Today, I am beyond honored to kicking off the official blog tour for Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley. I’m a huge fan of Corey’s work (and yeah, okay, a friend, too!) — and his latest book just may be my favorite one of his yet.
We have a pretty great interview with Corey to kick things off, and I’m offering up a SIGNED copy of his new book to one lucky contest winner — so be sure to keep reading through for all the details.
Solomon was first, but it didn’t take long at all for Lisa to pop up like the Lady Macbeth without the murder she is. Haha.
I think HIGHLY ILLOGICAL BEHAVIOR does a wonderful job of opening up the conversation about mental illness — not just what it’s like to experience, but how to approach it if someone you know is suffering from it. What do you hope readers take away from the book as a result of this?
Those two things, really. And that mental illness is nuanced and complicated and VERY personal and individualized to every person suffering from it—so much so that I believe this is what keeps the ignorant stigmas of mental illness so prevalent, even today. So, any conversation about it is progress, but I hope my readers, especially young ones with mental illness or who are exposed to it, will empathize with all of the character in the novel so we can all continue that conversation together and figure out the best way to make sure no one ever feels the need to hide away.
Where do you hope the public discourse on mental illness goes from here? How do you think HIGHLY ILLOGICAL BEHAVIOR can help shape that discourse?
Oh goodness, well, my previous answer speaks much to this, but I want to say that, first and foremost, I’m a fiction writer. And I say that because I don’t want to ever claim to be an authority on anything other than the specific imaginary stories I create for massive consumption. That being said, I knew writing about mental illness in this way was taking on the responsibly of talking openly about it and I’m happy to do so and add whatever insight from my personal experiences with anxiety and from researching and writing this book that I can. If HIB can do anything to shape the discourse on mental illness, perhaps, in my best hopes, it could push young and old readers alike to talk about their mental illness with others where they may have otherwise stayed silent and gotten worse.
Sure—I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder about ten years ago and, until 2014, was able to deal with the occasional anxiety attacks and stress caused by it. But, a few weeks before my tour for Noggin, I found myself in the middle of a terrible anxiety episode—where I was having frequent panic attacks that ranged in severity. It was scary and eye-opening and, for the first time in nearly a decade, I had to decide what to do about my mental illness.
So, after getting into therapy (and after a very stressful, but still great Noggin tour), I decided to write HIB and further explore and understand mental illness in that way. It really became the most effect therapy, I must say. It didn’t cure me, of course, and I have a psychiatrist and medication to help control my anxiety now, but when I was writing this book, I wanted to make it as personal as I could while still saying something bigger about mental illness and outsiders to it.
Your publishing experience has been a whirlwind! I remember first talking to you before WHERE THINGS COME BACK was published, and since then, you’ve won the Morris and the Printz, and been nominated for the National Book Award. And published two more (amazing) books! What has the ride been like & where do you hope to go next?
Well, it’s been absolutely thrilling and overwhelming and terrifying all at once, but I love every minute of it. I still can’t believe this is my job or my life, honestly.
Up next: I’m starting my fourth novel soon and also hoping to dip my toes into screenwriting soon as well. It’s all very exciting, but I’m trying to pace myself and not burn out creatively.
Are you allowed to talk about any of the potential movie adaptations in the works?
Sure. Currently a script is in the works for the adaptation of NOGGIN, but I don’t have any dates or anything. I’m an EP on the project and we have a fantastic screenwriter (Jamie Linden) working really hard to make it great, so fingers crossed. I’m also hoping to sell the rights to HIB soon.
Can you tell us at all about what you’re working on next?
It’s a secret. It’s always a secret—I have this fear that sharing ideas too early stalls my writing! Haha!
Favorite Disney movie?
Lady and the Tramp
Favorite Halloween candy?
The Ice King from Adventure Time
Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, or Ravenclaw?
Book you’ve re-read the most?
The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird. I think it’s a tie.
I don’t know how to put that in a Word file, but it’s the yellow cat making the Scream face. Hahaha.
Go-to Karaoke song? (YES, COREY. I went there.)
SOME people would suggest it’s a Justin Bieber song, but, really, I’ve moved past that. Now, my go-to karaoke ballad is ‘Say Something’ by A Great Big World (and someone has to accompany me for the Christina Aguilera parts or I refuse to go on stage!)
Name 5 things currently on your desk (or in your writing space), and share a photo, if possible.
HA! I love this. I’m writing at my kitchen counter because of my back issues, so here you go:
- ARCS of WE KNOW IT WAS YOU by Maggie Thrash and THE LAST TRUE LOVE STORY by Brendan Kiely
- My iPhone
- George Michael Bluth from Arrested Development
- Morgan and Darryl from The Walking Dead
- A Cashew Cookie Larabar with one bite taken out of it
Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.
Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But how can she prove she deserves a spot there?
Solomon is the answer.
Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa thrusts herself into his life, introducing him to her charming boyfriend Clark and confiding her fears in him. Soon, all three teens are far closer than they thought they’d be, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse, as well.
John Corey Whaley grew up in the small town of Springhill, Louisiana, where he learned to be sarcastic and to tell stories. He has a B.A. in English from Louisiana Tech University, as well as an M.A in Secondary English Education. He started writing stories about aliens and underwater civilizations when he was around ten or eleven, but now writes realistic YA fiction (which sometimes includes zombies…). He taught public school for five years and spent much of that time daydreaming about being a full-time writer…and dodging his students’ crafty projectiles. He is terrible at most sports, but is an occasional kayaker and bongo player. He is obsessed with movies, music, and traveling to new places. He is an incredibly picky eater and has never been punched in the face, though he has come quite close. One time, when he was a kid, he had a curse put on him by a strange woman in the arcade section of a Wal-Mart. His favorite word is defenestration. His favorite color is green. His favorite smell is books. He currently lives in Southern California.
If you’re in my neck of the woods — Portland, OR — I’ll be in conversation with Corey during his stop at Powell’s on May 24th. Chances are good we’ll discuss karaoke (again) and why he’s just so darn adorable.
U.S. only. Contest ends at midnight (PT) on Friday, May 20th.
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