“Of course I didn’t like Digby when I first met him. No one does.
The first time Philip Digby shows up on Zoe Webster’s doorstep, he’s rude and he treats her like a book he’s already read and knows the ending to.
But before she knows it, Zoe’s allowed Digby—annoying, brilliant, and somehow…attractive? Digby—to drag her into a series of hilarious, dangerous, and only vaguely legal schemes all related to the kidnapping of a local teenage girl. A kidnapping that might be connected to the tragic disappearance of his little sister eight years ago. When it comes to Digby, Zoe just can’t say no.
But is Digby a hero? Or is his manic quest an indication of a desperate attempt to repair his broken family and exorcize his own obsessive-compulsive tendencies? And does she really care anyway?
This is a contemporary debut with razor-sharp dialogue, ridiculously funny action, and a dynamic duo you won’t soon forget”
I’ll save most of my gushing for my official review, but I will say this:
Trouble Is A Friend of Mine is in my top three books of 2015.
When I signed up for the Debut Author Bash, I quickly scrolled to see if Stephanie was participating.
I had to fix it.
Now she’s here! YAY!! I love her to death, and Digby could mentally be me. You know, except I really want to tackle-kiss him and I’ve never wanted to tackle-kiss myself.
That would make it weird.
Anyway, here she is!
(P.S. She’s so pretty, and also is a Nancy Drew fan! Definitely a kindred spirit.)
I just wanted to thank you for doing an interview with me! Trouble Is A Friend of Mine was in my top five most anticipated novels, and I ended up absolutely falling in LOVE with Digby (Digby will actually be in my yearly Top Ten Book Boyfriends post.) I could gush about his personality (and his heart of gold) forever. I enjoyed the heck out of it, and if I was Zoe, and not my own shy self, I would have tackle hugged him and then I’d attempt to kiss him to death. <3
But anyway, let’s start the interview!
One of my favorite things about Digby, is his honesty. The slow burn between him and Zoe was amazing. We don’t get to see that a lot in YA. But there’s one thing I’m curious about. Digby is ultra-intuitive. His thought process seems to be a lot like mine, but I’d like to ask this:
Did you think Digby had any clue, as to how he would (mentally, emotionally) affect Zoe and vice versus?
It’s a complicated thing writing Digby: because of his past hurts, he withholds things about himself that most normal people show when they’re getting intimate with others. And when he does reveal truths about himself, he coats it with a joke or some kind of sarcastic comment that makes Zoe feel like she’s the defective for having an emotional response. So, in preparing himself to live life as a self-contained unit who doesn’t need anyone’s pity or concern, he’s genuinely surprised when his friendship has an effect on Zoe. I mean, he tells her what to do but he’s shocked when a) she does what he suggests and b) her life starts to change because of it.
I’ve heard that the cult was inspired by a cult across from your own house, any update on that situation?
Well, we moved to a bigger apartment a few months after we had a kid so I haven’t spied on them for a while now. I should add that they always seemed benign. It’s just that seeing them dressed in the same period piece-y outfits and working as a big unit…it’s arresting and it made me think what if…
What is your favorite comfort food?
Oh, man, this is an entire post in itself, really. It depends. Am I celebrating? Then it’s time for something crunchy. Chips, spicy popcorn…you know the aisle. I used to finish boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch – no milk. Am I bummed? Then it has to be mushier. The chips have to go in a spicy, cheesy dip. I like tomato soup with chili flakes and Doritos crumbled into it. Ice cream in mint or cherry whatever is never bad. There’s always cake, too. And chocolate-covered raisins.
But when it’s really bad, I have to bust out the big guns. I make ramen and reminisce about all the times in college when I thought my life was over and how I survived those other times, too. Pizza, old Chinese food, Cup-A-Soup, and Taco Bell are also in this category.
My stomach is a toxic waste dumpsite.
Felix is adorable, and I hear that his personality was inspired by your own childhood. I think it’s great to see an archetype like Felix, because what happens to him, happens to other kids and teens in real life.
