Exit Strategy by Lauren Allbright
I really wanted to start this blog with a joke, since this book is about a boy, Ross, who researches different ways to be funny after accidentally making a humorous exit from a school before he and his mom moved to another place. But even after reading the book, I realized I am not funny and any attempts might make you stop reading this post now. So I will tell about how I had an opportunity to meet the lovely author of the book, Exit Strategy at Second Star to the Right Books a few weeks ago. Lauren Allbright came into the Rumpus Room (back garage of the store where they hold events) with her three adorable and enthusiastic children, all wearing t-shirts with the book cover on them and the #justshowupbooktour. Lauren was so sweet talking to all the other girls who attended and then came over to me to introduce herself. She told me the whole family was traveling in an RV during the summer for her book tour, so cool! Once I arrived it started to rain, something that rarely happens in Denver, but when it does, you are usually guaranteed sun in a few hours. Go figure it started to rain harder as more people showed up. Once the wet fans arrived Lauren talked to the crowd about her book and read an excerpt.
While Lauren signed books I asked her a few interview questions, I later emailed her some of them and others.
Please read what she had to say when asked, 3 questions about the book and 3 questions about her…
3 Questions about Exit Strategy
What three words would you use to describe your book?
Funny, sincere, and redeeming.
We love how there is a layer of the book that can teach/reinforce graphs and charts! When making the book, what was the process for picking which graph/chart would fit appropriately?
After I researched how to be funny and what people perceived to be funny, I put it all in a flow chart. When I first started my research, I was doing it for me son and I wanted to give him a graphic with the info. Then I thought, “This is helpful to me!” which led to thinking about all the time I could have used a handy-dandy chart to tell me to tell the joke or keep it to myself. (I STILL need the chart sometimes!) Somewhere in there, the idea for EXIT STRATEGY got planted. Since I knew I wanted to use the flowchart at the end of the book, it made sense for there to be graphics throughout. I browsed science fair projects (thank you, Pinterest!) to see which ones I liked and which ones supported the story. Making the charts and graphs were my favorite part of writing this book! They also helped me really understand the main character and how he sees the world.
What research did you do to learn more about how to be funny?
This was overwhelming at first! “Funny” is such an abstract concept (and changes based on the situation and setting). I started out reading websites and interviews by comedians and took a bunch of notes. After that I watched TV shows with laugh tracks and paid a lot of attention to when the laugh tracks were played–that is where the producers WANT you to laugh. When I heard them, I’d ask, “Was that funny to me?” and “Why did I think that was funny or not funny.” I also watched people as they watched TV or chatted with others and noted what made them literally laugh out loud. And, of course, I have my own field research–years of trying to be funny (and often failing!).
3 Questions about You
If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be and why?
I’d love to be a dancer for a famous singer. I am not that talented, but I LOVE to dance and move and work hard at a physical goal.
What is one book that has stuck with you since you’ve read it?
I just finished THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas. It is very timely, of course, but Angie is so good at creating a story and showing (rather than telling) how people can react and how the same situation can be viewed very differently. THE HATE U GIVE is so textured and layered, there is so much to absorb and think about.
What is one item in your fridge that tells us about you?
*Goes to put a random/non-food item in the fridge to make this easy to answer*
A loaf of Udi’s gluten-free bread. My middle son and I have Celiac Disease, so we buy Udi’s in bulk. We always have multiple loaves in the deep freeze and one in the fridge. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was an adult (my son actually got diagnosed first and that’s how we knew how to look at Celiac for me). I was so sick as a kid. And tired. Eating gluten free doesn’t feel like a burden because I’m just so happy to be healthy now! (Though sometimes people can make me feel like I’m a burden for needing to eat sans gluten!)
But that ends on a bummer note, so how about a mom joke from the book?
Question: What do you call of firefly that backs into a fan?