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Interview with CARING IS CREEPY author David Zimmerman + Giveaway!

Today I am lucky enough to be chatting with David Zimmerman, the author of CARING IS CREEPY, a new novel from SoHo Press that releases today! Here's a summary:

Fifteen-year-old Lynn Marie Sugrue is doing her best to make it through a difficult summer. Her mother works long hours as a nurse, and Lynn suspects that her mother’s pill-popping boyfriend has enlisted her in his petty criminal enterprises. Lynn finds refuge in online flirtations, eventually meeting up with a troubled young soldier, Logan Loy, and inviting him home. When he’s forced to stay over in a storage space accessible through her closet, and the Army subsequently lists him as AWOL, she realizes that he’s the one thing in her life that she can control. Meanwhile, her mother’s boyfriend is on the receiving end of a series of increasingly violent threats, which places Lynn squarly in the cross-hairs.

So, without further ado, my interview with David! (Stay tuned for a giveaway at the bottom!)

1. Can you tell us about yourself and your publishing journey? How did you get started?

I didn’t learn to read until I was eight. A very patient teacher’s assistant sat me down and asked me to tell her the story of my favorite movie. The idea being that we’d write it out together and I’d learn some basics. This was in 1978 and I’d seen Star Wars upwards of fifteen times. Over the course of several weeks I recited the dialogue and action from memory. Poor woman, I even made R2-D2 sounds. From there, I read everything I could get my hands on from Judy Bloom to Robert Louis Stevenson. Writing my own stories seemed a natural outgrowth of reading.
I wrote everything that came into my head from mildly pornographic stories in middle school (these were a big hit with my classmates) to some pretty dismal horror fiction in high school. Before I went away to college I never thought about actually trying to write a book. This scheme evolved into a pretentious story based on half-digested Dostoyevsky. Awful, to say the least. It wasn’t until I tried writing from the POV of a thirteen-year-old girl named Ruthie that things really started to click for me. The book was entitled, Hotwire, and it got me an agent and a lot of very kind rejection letters.
My first actual book-like publishing accomplishment was the result of a Canadian event called the Three Day Novel Contest. Amazingly, I won and they printed my novella Socket. For some years I ranged about from agent to agent with different books but frustratingly similar luck in publishing them. Finally, after an unhappy response from my latest agent (for my latest book), I began sending out manuscripts myself. Soho Press bit. In 2010 they published my first full length novel, The Sandbox, and this month they’re publishing my second, Caring is Creepy.

2. What inspired you to write CARING IS CREEPY?

One Sunday back in 2001 while I was living in Savannah, GA, I swiped a copy of the NY Times off a table in a café. Somewhere buried in the nation section was a single paragraph blurb about a mother bringing laundry into her fifteen-year-old daughter’s bedroom and discovering a twenty-five-year old AWOL soldier hiding in her child’s closet. This seemed strange enough, but the aspect of the story that really caught my attention was the fact the soldier had been there for a month and had only left to use the toilet. Mind you, the girl was at school most of this time. What on earth was he doing while she was gone? I imagined him reading the entire run of Little House on the Prairie. Obviously, there was sex involved, but I couldn’t believe this was the only reason he stayed. I kept finding myself wondering about these two and how this arrangement came to be.

3. The story has some pretty heavy/dark themes (which I always appreciate!). Are you drawn to more complex or dark stories? What about them draws you in?

I’ve always been intrigued by the reasons people behave badly. Very badly. It’s rarely a single decision that leads someone to rob a bank or go out and shoot their best friend. I’m interested in the chain of decisions that lead to the fatal choice. For example, my character Lynn Marie who keeps a soldier captive in a storage area behind her closet. She never imagines her first wrong step will lead to something like this. Anyway, happy stories are dull.

4. If you met your main character, Lynn, today, what would you say to her?

If I met Lynn, I’d say, “God, I’m sorry for torturing you for 300 odd pages. I promise I won’t write a sequel.”

