went through a brief period where I was really interested in being an actress. I was friends with an actor by the name of Dudley Moore, whom my father had worked with a few years before (my Dad was a film producer), and we were still in touch. A director friend of his was looking for a fresh young face to star as the lead in his upcoming film and Dudley recommended me. I auditioned and was offered the part, which would have been fantastic except for the part where I had a really serious boyfriend whom I was crazy about, and I would have had to leave to go on location a month before school got out.The thought of leaving him to go to Chicago for three months was total overwhelm to my sixteen year old brain, because let’s face it – being apart for three months when you’re sixteen and in love might as well be three years. So naturally, I did what any lovesick teenager would do when faced with potentially leaving her high school boyfriend vs. starring in a major motion picture opposite a notorious Hollywood bad boy: I passed. Turns out right around the same time I would have gone, my boyfriend broke up with me anyway. Who knew? *le sigh*
How glad are you that promposals weren’t a thing when you were in school? And what would your dream one be?
Ha! SO glad this was not a thing when I was in school. My Prom was pretty awful actually. The only person who liked to dance less than I did was my date and he spent most of the Prom hiding out in the bathroom so that he didn’t have to, but, I digress…Because I am a sucker for all things 80’s, my perfect Promposal would most likely involve someone standing on my lawn with a boom box and Peter Gabriel blasting “In Your Eyes”. If he could pull off spelling out Prom on my lawn and manage not to set it on fire that would be completely fantastic. Or if he could sit me down on top of a dining room table with a cake between us that spelled Prom while blasting The Thompson Twins song “If You Were Here” I’d be totally down with that too. I’m a romantic, so any gesture that showed time, effort, and knowing what I love would definitely make me want to say yes! Of course, then he’d find out I couldn’t dance. ;)
What was the inspiration for My Kind of Crazy?
Like everything I write, I come up with characters first and story second, because often the more I get to know the characters, the more the story they belong to reveals itself. I knew I wanted to write a book about a unique friendship between two teens and their struggle to move past their life’s circumstances and help each other find the light in the darkness. In my own life, I had recently been dealing with a lot of that personally, and I learned that love and family and friendship truly have the ability to carry you when you are sometimes unable to carry yourself. I also knew that the things that happen to us are part of our story but not our whole story, and sometimes we need to be reminded of that so we don’t get lost. I knew this was something teens could relate to, but I just needed to figure out the way to tell that story. I knew I wanted it to be humorous and hopeful despite the seriousness of what is at stake, and then one day, Hank showed up in my head. I ignored him at first, actually, because I was busy rewriting an entirely different project, but he wouldn’t go away so one day I gave in and I wrote the entire first chapter in one afternoon and I knew I’d found the voice. I thought the idea of a kid who can’t seem to catch a break nearly setting a girl’s lawn on fire while trying to ask her to Prom could be pretty funny. Then I took it a step further: What if there was a witness? And what if she happened to be a budding pyromaniac?
Can you share the first paragraph?
“So here’s the thing. It’s not like I woke up this morning and said, “Hey, I think I’ll light the 100-year-old Eastern Red-cedar tree in front of Amanda Carlisle’s house on fire today.” Because I don’t know about you, but when I wake up, my mind doesn’t go straight to arson. Honestly, the first thing I focus on is how fast I can get from my room to the bathroom without my dad’s girlfriend Monica trying to chat me up while I’m awkwardly standing there in my boxers.”
If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be and why?
There’s a wonderful book my mother bought me when I was young that I treasure called IF YOU’RE AFRAID OF THE DARK, REMEMBER THE NIGHT RAINBOW by Cooper Edens. According to its summary, it is “a book of advice for a variety of situations, including what to do if the sky falls, the bus doesn’t come, the sun never shines again and there is no happy ending.” It reminds us, in the toughest of times, to use our imagination. It has been a source of comfort to me more than once in my life, encouraging me with its inspiring messages and beautiful illustrations to look at life through a different lens. We all get so locked into our thinking, and this book reminds us with childlike simplicity to leave our minds and hearts open to the possibility that anything is possible.
What are your top five books?
THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson, SWEETHEARTS by Sara Zarr, WINGER by Andrew Smith, GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray, WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green and David Leviathan. (Asking me to limit to five is like asking me to pick just one favorite flavor of cupcake.)
What 2016 releases are you excited for?
Oh wow, there are SO many amazing ones coming out next year. Top of my very long list includes SUFFER LOVE by Ashley Herring Blake, DON’T GET CAUGHT by Kurt Dinan, SOUTH OF SUNSHINE by Dana Elmendorf, SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN by Jeff Garvin, THE FIRST TIME SHE DROWNED by Kerry Kletter and THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS by Marieke Nijkamp. All I can say is 2016 may be the year I need to buy another bookshelf.