I must confess. I have very particular taste in books. Humor books do not usually get my attention. That is, until I read Kersten Campbell's Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother. Kersten has made me a believer of the importance of laughing through some of life's miserable experiences.
Kersten was willing to take some time with me and to share her perspective on motherhood, writing, and . . . humor.
C.S.: How did you get the idea for writing this humor book?
Kersten: It was cheaper than a therapist. No, seriously, I started to write these stories to make my family and friends laugh and to help me look at the ups and downs of motherhood with humor and perspective instead of getting stressed when things got a little crazy with five kids.
C.S.: Are the crazy events in your stories true?
Kersten: All of the stories are based on true events, but I have highly exaggerated the events into a form of fiction based on real life. For example, my son really did dump out ten pounds of powdered milk all over the floor. It made a huge mushroom cloud, but I exaggerated it to be a complete white out in the kitchen.
C.S.: Well, you "do" humor very well. Do you really perform acts of Zucchini crime with your children on Sundays?
Kersten: I’ve thought about it and been very tempted. But what we really did was just make signs on boxes pleading with people to take these big green submarines that we had grown in our garden. Of course, no one would take them.
C.S.: Of course. What’s the secret to making people laugh?
Kersten: Writing humor is like drawing caricatures. You take true things that happen, or annoyances that are common to most people, and you enlarge or exaggerate them and make them silly. For example…in one essay, I have exaggerated my problems with garden pests into a war against bugs…and I have enlarged my daughter’s love of nature to be a crusade to save roly-poly’s. Humor is also about surprises…you have to set people up with a very serious point and then totally hit them out of thin air with something ridiculous.
C.S.: What about the characters, are they part of the humor, and are they true to life?
Kersten: The characters are what make the story funny and interesting. How they overcome their various ridiculous obstacles is something that puts the icing on the cake, humor-wise. The characters are sort of true, but exaggerated. I have taken true characteristics of people in my family and exaggerated them in each character to make them funny.
For instance I have a mind that is always coming up with impractical new ideas to solve problems…and in the stories I blow that trait up into a character who is constantly coming up with these outrageous schemes to solve every tiny family issue.
C.S.: I adored reading your book and you have converted me to the importance of humor writing. Even my young daughter couldn't put down your book. But those are my opinions. Why do you feel people should buy your book?
Kersten: You should buy this book because it will answer many unsolved mysteries in your life, such as… Exactly where did the 50,000 pens you have bought in the last ten years disappear to? What really happened to your Aunt Betty’s Christmas fruitcake? And, most importantly, what happens when you don’t scoop out your Halloween pumpkins?
C.S.: What does happen when you don’t scoop out your Halloween Pumpkins?
Kersten: You’ll have to read the book to find out.
C.S.: Is there anything your readers can learn from you? Any life changing ideas they will take away from this book?
Kersten: Oh, definitely. They will learn how not to sew on a Cub Scout patch, why you should never let your oldest child babysit, and the secrets of why you should never clean out your church bag.
C.S.: Anything else?
Kersten: The book will probably save their lives by helping them lose weight. Scientific studies show that laughing burns calories....
C.S.: Love that! How many calories?
Kersten: At least three...but that doesn’t count your workout of turning pages...there’s gotta be some payoff there.
C.S.: So in a year you might burn off, maybe...what a pound, two pounds?
Kersten: Unless you’re like me and you balance your workout with a high-energy recovery food like chocolate doughnuts.
C.S.: OK, I have to ask. Is it true you can't go a day without chocolate doughnuts?
Kersten: Very true. I really need to kick that habit. I’m looking into starting a recovery group for Donut addicts and the people who love them.
C.S.: Sort of a Donut’s Anonymous?
Kersten: Yes...to help me overcome all the enablers who serve me chocolate donuts at church activities. But seriously, mothers and grandmothers should read this book because life can be stressful in a family. Humor is reassuring. It can ease stress, comfort, and help you cope from day to day. A positive outlook has been scientifically linked to longevity and increased resistance to illness. Plus humor just makes you really, really happy.
C.S.: How can people get a copy of the book, Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother? It is a book that I can't recommend enough. I love this book.
Kersten: They can order it through Seagull Book.com, or through the publisher here or in any Seagull bookstore or independent LDS bookstore.