As we continue our week-long feature on I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan you may notice our abbreviation of the book’s title: INPYSE. That’s because Erin has written a book with what is quite possibly one of the longest titles ever. So sometimes we (a) get tired of typing it and (b) run out of room! Still, Erin has written a charming, delightful book and we’re thrilled to present our exclusive Q&A with her today. Thanks to Erin for answering our questions and to Christelle for organizing the interview!
There are a lot of life lessons in I Now Pronounce You Someone Else, but the one that stands out the most to me is about learning who you are as an individual. Why do you think this is so important for teens, and why do you think it is also one of the hardest lessons we learn growing up?
But I think, in healthy families, we start working out who we are as children when we begin to say no to things we dislike. Later, we develop tastes and interests that are honored even if they’re different from the so-called family norm. So that starts us out on the path to becoming who we are, and we hit that path running by the time we’re teens, expecting it to be good and fun and exciting. And parts are. But other parts are complicated, confusing and exhausting.
Self-discovery is just plain hard. We learn things we like and dislike about ourselves. Erm. We learn things we like and dislike about our families and friends. Ugh. And we very often have to reevaluate relationships or end them entirely. Sigh Some end organically because of the profound differences that develop as we grow into ourselves, and this is particularly painful to teenagers for two reasons.
1. They’re new to this process and likely weren’t expecting anything so bad as the end of friendships to come from the very good work of self-discovery.
2. It confronts that universal fear of being alone, which many of us had to go through as teens when we came to the realization that we were very different from the group we thought we’d belong to forever.
Really – this is hard for everyone.
The subject of a teenager getting engaged while still in high school can be prickly, but it never feels that way while reading INPYSE. What elements do you think make it work in this case? (In the story, that is?)
Thank you for saying it’s not prickly. I can think of 4 reasons for that:
1. Bronwen is not an idiot. She’s one of the smartest girls in her class.
2. She comes from a good, upper-middle class family. They’re wacky, even
troubled, but still decent.
3. Jared also comes from a sound, financially secure family.
4. Jared, at least, approaches this logically – maybe a little too logically. Yes, he loves Bronwen, but he also graduates from college, lands a good job and understands he can afford to get married, which is endearingly old fashioned. Can I say endearingly about my own character? Oh, he’s endearing to me!
In reading your bio, it’s clear that you drew from some of your personal experiences while writing about Bronwen. So tell us … do you have some deep-rooted hatred of ketchup? And what’s up with that, anyway?
Hee-hee! Yeah, I have some condiment issues but ketchup and mustard issues most of all. I don’t like them, and I’ve never liked them, and to this day I am not someone who can eat what she dislikes just to be polite – if, for example, it is served to me at a party. I get this from my paternal grandmother who attended college in the days of campus dining rooms when attendance was mandatory and servers brought you whatever the cooks made that day. I delighted to Grandma’s stories of sitting at the table eating crackers for dinner when the whole school was served oyster stew. She wouldn’t touch it and would go to bed hungry. And that’s me. It’s got to be genetic. I’d rather go hungry than eat what I dislike.
Of everything teens can draw from after reading INPYSE, what do you think is the most important? What do you hope readers take away from it?
It’s been so interesting to read all the reviews of INPYSE for this very reason. Readers are taking a bunch of different things away from it, so I’m hesitant to tell them what they should apprehend. I really like hearing the assorted perspectives.
If you met someone in a book store and they were thinking of buying your book, what would you say to convince them?
What question do you always wish someone would ask in an interview?
Oh, I almost started typing it, but I happened to glance down and saw I’d have to answer it, and I can’t. It would just be wrong in the spirit of, “If you can’t say something nice, definitely don’t say it in print.”
Now answer that question.
… *crickets chirping* …
Novel Novice Flash Questions:
If you could trade places with one person for a single day, who would it be & why?
Sophia Hawthorne. I have a crush on her husband, Nathaniel.
What was the last movie you saw?
Casino Royale on DVD.
Frost-Nixon in the theatre.
Biggest TV addiction?
True crime shows
True crime shows
Fruits or veggies?
Back to not being able to eat something to be polite, I can’t answer this easily. Which fruits and which veggies? I’ve got a whole texture rule going on, too – in addition a flavor rule – that I haven’t even begun to explain, so some fruits, some veggies is the best I can do.
I have never sung Karaoke and never will. I don’t sing Happy Birthday in a group. That’s how horrible my singing is.
Favorite childhood toy?
My older brother, David. When I was little, he was even better than puppies and kittens! Now he comes right after kittens, which come after my husband, Tim.
Thanks again to Erin! Tune in tomorrow for her exclusive guest blog!