My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Pre-Order: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Indigo |
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.
Praise for My Kind of Crazy
“MY KIND OF CRAZY is for everyone who felt they never fit in and weren't sure that they wanted to.” –Eileen Cook, author of Remember and What Would Emma Do?
“Hank Kirby will steal your heart, Peyton Breedlove will set it on fire, and then together they’ll mend the pieces.” –Shaun Hutchinson, author of FML and Violent Ends
“MY KIND OF CRAZY is my kind of read, and Reul, the best kind of writer.” –Gae Polisner, author of The Summer of Letting Go and The Pull of Gravity
“Funny, authentic, and, at turns, heartbreaking.” – Jessi Kirby, author of Things We Know By Heart
“A sensitive look at two teens with complicated histories learning to build a future together.”–Kirkus
Robin Reul has been writing since she was in early elementary school, when she used to make her own book club flyers for her classmates and then pen them original stories. Though she grew up on movie sets and worked for many years in the film and television industry both as an actress and in motion picture development, she ultimately decided to focus her attention on writing young adult novels. She likes to write the same kinds of stories she loved as a teen: the ones that give her with butterflies in her stomach and are filled with quirky, memorable characters who stay with the reader long after the story ends. When she’s not writing, Robin can be found singlehandedly driving up the profit margin of her local Starbucks and indulging her love of baked goods, particularly those in the key of pumpkin. She lives in Los Angeles suburbia with her husband, son and daughter.
How were you asked to prom?
Robin: There was definitely no elaborate promposal involved. Back then, promposals weren’t really a thing. I went to a really small high school (my entire class only had 52 kids in it!) so pretty much everyone went whether they had a date or not. My date and I went with a large group of friends so it was more like a “Hey, let’s all go do this, it will be fun” sort of thing. My date spent the better part of the evening hiding out to avoid dancing, which was fine by me because truth be told, while I have many talents, dancing is not one of them.
Which of your characters do you identify most with?
Robin: There is definitely a piece of me in every character in this book, but the one I probably identify with the most closely is Hank. He reminds me of who I was in high school. He tells himself stories that he convinces himself are true, he uses his humor as a coping mechanism but there is so much going on beneath the surface. He has the best of intentions but can’t ever seem to catch a break. He feels completely beneath the radar. However, he’s far more of an optimist and far more hopeful than teenage Robin ever was.
When did you know that you wanted to become and author?
Robin: I have been writing since I was about three years old. My first story was called “The Cat And The Dog Who Were Friends” and I dictated the story to my mother and I drew the pictures. During my elementary school and early teen years, I would spend hours holed up in my room writing novels and short stories, and when I was thirteen I had my first meeting with an editor, Refna Wilkin, at Putnam Publishing. Though publication would not come for many years, it was a love that began at an early age, though it took a hiatus through my teens and early twenties. I worked in film and television production after college, where I had the opportunity to learn about story and dialogue, and ultimately went through the UCLA Screenwriting Certificate Program and wrote my first screenplay. I first started writing young adult novels about six years ago because that feels like the natural niche for the stories I want to tell.
What has been the most memorable moment for you on your journey to becoming an author?
Robin: SO MANY! But I don’t think any will ever beat my recent experience taking part in the Ontario Teen Book Festival in Ontario, CA. I got to moderate two panels with amazing authors like Jay Asher, Marissa Meyer, Jessica Brody and Kristin Halbrook to name a few. My publisher made a special arrangement to have my book available for sale there three weeks ahead of its publication date, and it sold out. Getting to see teens holding my book, asking me to sign it, taking pictures with me, hearing people so excited about reading it…..there are no words. I will never forget that day for the rest of my life.
Are any of your characters based on people that you know?
Robin: Not directly, no. However, the essence of the story – the connection between these two young people and how they help each other move forward – comes from a piece of my past that I hold dear to my heart. When I was seventeen, I was pretty troubled, and I had a friend who reached out to me and just got me in a way no one else seemed to. She helped me through a really dark time. She left this earth too soon, but that bond between us remained and I’ve long been looking for a way to tell that story. I’ve always felt like what stayed with me from that profound loss and its aftermath was something I wanted to pay forward. Not the details of the loss necessarily, but how powerful certain connections can be and how they can shape you and help you find light in the darkness and reconnect you to life. The story found its voice in Hank and Peyton.
What was the hardest thing about writing MY KIND OF CRAZY?
Robin: During about the midpoint of the book, a pipe sprung a leak in our kitchen and we had to rip up the entire downstairs. I was forced to move my computer upstairs into my son’s room and write every day with workers in the house and a soundtrack of drills and saws and somebody else’s music choices blasting below my feet. I prefer to write in absolute silence, so this was truly a challenge to learn how to tune in so deeply to my story that I could write through a hurricane if necessary. I’m easily distracted, but it forced me to call upon how much I really wanted to write this book. Additionally, based on the story I shared above, writing this book meant sitting with that time in my life again. I wasn’t sure how that would feel or if it might prove to be too difficult. In that sense, it scared me. But once I did, it was like visiting with the best parts of that time, and gave me a chance to rewrite my own history.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
Robin: Chocolate. And coffee. And then something salty followed by more chocolate. But seriously, I find sometimes the best way to help jog my brain when I hit a wall is to read other books that are similar in subject matter to mine. Not only does it help me know what not to write, because there is nothing worse than coming up with an amazing idea only to find someone else did too, but sometimes it can help spin an idea in a new direction. I learn so much from other people’s writing. I think the key is to know when you need to walk away and allow yourself to, trusting that the answer will come. It always does. You can’t force it. Creativity cannot be shut on and off like a light switch.
