The upcoming book, 120 Ways to Annoy Your Mother (And Influence People), is a lifestyle-guide with a difference. Read on to find out how illustrator Ana Benaroya came up with the concept.
Where did the idea for the book come from? Was it something you had thought about doing for a long time?
The idea for the book evolved slowly. I wanted to create a book that I would have appreciated when I was suffering through my awkward middle-secondary school years. I’ve always felt that the selection of books for girls and young women who exist outside the mainstream is very limited. I think the downfall of so many books aimed at teen girls today is that they are about girls defining themselves by the boys they like. To counter this trend, I decided to create a kind of anti-self-help book – it will not help you do anything of real substance other than perhaps question the world around you – which I suppose is the best thing a self-help book can actually do!
Who are the characters in the book? Are they extensions of your own personality?
The main character – who has this somewhat conceited, all-knowing, snarky tone – is the narrator of the book. She’s not mean, but she isn’t very nice either. You could say she is an extension of my personality (I’d like to think I’m a much nicer person), although I wouldn’t have the courage to say half the things she says! A lot of the ‘How To’ concepts in the book came directly from my own experience and my own opinions. For instance, ‘How Not To Hate Men’ or ‘How To Walk in Heels’ are two things I constantly struggle with! ‘How To Be Interesting’ or ‘How To Pretend You Are Really Interested in Something Someone Is Talking About’ are things that I think people would actually like advice for (I don’t offer any help whatsoever). Then there are the surreal ideas, such as ‘How To Breathe Fireballs’ or ‘How To Teleport’. I thought it would be funny to include both realistic and surreal guides in my book – just to add another level of ridiculousness.
The book is very funny, and the humour captured perfectly by the illustrations. Did the writing or the illustration come first?
The writing definitely came first. I initially wrote up a list of 120 ‘How To’ ideas, then went about fleshing them all out. I’d write the 4 steps first and then figure out an appropriate activity to go along with the concept. At the very end I’d start laying out the page and come up with a humorous illustration to go alongside the text.
What do you hope the reader will get out of this book?
Hopefully they will find it funny and it will give them some solace and comfort in an oftentimes lonely world. I’ve always felt like an outsider looking in and I’ve always questioned the expectations placed upon me as a woman. I think my own questioning and my feelings of doubt, anger and happiness lead to the ideas in this book. Hopefully some of the readers will find something familiar in these ideas and feel more connected. I hope that his book will push girls to embrace all their strangeness and to be individuals. And for all the women who pick up this book, I hope it reminds them to question all the expectations that are placed upon them.
Want to know how to turn your life into a Soap Opera? Want to know how to create a masterpiece? This fresh new book contains 120 tips, some that really matter, some which are just off the wall and surreal. Available on 1 September 2014.
Available for £10.00 from the Thames & Hudson website.