Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Symptoms of My Insanity Blog Tour (Q&A with Mindy!)

Hey, everyone! Another awesome blog tour is stopping at Watercolor Moods today, courtesy of Penguin and YA Books Central. Writer, comedy performer, and musician Mindy Raf is making her YA debut with The Symptoms of Our Insanity. In case you don't want to make a detour at GoodReads to find out more, here's a summary:

A laugh-out-loud, bittersweet debut full of wit, wisdom, heart, and a hilarious, unforgettable heroine.

When you’re a hypochondriac, there are a million different things that could be wrong with you, but for Izzy, focusing on what could be wrong might be keeping her from dealing with what’s really wrong.

I almost raised my hand, but what would I say? “Mr. Bayer, may I please be excused? I’m not totally positive, but I think I might have cancer.” No way. Then everyone at school would know, and they would treat me differently, and I would be known as “Izzy, that poor girl who diagnosed herself with breast cancer during biology.”

But Izzy’s sense of humor can only get her so far when suddenly her best friend appears to have undergone a personality transplant, her mother’s health takes a turn for the worse, and her beautiful maybe-boyfriend is going all hot and cold. Izzy thinks she’s preparing for the worst-case scenario, but when the worst-case scenario actually hits, it’s a different story altogether—and there’s no tidy list of symptoms to help her through the insanity.
 Now, I don't know about you, but I think YA needs some more laugh-out-loud titles on the shelf. I mean, your teenage years (and your twenties, for that matter) are some pretty angsty times. Sometimes, you just need to find something to smile about. That being said, I definitely need to make a slot of time for this one! 

Mindy has actually agreed to answer my (intrusive) questions for our session today. I hope you enjoy them - Mindy's quite the character! (In a totally good way.)

So is any of Izzy based off you?

I think Izzy and I share a lot of broad-stroke similarities. We’re both a bit neurotic, self-deprecating in our humor, and tend to focus on others more than ourselves at times. I’m sure there’re parts of me in other characters as well. Like Alyssa (Izzy’s sister)—I’m a terrible driver and I would probably be the one giving Izzy tips on clothes and make-up.

As I was writing, some scenes felt very ‘Mindy-like,’ and others as if Izzy led me off in her own direction. The relationship between Izzy and her mom is a good example. Even though it’s very different than my own, I did draw on a lot of my own experiences with my mom being sick.

Oh and unlike Izzy, I’m terrible at art. In fact, my worst grade ever was from my Studio Survey Art 101 class senior year.

Ouch. Well, how did you get into writing from being a comedian?

I write all the material I perform on stage, so I was always a comedy writer. I got into writing YA through stand-up. I met my editor Jessica Garrison at one of my shows. She randomly caught my act, we chatted a bit after, and then she reached out to me about writing YA. I think the fact that I was already writing comedy pretty consistently made it a natural transition.

That's a pretty cool transition! So what do you love most about writing YA?

I love writing and reading YA. There are so many fun and scary places you can take a story when you’re dealing with a brain that’s kind of still under construction.

What I love writing most is dialogue. I think when teenagers—and adults too—are trying to figure out who they are, they alter themselves ever so slightly depending on their company. I love the challenge of trying to bring out all the different degrees of a character through conversation.
What are some feel-good hilarious titles you can recommend?

I loved and still love Judy Blume. FOREVER, ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, MARGARET. When I re-read her books I get into such a teen place and pumped to write. I recently devoured ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS and LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins. Her books get you into such a yummy, swoony, teenage crush, I-want-to-make-out-for-the-first-time-again place. WHAT’S UP WITH JODY BARTON by Hayley Long was a really fun and original read. Sarah Dessen’s THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER, is super feel-good and so well done. Oh so many more, but I’ll stop here. 

Yay, thanks for the recommendations! Okay, one more question...if you could go back to tell your teen self anything, what would it be?

Don’t waste time and energy worrying about what other people think. You’re great, just be YOU. Get out of your head, relax, and enjoy yourself a little more. Oh, and stop wearing those snap-crotch body suits. That’s just wrong.

Mindy Raf is a writer, comedy performer, and musician based in Brooklyn, NY. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, and grew up in a Detroit suburb right around here (visualize someone pointing to the inner part of their thumb). She has written for VH1 and The Symptoms of My Insanity is her first novel. 

Thanks so very much, Mindy! And to our wonderful readers, be sure to follow along with the rest of the blog tour for more Mindy awesomeness (including some embarrassing high school memories - FINALLY, an author dishes the dirt!). 

Tomorrow: Mindy gives us a sneak peek into a Symptom character's playlist at Through the Looking Glass.  

And what would a blog tour be without a giveaway? Head over to the YA Book Central blog and enter for a chance to win 1 of 5 signed finished copies of The Symptoms of My Insanity!


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