Ask the Author: Robin Reul
What would you like readers to know about you?
I have wanted to be a writer since I was in elementary school. Growing up, my father was a film producer and a studio head, which meant I would be pulled out of school three to six months a year to travel on location with him. Often I was the only kid, so reading and writing stories became a source of entertainment. Books back then didn’t seem as issue-driven, mostly stories about romance, parents getting divorced, or going off to summer camp, so I wanted to write stories that dug deeper – the kind of stories I wish I’d been able to find on the shelf then.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
MY KIND OF CRAZY is about a boy named Hank Kirby whose promposal to his crush goes very wrong when he sets up sparklers on her lawn spelling out PROM and ends up lighting her yard on fire. He almost gets away with it except that there’s a witness – Peyton Breedlove – a budding pyromaniac who thinks that Hank is a kindred spirit and blackmails him into an unusual friendship. I have a new book coming out May 2021 called THE DAYS BETWEEN, which is about two teens at a major crossroads in their lives, with a lot on the line for both, who end up on a spontaneous road trip seeking answers.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
My inspiration for MY KIND OF CRAZY draws from a very special friendship I had when I was a teenager. I struggled a lot with depression and I had a friend named Alex who reached out to me and invited me to come with her to her youth group, which was her private thing away from our high school crowd. She was an incredible friend to me, and when we were seventeen she was killed by a drunk driver and I was naturally devastated. For years, I looked for how to tell the story of the kind of friendship we had that offered light in the darkness, the kind of friendship where you help carry each other when you cannot carry yourself, but I didn’t want it to follow the details of our actual friendship because honestly, that story was very dark and depressing. I found the perfect vehicle in Hank and Peyton and their connection while still honoring that piece that felt so deeply personal.
For THE DAYS BETWEEN, I again drew upon real-life circumstances. At the time, my son was graduating college and trying to figure out his life and my daughter was getting ready to graduate high school and my father passed away. That rattled all of us to the core, and aside from dealing with deep grief, it also brought up a lot for both my kids as they struggled with feeling as if the careers they were pursuing were truly their passion vs. how much was feeling like it was a way of connecting with their grandfather on some level. It opened up the question of how much we really owe anyone else and what we owe ourselves, which plays out in different ways for both my main characters.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
I love humor, so in MY KIND OF CRAZY my favorite scene is definitely when Hank puts on a disguise and sneaks into a strip club. In THE DAYS BETWEEN, there is a scene with mannequins that literally makes me laugh out loud every time I read it.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
Growing up, I was all about Judy Blume and Norma Klein, because their characters were relatable teens with real-life problems. I draw a great amount of inspiration from authors like John Green and Sarah Dessen on the YA side and Tara Jenkins Reid and Jonathan Tropper on the adult fiction side, as well as John Hughes films like The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles or Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise trilogy. In fact, I would have to honestly say I am more inspired by films even than books. My writing is very dialogue-driven and cinematic. I tend to see scenes played out like movies in my head as I am writing them.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
First and foremost, know that writing is a process, so don’t get discouraged. All first drafts are crappy, and it is through revision that your story evolves and changes. I would recommend attending writing workshops and developing a network of writer friends who you can exchange work with for feedback. Read everything you can in the genre you are interested in writing for, as you can learn a ton about what makes for good writing by reading both great AND bad books. The process of writing and rewriting, looking for an agent and trying to sell a book to a publisher can take years, so be patient with the process. Considering it takes two years generally from the time a book is purchased until it hits a shelf, there really are no “overnight” success stories. It is all about patience, being open to feedback and criticism, and a willingness to really dig in and do the hard work. Most writers I know have multiple books in drawers that will never see the light of day, so if not your first book, maybe the next one! The key is to keep writing and not give up.
You can also contact me via my website at www.robinreul.com.
You can find my books at Amazon or Barnes and Noble or your favorite online bookseller.