Robyn Harding, The Journal of Mortifying Moments
What if you could get a glimpse of your future by writing about your past, specifically all the moments in your life when you wished the floor would open up and swallow you in one gulp? That’s the premise for the Journal of Mortifying Moments. Some of those moments the character, Kerry experienced cracked me up while others made me cringe in horror. They also made me think back to some of my less- than- stellar moments. We all have them...
This is author Robyn Harding’s debut novel and I’m bubbling over with excitement to interview her. Robyn is funny and bright and one of my favorite novelist friends. Remember Robyn’s name: she has another novel coming out in 2006. The trade paperback of The Journal of Mortifying Moments will be available on November 29th, the perfect holiday gift for your friends who love to read. Or better yet, buy it for yourself.
The idea to keep the journal was brilliant. Do you think Kerry needs to continue with her journal or did it do its job? And do you suggest anyone keep such a diary of their most horrendous moments to look back on with humor and/or horror? My highschool moments alone would be a twelve volume series.
Well, if I ever write a sequel, Kerry would obviously need to keep writing in her journal. But in reality, I think a journal like that would send you over the edge! I do think it’s fun and healthy to reflect on past disasters with humor and the insight that comes from age and experience. Sometimes our most humiliating, devastating experiences make the best stories. But writing those moments down in such explicit, painstaking detail? That would definitely lead to all sorts of self-medicating – like excessive drinking, shopping or cream cheese icing eating.
What is your most mortifying moment? Did any of Kerry's mortifying moments come from your own life?
My most mortifying moment happened when I was seventeen. I had a summer job working as a receptionist at a moving and storage company. The office was attached to an enormous warehouse. The place was crawling with men – most were fat, sweaty truckdrivers, but I had a little crush on this muscular young delivery guy. One day, I skipped out to the warehouse to deliver a phone message to one of the drivers. I was feeling all cute and seventeen, in my turquoise stirrup pants, Keds and matching zebra patterned top. (oh Robyn- no! Was your hair permed and teased too?)
There was a group of about seven guys standing around talking – including my crush. The phone in the office rang and I turned to run and answer it. I was kind of running on my tiptoes so I would look graceful or something, when my ankle completely gave out. I fell, very dramatically, flat on my face. I actually kind of skidded along the warehouse floor. I remember the guy I liked yelling, “Holy shit!” I was actually bleeding and covered in dirt. I got up as fast as I could and ran to the bathroom where I locked the door and cried. God . . . I need a bowl of icing now.
Most of the mortifying moments in the book are complete fiction, but the ski hill one is based on an incident with a friend of mine. She was very sweet to let me write about it. I also had a boyfriend break up with me right after I’d had my wisdom teeth removed. And I was never so overtly rejected during a game of truth or dare, but as an extremely unattractive youth (braces, glasses, bad perm) boys weren’t exactly lined up to kiss me. Other than that . . . all fiction. People always think that the ‘moments’ must have happened to me. They didn’t! Really! I don’t have a kinky sex life and I’ve never made out with my first cousin!
You were in advertising for a while- ever do one of those campaigns like you described in the book? Kids on crack- or high speed internet? I was laughing out loud!
I never worked on anything quite that extreme, but there was one campaign I remember. The client is irrelevant since the ad had absolutely nothing to do with the product. It was to be shown in movie theaters. It was a completely black screen with the sound of a kid, laughing maniacally, cocking a gun and then firing. This repeated about three times until there was a bigger crack of gunfire, and then this deep creepy laughter, like this monster had just shot the psycho kid. I was just like – what??? That creative team was really twisted.
How often do you get to downtown Vancouver to do some shopping? I love it there. Love the stores, love the people, everything. I suggest everyone take a trip to Vancouver at least one time. The under the street shopping malls are so cool. Do you like to shop?
I really love Vancouver too and feel so lucky to live here. I usually head downtown to do a big shop every time the seasons change. When I was younger, I wasn’t much of a shopper, but as I get older, I like it more and more! I seem to be developing a lot of bad habits as I age. I never used to drink hard liquor, either, but now I’ve become quite a fan of martinis. In a few years, I’ll probably be one of those martini-swilling, shopalohic women carrying a dog around in her purse. Maybe you could join me next time you’re in town?
Do you ever stay in your pajamas all day writing? Ever eat Lucky Charms straight from the box and pick out all the marshmallowy goodness before your kids can?
I wish! I’m talking about the staying in my pajamas all day and writing, not the Lucky Charms. I tried them once. Blech! I call them ‘Yucky Charms’.
What is in your cd player right now?
I think it’s ‘The Wiggles, Big Red Car’ album. It’s a goodie.
But when I go running (which is extremely rarely) my MP3 player is loaded with songs by the Gorillaz and The Killers – and of course, some guilty pleasures like old Duran Duran and The Spice Girls.
What do you consider to be your best feature? And do you tweeze your eyebrows or get them waxed?
Did you ask about my eyebrows because you knew I would say they are my best feature? I tweeze them a little, but they’ve always been pretty good. On my body, I’d have to say my arms are my best feature. I guess those are funny features to choose. I mean, it’s not like someone would ever say: “Check out the eyebrows and arms on her!”
Can you tell me what your next book is about?
Mais oui! My next book is called “The Secret Desires of a Soccer Mom.” Set in the suburbs, it is the story of Paige Atwell, a stay-at-home mom who has just sent her youngest child off to first grade. She’s feeling bored and unfulfilled with her life and her marriage, when her best friend, Karen, confesses she’s been having an affair.
Paige can’t help but feel a little envious. Karen seems so alive, so full of joi de vivre! That is, of course, until she’s found dead, lying in a pool of blood in her attached garage. Most of the neighborhood seems willing to accept that Karen’s death was an accident, but then they don’t know what Paige does. Trying to protect her friend’s good name, Paige decides to get to the bottom of Karen’s death on her own – investigating Karen’s husband and her ‘irresistible’ lover.
I’m so excited about this book and really happy with the final manuscript. Despite the ‘darker’ subject matter, it’s still really funny (if I do say so myself). “The Secret Desires of a Soccer Mom” will be out in June 2006.
What do you do in your free time?
I don’t have any! I have two kids, a dog and a husband. Okay, I’m always whining about being so busy but I do have a little time to myself. I take a martial arts class once a week (my jumping snapkick is a lethal weapon). And I like to get together with friends for coffee, dinner or drinks. I’m a really social person and being a writer can be a little isolating. Other than that, I mostly just veg out on the couch and watch TV. That Martha Stewart Apprentice show is really good!
If you won the lottery, how would you spend the money?
I’m going to sound like such a phony lame-ass but I would give a ton of money to charity. Really – I would buy a house with a view of the ocean and then I would give most of it away. I’d divide it between foreign and local charities. Id like to support AIDS affected children in Africa, and Vancouver’s downtown eastside is a real mess – full of homeless junkies. And of course, there are all the cancer charities and other diseases. God, I’d have to win big! But I’ll never win the lottery because I don’t buy tickets. I don’t even want to win the lottery. I’d rather be a rich, bestselling author! (Amen to that sister!)