Hi everyone! I am part of the blog tour for 100 Days of Cake put together by Hannah. For my stop I decided to do an interview with Shari. I love a lot of these answers, so I hope you enjoy it. 🙂 There will be a giveaway at the end of the interview where you can win one of three finished copies.
For those unfamiliar with 100 Days of Cake:
100 Days of Cake by Shari Goldhagen
Published By: Simon & Schuster (Atheneum Books For Young Readers) on May 17, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Themes: Mental Illness, Family
Get well soon isn’t going to cut it in this quirky and poignant debut novel about a girl, her depression, an aggressive amount of baked goods, and the struggle to simply stay afloat in an unpredictable, bittersweet life.
There are only three things that can get seventeen-year-old Molly Byrne out of bed these days: her job at FishTopia, the promise of endless episodes of Golden Girls, and some delicious lo mien. You see, for the past two years, Molly’s been struggling with something more than your usual teenage angst. Her shrink, Dr. Brooks isn’t helping much, and neither is her mom who is convinced that baking the perfect cake will cure Molly of her depression—as if cake can magically make her rejoin the swim team, get along with her promiscuous sister, or care about the SATs.
Um, no. Never going to happen.
But Molly plays along, stomaching her mother’s failed culinary experiments, because, whatever—as long as it makes someone happy, right? Besides, as far as Molly’s concerned, hanging out with Alex at the rundown exotic fish store makes life tolerable enough. Even if he does ask her out every…single…day. But—sarcastic drum roll, please—nothing can stay the same forever. When Molly finds out FishTopia is turning into a bleak country diner, her whole life seems to fall apart at once. Soon she has to figure out what—if anything—is worth fighting for.
For my stop I decided to do an interview with Shari. I love a lot of these answers, so I hope you enjoy it. 🙂 There will be a giveaway at the end of the interview.
The main character, Molly is really into sitcom TV, specifically Golden Girls. I adored this sort of outlet that you gave her. What inspired you to add that part in?
The book isn’t autobiographical by any means, but this element I did pluck from my own life. When I was growing up my family wasn’t all that literary, we watched a lot of ALF. . .and Roseanne, and Family Ties and Golden Girls every Saturday night. Even as I got older and started going out with my friends, it was really nice to come home and sit down with my parents and watch whatever they were watching and catch up . When I see reruns of those shows now, it’s like sliding on a Snuggie– instantly I’m back on that couch with my parents.
As a follow up to that, what is one of your favorite current running shows and one of your favorite older shows?
I binge watch what’s probably an extremely unhealthy amount of dramas—it’ll be like one in the morning on a weekday, and my husband I will talk ourselves into one more episode. I really like the different perspectives of The Affair, and we just finished the second season of Better Call Saul, which made me want to go back and re-watch all of Breaking Bad. Game of Thrones frustrates me sometimes (the books did, too) but it’s still a Sunday night event because they’ll be spoilers everywhere Monday morning.
One comedy I LOVE is Netflix’s BoJack Horseman because of the way it twists those sitcoms from the 80s and 90s. It walks that fine line of being extremely dark but still earnest in its occasional bursts of optimism. As far as older shows, well, Golden Girls is still pretty darn good!
This may be a weird question, ha, but why did you decide to begin 100 Days of Cake on Day 12 rather than Day 1?
The idea that Molly’s mom would decide to bake a cake for her every day is, well, pretty freaking strange. When she initially told Molly, Molly probably would have told her just that. Or she wouldn’t have believed her mom or maybe she’d assume Mom would bail on the idea after a few days. I tried to write that first cake scene several times, but it always felt sort of lifeless and while it sets a lot of things in motion, it seemed to really be holing the story back.
Then I remembered something I tell my students, you don’t have to include all the boring parts of a story. So I tried starting the book when the cake baking isn’t just an abstract maybe, but something that is already happening, and I thought it worked so much better. Plus, I wanted to have the events take place within summer vacation, so starting two weeks in better fit into that timeline.
An interesting thing that happens in 100 Days of Cake is how Molly’s mom bakes a different kind of cake every day in hopes of helping Molly’s depression. I thought this was a fascinating way of coping that her mom did. Why did you decide to have her mom bake cakes?
Depression is a weird beast, and it’s hard on the people close to you. Molly’s mom sincerely wants to help, but she doesn’t really know how and all the things people tell her you’re supposed to do—take Molly to doctors, get her on meds—aren’t working. She’s a person who’s had a lot of success following the advice in self-help books, so when she discovers A Baker’s Journey:100 Days of Cake, she’s willing to give it go.
She knows it’s probably a long-shot, but she’s willing to try. And to an extent Molly goes along with that too. It’s like throwing a penny into a fountain or making a wish at 11:11, you can be a rational person who knows it’s likely bunk, but a part of you desperately wants to believe it just might work. And it can’t hurt right?
I like how we really get into Molly’s head in the book and see how she deals with depression and therapy. Were you afraid of possibly incorrectly portraying either of these topics or portraying them in a way that people didn’t like?