That being said, Digby’s personality is really specific. To quote Kirkus: “Digby is an exasperating teenage Sherlock—sharply observant, impatient with social niceties, and unafraid of authority figures.”
I really bonded with Digby, and I found his thought processes, emotions and actions could have been my own. Being a Digby in this world can be hard, what advice would you give to a young Digby of today
First, I’d like to emphasize that I was never considered a genius. I was just normal precocious and they started me in school two years early. The problem was that it was a Catholic school that viciously held people back if they didn’t ‘do well’ academically. That’s how I ended up with a seatmate who was fifteen years old when I was ten. She tried to explain slow dancing and kissing to me and I really looked up to her. She wore makeup and I was obsessed with Archie Comics! I cringe now when I think of how I used to follow her around. I put all that into writing Felix.
I think some people think from book one that Digby is anti-social by nature and in writing the second book, I’ve spent more time showing how his experiences made him fearful of trusting people. He’s been let down so many times. When he was a kid, grown-ups shined him on and didn’t give him straight answers so I think it’s natural that he doesn’t bother with social niceties. He just wants to get down to the truth as quickly as possible.
I mean, that phrase ‘social niceties’—doesn’t that pretty much say it all? If you’ve been a victim of a violent crime, and the system fails you, and your family is split apart by grief, and your parents won’t even talk to you and help you recover from the loss of your sister…well, how much time would you have for social niceties? How much respect would you have for authority that’s failed you so many times?
I don’t know if I’m in any position to give advice. I was lonely in high school and it wasn’t until much later that I found one or two people I trusted with my feelings. Maybe I’d say that they shouldn’t be so worried about being likeable? Maybe do things to cultivate the moral courage to withstand the criticism you get for the times you don’t bend your will to please people? I can’t say I’ve completely succeeded at doing this myself. I mainly just stay home and daydream.
Trouble Is a Friend of Mine made me laugh so much. Its chemistry was unlike any other book I’ve ever read. What inspired the humorous moments and dialogue?
There isn’t any one thing that was the driving influence, really. The characters are built on a foundation of memories, I guess. I’ve known pretty interesting people. I used to make deals with myself: get the homework done and then the rest of the day, I was allowed to spend hanging out doing random stuff and collecting experiences. A couple of decades of doing that was enough to generate a lifetime of material. Well, I hope so, anyway…
Did you have a playlist that you listened to while you wrote TIaFoM? I’d love to listen to it… (actually, you might have included this in the back of the book, but I loaned it to a friend, so I can’t check!)
I actually wrote out some of the songs that I listened to when I was writing the first book for an interview elsewhere but you know what? There are three songs from that list that I continued to listen to when I was writing book two…
1) “Go” by The Chemical Brothers – this song has the lyric, “Everybody goin’ out of their skins” and I think this song is the soundtrack of the excitement and electricity between Zoe and Digby. The two of them together just…GO.
2) “Creep” by Radiohead – I still listen to this when I have to think about how ‘outside’ Zoe is. No matter where she is, her mind is like, “I don’t belong here…”
3) “Future Starts Slow” by The Kills – the lyric, “no longing for the moonlight, no longing for the sun, no longer will I curse the bad I’ve done” is such a great way to think about being here now and I think it’s such a Digby thing to aspire to that when all he thinks about is the past (his sister being taken), the future (finding out what happened to her), and all the things that he’s done wrong.
And lastly, what can you tell us about book 2? Absolutely anything counts 😉
The title of the next book is Trouble Makes a Comeback and Digby comes back to River Heights after five months away to find that Zoe’s moved on.
I can’t thank you enough for doing this! I didn’t see you on the Debut Author registry so I immediately knew I’d have to pull you in. Welcome to the world of YA! I can tell you this, you have made me into a loyal fan. I’ll be eager to follow your works.
Thank you, Rachel, for letting me be a part of this. It’s exciting! I’m so glad to be able to do this…I haven’t done too many!