Was there any scene that was taken out during the editing process that you wish made it to the finished product?
Robin: No, how lucky is that? In fact, the scenes in the book are virtually intact. Most of the editing and revision we did involve strengthening characters or clarifying and expounding details. The only thing that actually changed was the ending. There is a line in the beginning of the book where Hank is talking to Nick about Kyle Jonas, this guy at school who makes his life a living hell. Nick says his Dad owns a fish market and suggests he leave dead fish in the guy’s car. At the end of the story, Hank does just that. I thought it was great until I saw the trailer for “Paper Towns” and remembered why I thought that idea was so funny – because John Green had apparently thought so too. I’ll chalk that up to “great minds think alike.” So, of course, I immediately changed the ending, and I love this one so much more. I think it’s much more honest and realistic.
What would make you stop reading a book?
Robin: When I can see through the writing. I once got a rejection letter for an early manuscript of mine that called it “overwritten.” I had no idea what that meant but now that I do, it stands out to me. It’s when every little thing is spelled out and nothing is left to the reader’s imagination. It’s when you are completely taken out of the story by the way it is written rather than become so immersed you can’t out it down. I usually know that in the first 20 pages tops. If I don’t connect, I move on.
What would you like your readers to take away from My Kind of Crazy?
Robin: Never underestimate your value to someone else’s life and never let anyone determine your self-worth.
Brittany: I hope you guys enjoyed this interview! If you haven't seen it yet, you can read my review of My Kind of Crazy Also, check out the giveaway and excerpt below! ^_^
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.
I’d read online that how you ask a girl to Prom can completely make or break a guy’s chances. I wanted to do something special that Amanda would never forget. Apparently it worked, just not the way I intended. ‘Use sparklers to spell out PROM’ the article on the Internet said. There was even a picture with them all lit up on the ground. Totally idiot proof.
I snuck into her yard like a ninja under the cover of darkness and tried to jam the sparklers in her lawn, but the soil was hard and unyielding. I looked around, desperate, and then I spied a nice soft patch of mulch underneath the cedar tree near the side of her yard. It was perfect, and the sparkler slid in easily. A few minutes later, I had them all lined up just like I’d seen in the picture, and once they were lit, yelled, “Amanda!” I actually had to call out twice because she didn’t hear me the first time. Then she came to the window and gazed down as the sparklers fizzled down to the ground and--boom!
Turns out that was fresh pine mulch underneath that cedar. Pine trees produce turpentine, so I might as well have lit those sparklers in a pool of gasoline for how quickly the mulch caught fire.
I didn’t know what to do, so I ran. Which is why I’m now hiding behind a bush across the street in her neighbor’s yard. This is definitely going down in history as the most epic promposal fail ever. And then, as if things couldn’t get more catastrophic, they do.
Baseball is practically a religion where I live in South Coast Massachusetts. People take their Red Sox pretty seriously, and the die-hards decorate their trees with red and blue streamers every season in a show of support. The Carlisles are no exception. And it doesn’t take long for the flames to catch and race the length of those ribbons into the dry branches above.
From where I’m crouched down, I have a perfect view of the Carlisle house. I can see Amanda’s eyes widen and her jaw drop open as she observes the quickly escalating situation in her yard. She pulls away from the window, I’m guessing to call the fire department. We should probably talk about Prom some other time.
With things clearly going south, I do what any sensible person would do: I get the hell out of there. Of course, a sensible person wouldn’t have put sparklers in a pile of fresh mulch directly under a highly flammable tree. Hindsight is 20/20.
So in the most casual way possible, I hook my backpack - which is loaded with empty sparkler boxes - over my shoulders, hop on my bike, and pedal away from the scene at what I hope passes for a normal speed. Cool as a cucumber, that’s me.
I reason for a brief moment that, perhaps, Amanda didn’t actually see me there. Even if she did, she doesn’t know me all that well so she might not recognize me. I am wearing black jeans, and my Batman hoodie conceals my medium-length, stick straight brown hair, so I am sort of camouflaged. Not to mention, those flames were pretty distracting.
The fire station is about five streets away, near the library. I start to worry that the firemen won’t get there fast enough and Amanda’s whole house might burn down. I know I’m a lame-ass chicken shit for hightailing it out of there, but the last thing I need is Dad on my case for something else. As far as he’s concerned, I can’t do much right. I would like to say he’s just being an asshole, but lately I’ve been wondering if he’s onto something.
I consider turning around and heading back to Amanda’s, which would be the right thing to do, but I swear I’m about to piss myself with fear so I pedal faster, listening for the sounds of approaching police sirens. For good measure, I jerk my bike off the main road, cutting through the back alleys toward home.
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