I’m sure that many people are going to be offended or tell me that I’m presenting depression or its treatment incorrectly; I’m fully anticipating a little hate mail. But this isn’t intended to be a guidebook about how to recognize and cope with mental health issues; I’m not a doctor (if I were, I would definitely advice against crushing on your shrink). I write fiction, so character development is always going to trump specifics of biology for me. It’s not my goal to give a case study on teens with classic symptoms of various DSM-5 conditions, but to tell a coming of age story about a fully developed (I hope!) person who is dealing with these issues in a way that is true to her.
Did you need to do research for 100 Days of Cake? Was there any certain specific research you did?
I re-watched a lot of Golden Girls.
What character do you most identify with in 100 Days of Cake?
Hmm. . .I think Molly and I have a similar worldview on a lot of things, and I actually really understood where Dr. B is coming from and what he is trying to do. Oddly though, it’s the characters who are the least like me personally who I ended up loving the most. Elle, with her causes and righteous rage would drive me crazy, but I would love to have her as a friend. And I found myself smiling every time I wrote a scene where Veronica got to deliver a one-liner or show that she was so much more than the box that Elle wanted to put her in.
It’s really interesting to me that you first started writing professionally for magazines like US Weekly and Cosmopolitan, I think that’s really cool and interesting. What was that experience like for you?
I still write for those magazines. When I was younger I had this idea that I couldn’t write serious literature and stalk celebrities for the National Enquirer. But prose poems weren’t exactly paying the bills and those magazines were the ones that wanted to pay me.
After a while I came to realize that no matter the medium, people are reading for a good story—be it about Kim Kardashian or some literary heroine—they want to learn something about the human experience. So I love doing both. Also writing fiction is pretty solitary, so it’s nice to actually get to interact with other humans on magazine stories.
What (,if anything,) pushed you into writing Young Adult fiction?
Honestly, it was just getting older. When I was in college in my late teens and early twenties, I wrote a lot of first-person stories about girls. . .in their late teens and early twenties. . .who were from Cincinnati. . .and probably went to school in Chicago. . .and maybe liked comic books and dyed their hair red, etc. Anyway I would take those stories into workshops, and everyone would say things like the dialogue was great and I had some good descriptions, but the main character was such a bitch, which was really hurtful since that main character was painfully, obviously me.
The issue was that I was too close to the material and I wasn’t fully developing those characters and just assuming that the readers already understood them the way I did. They always say, “write what you know,” but writing what I knew was literally ruining everything.
So I started writing stories about men in their thirties. And that allowed me to really invent a character from the ground up—I couldn’t just make assumptions; I had to account for all of their thoughts and motivations and quirks. Those stories turned into my first adult novel. Writing my second novel, I was farther removed from my late teens and early twenties, so I could write about younger characters—men and women—during with more distance. And now that I am a freaking dinosaur, younger characters require that ground up invention, and I’m loving it.
What is something that you’ve learned from writing three books now?
I am a terrible copy editor.
Relationships with siblings can be hard to maintain, especially as they get older. I really liked Veronica’s character as she reminded me of my own sister, which helped with some insight there. What do you think is the hardest part for both siblings in trying to maintain their relationship?
Like Molly, I have a younger sister. People always assume we’re really different—I’m the “serious” writer with dark hair and a bunch of degrees, while she’s the blonde B-list actress who practices hypnotherapy and has a Pomeranian. A lot of times we play into those roles and it’s frustrating, but the truth is we are actually extremely similar and have a ton of common ground, even if we lose sight of that sometimes. That was one thing I wanted for Molly and V to be dealing with as well. They’re growing up and developing different interests, but they are still a lot alike in a lot of ways even if they forget it occasionally or don’t want to acknowledge it. They still have a shared history and still love each other, but he way they relate to each other needs to evolve.
A fellow show-binger. ❤ Any book that involves re-watching shows is a book that I want to read. I really love Roseanne. I could watch re-runs of it all the time. I need to check out BoJack Horseman as I really like 90s sitcoms. I love that 100 Days of Cake didn’t start on day 1 and the reason Shari gave. It really did help the story already fall into place which was great. I still think it’s so cool to be writing for US Weekly and Cosmopolitan. Like wow. People do really just want a good story so I will definitely read magazines like that if they contain one. I loved V’s one-liners!
Ah, thanks so much for the awesome answers and for being on my blog, Shari. ❤
Here is the giveaway for my lovely readers. You can win one of three finished copies. It’s United States only.
For some more information on Shari Goldhagen:
After serious pursuits of literature at Northwestern (BSJ) and Ohio State (MFA), Shari Goldhagen discovered she had a knack for sifting through celebrity trash and worked as a gossip writer for publications including The National Enquirer, Us Weekly, and Life & Style Weekly. And her articles on pop culture, travel and relationships have appeared everywhere from Cosmopolitan to Penthouse. She has received fellowships from Yaddo and MacDowell and currently lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
The Tour Schedule: