Tuesday, January 31, 2012

So I've been super busy lately....promoting, marketing, and talking up my book, and I've gotten A LOT of questions in the process. I've decided to start addressing the queries here on the old blog. Below are the first two in what will probably be a lengthy (but entertaining!) series of FAQ&A's.

Here I go.

FAQ's: Thanks, That Was Fun

Q: How did you come up with the title Thanks, That Was Fun?

A: The title of my book comes from a song of the same name by the Barenaked Ladies. It’s a rather obscure track; a B-side of sorts (if you were born after 1990, ask an older person about B-sides. Don’t worry, it’s nothing dirty). It’s available on iTunes and also as a “previously unreleased” track on BNL’s greatest hits album, titled—appropriately—All Their Greatest Hits.

Thanks, That Was Fun (the book) wasn’t always called "Thanks, That Was Fun." The working title was actually Some Fantastic, another BNL song. This was mainly because I started writing my novel in late 1999, and I was obsessed with the Ladies’ seminal 1998 album Stunt.

Stunt was the perfect soundtrack for the book--funny, sad, dark, lovelorn, snarky, boozy—there’s even a song on the album called “Alcohol”—that track alone provided a great deal of inspiration. I listened to Stunt constantly and I was convinced that the title of the book had to come from one of the songs. For a while I called it “Light Up My Room” (track #3), but the more I wrote, the more I thought “Some Fantastic” (track #12) sounded a lot cooler. For those who aren’t familiar, “Some Fantastic” is probably the weirdest song on what is already a weird album. To give you a taste, here are some sample lyrics:

One day I’ll construct a satellite/And I’ll name it after you/Cause you were the greatest friend of all/Except for when you split my lip in two

What the hell did those lyrics have to do with my novel? I have no earthly idea. It was like having an unexplainable crush on someone. I didn’t know why I liked “Some Fantastic,” I just did. And once I settled on it as a title, I was very attached. It was smart and intriguing and catchy; in short, everything I thought a debut novel should be. That title stuck to my novel for years, from 2000 to 2009, to be precise.

My editor Scott was the one who got me to call it "Thanks, That Was Fun." Trust me, I needed a little convincing. I was all but married to Some Fantastic. I mean, Some Fantastic and I had been through a lot together at this point. Did I mention that it took me a long time to write this book? Well it did. It took me a frustratingly long time. Some Fantastic had stayed with me through six moves, five significant relationships, two presidential administrations…we had a history, and that title was a part of me, dammit! But Scott (talented, wise, patient, funny, straight-talking Scott, more about him later) thought that “Some Fantastic” was way too vague and that I needed a title that was more descriptive, one that fit the story. He’d been at me for a while to change it and one day he told me over the phone to do a little brainstorming and come up with some alternate names before our next meeting. Reluctantly, I sat down at my desk and typed up a short list of song titles and some random phrases, then emailed it to Scott. When I met with him a week later, he had printed out the list I’d sent—there were about a dozen names—and he’d put big X’s through all of them but one: “Thanks, That Was Fun.” He presented me with the paper and said “Here’s the new title of your book. It’s funny, it’s descriptive, it’s sarcastic, it’s teasing, and it fits your novel to a T.” Seeing it there in print, I got his point. Scott was right. It worked.

Q: Your name isn’t really Andie Nash. Why did you change your name?

A: Again, it comes back to an album, although my mom was the one to first suggest that I use a pen name. I believe her actual words were “This novel of yours….you’re not publishing this under your real name, are you?” I had in fact been planning to use my real name; I didn’t see anything wrong with it. But my mom begged to differ, citing privacy and a bunch of other parental concerns and issues I hadn’t yet considered. So I told her I’d think about it, and left it at that.

It was around this time that I received an awesome gift from my writer’s group friend Becca: her old record player. I was super excited--not only to have a real excuse to shop for vinyl--but now I had a real turntable on which to spin it! Woo hoo! Never one to do things in half measures, I hit up every thrift store, used record shop and garage sale within a 30 mile radius searching for new (well, old) vinyl and bought up everything I came across. One of my purchases was a Crosby Stills Nash album, the one where they’re all hanging out on a ratty couch on some porch.

You know, this one. I believe it’s actually called Hanging Out on a Ratty Couch on Some Porch.

So I got the album home and put it on the turntable and I was sitting there staring at the cover while it played. I’ll just go ahead and say that this was before I got sober and I was a bit anesthetized, probably on something herbal. And my mind was wandering, and I started thinking about possible pen names. I wanted to keep Andie, because it’s really my first name. Okay, it’s really my nickname, but everyone calls me Andie, and I like it that way. But what to do about a surname? So I studied the CSN album and thought, Andie Crosby? No. Andie Stills? Lame. Andie Nash? Hmmm.

Yes, Andie NASH. Now that was cool. And pretty badass. (And Graham Nash is hands-down my favorite member of CSN. I’ve always loved “Our House.”) Anyway, I made a mental note and filed “Andie Nash” away, just in case I decided to use a nom de plume when my book came out.

Then, Simon Reid happened.

Chances are, if you Googled the name “Andie Nash” and/or “Simon Reid”, one of the links brought you here. So if that’s how you found this blog I’ll go ahead and say that, yes, I’m THAT Andie Nash, the American woman who blew the whistle on her conman ex-boyfriend and blah blah blah, you probably have a little background on the story already. If you’re looking for more, you can read my first Simon Reid tirade here, a 2010 update here, and a post about my March 2011 appearance on the Today Show here (and yes, the last part was a blast. Getting an all-expense paid trip to NYC, appearing on national TV, and hanging out with Jo, Laura, and Nicola made the initial Reid drama worth it in the end.)

So I started thinking about using the name “Nash” just before I went on the Today Show. Since I was going on TV to air my dirty laundry to all and sundry, my mom was worrying—-again (I love my mom)--about privacy and internet searches and all the weirdness that you have to worry about when you’re a parent to a screwball like me. So in the end, that’s what convinced me to take the name Andie Nash, for both public and literary purposes. And there you have it.

Next time...I dish some dirt and answer more FAQs!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Birds do it. Bees do it. And so do chickens, apparently.

I think I must have been about 4 years old when I asked The Question. My family was living in Greensburg, Indiana (this was before we made our big move to "The City" - Indianapolis) and Stuart, my buddy next door, was about to become a big brother. Stuart's mother was the first pregnant lady I'd encountered and, as the months went by and she grew steadily larger and wider, I must have been curious. I'm guessing that's what prompted The Question. I don't actually remember asking it, but I do remember The Answer, and it came in the form of a real doozy of a book: How Babies Are Made.

My mom, naturally, was the one to proffer the book and broach this delicate subject with me. She was the typical 1970's earth mother, quite different than the conservative mothers of my friends, and definitely more "with it" than the small-town mothers of Greensburg, so it makes sense that she would have used How Babies Are Made, a Time-Life book first published in 1968. Apparently it's quite famous (Judy Blume even mentions it in Superfudge) and pretty much the go-to book for forward-thinking parents of the era who wanted to teach their kids about the birds and the bees. The images in the book--crafted entirely from construction paper--have a sweet, touchy-feely quality, but at the same time are rather explicit (check out the equipment on the dog, for starters). I don't remember the details of "the talk" but--as the cliche goes--a picture is worth a thousand words. And this book had a lot of pictures.

Here are a few highlights....

Here we have the artist's rendering of a bee pollinating a flower, but I can't even pay attention to what's going on inside that flower because, seriously, that bee is AWESOME! And it's made completely out of construction paper.

A mommy chicken and a daddy chicken doing...well...The Funky Chicken.
But wait...there's more! Turns out that dogs do it too. (YOU probably thought I was going to make a joke about doing it doggie-style, didn't you? Well, ha! I resisted the urge, so there.)

Look, it's Angelina Jolie's wet dream! (Sorry, I had to.)

And here are the babies, all grown up! I was mistaken, that's not Angie's brood. Clearly it's (clockwise from upper left) Zac Efron, Jessica Simpson, Barack Obama, Adam Brody, and John Cho (sporting an unfortunate haircut and a seriously groovy shirt)!

This is how humans do it. Under the covers, missionary-style. End of story.
Note: I like that the woman seems to be enjoying herself; that's a sure sign that this book was crafted in the late 1960's. In the 1950's such a notion would have been soundly mocked and quickly dismissed. Women enjoying sex? Hahahahaha! Surely you jest!

After the mommy and the daddy get nekkid and lay in bed and kiss for a while, a baby comes out!

Awwwwww! I can't even make fun of this picture, it's too sweet. I'm gonna go call my mom now.

While searching for images from this book I came across other people who had blogged about it. Check 'em out:

One of a Kind Wisconsin -- I really loved this post and the writer's commentary!

Teri has a highly entertaining blog and a great story about how she discovered this book.

Jennifer blogged about this a few years back. Check out her recollections of How Babies Are Made. (Her current blog, btw, is here.)

Do you have memories of this book? How did you find out about the birds and the bees? Tell me about it in the comments.

And speaking of books, here's mine.