5. And, finally, what are you reading right now? What were some of your favorite books as a teen?

I just finished reading Lev Grossman’s sequel to The Magicians, The Magician King, and before that I read Jack Gantos’s wonderful book, Dead End in Norvelt. As a teen I remember a few books really making an impression on me. One was the pseudo-diary, Go Ask Alice. This was wonderfully creepy. Another was Stephen King’s It. That weird sex scene in the sewer between the children at the end disturbed me for some time after. However, it was a memoir about a young boy trapped in a Japanese concentration camp during WWII that really stuck with me—J.G. Ballard’s Empire of the Sun. I can actually remember the places I read certain scenes.

Thank you for joining us, David!

If you're interested in winning a copy of CARING IS CREEPY, you can win one right here! Just leave a comment answering the question: "What is the strangest thing you've ever done for someone you care about?" I'll pick a winner ONE WEEK from today. (US and Canada Only). Good luck!

Kody Keplilnger

Kody is the NYT bestselling author of The DUFF, Shut Out, and A Midsummer's Nightmare, all from Little Brown/Poppy, as well as Lying Out Loud, Run, and the middle grade novel The Swift Boys and Me, from Scholastic. Born and raised in Kentucky, she now lives in NYC.

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  1. I can't think of anything strange I've done for someone I care about. I actually just wanted to comment to say I really enjoyed the intereview, and the book already has my interest.

  2. I haven't done anything least I don't think so. BUT I would, if the time came. I love my husband dearly :)

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  3. What sex scene at the end of IT? I must have been too young and naive when I read that one to catch on...and it definitely wasn't in the TV miniseries;)

    I've never done anything strange for someone I care about...must remedy that.

    Happy release day! This book does sound intriguing!

  4. I've had a lot of weird relationships with people (relationships meaning "everyone I have ever met") but the strangest was when I had to send someone (let's call them "A") to a mental hospital. Legally, I don't think I can actually get into much detail about it, so I won't.

    I didn't really "care" for this person like you would a friend, but I cared for A as a person. And I knew that A was dangerously close to the edge. So in order to save A, I had to do something that A, at the time, viewed as negative.

    That's one of the MANY weird things/strange things that I've had to do - but that definitely put me in a strange situation.

    rdesilets at gmail dot com

  5. Strangest thing I've ever done for someone that I care about?

    Hmm, well I wouldn't say it was strange but one of my best friend's was having trouble with her boyfriend who was also my friend, and he was cheating on her with someone else and I knew it only I just didn't want to tell on him and things got really awkward and messed up and the whole situation blew up in my face in the end. My friend was able to forgive me for keeping the secret from her, but it still felt strange not telling her what she deserved to know, even though it could have saved her a lot of heartache.


  6. Hrrrrrmmmm.

    I really have no clue. I can think of something weird that I did for someone I didn't know especially well, two someones actually.

    We were on a class trip in Ireland and the last ones left out at a bar one evening. The two girls were seriously drunk and got picked up by two guys who wanted to drive them somewhere. They were going either way, so I went along because I felt bad leaving them alone with two strangers drunk off their asses.

    To this day, I'm not sure if that's what I should have done. Either way, things were fine. We actually got to see a cool old fort. It was odd though. We had to wake someone up to get back into the hostel at like 3 in the morning.

    1. Forgot to include my email: cynicalsapphire at gmail dot com

  7. The strangest thing I've ever done for someone I care about is dump their boyfriend for them. It was really awkward but whatever.

  8. The strangest thing I have ever done is comb every single local grocery store for my best friend's favorite brand of peanut butter so that I could mail them all to her in France (where she now lives. and can no longer buy peanut butter.)

    Great interview, and the book looks fantastic!

  9. Great interview, this sounds so weirdly creepy...and what a strange blurb in a newspaper that inspired it!

    As for the strangest thing I've done for someone I care's not very dramatic, but in college I drove my friend's car behind him and another friend at 3am while they went skateboarding around our city. They had the random idea to cruise around and discover the town (we'd just started college there ~2 months before) at 3 in the morning, but weren't sure where they'd end up or how far they'd go and how they'd get back. Somehow they convinced myself and another friend to drive the car trailing them so when they got tired, we could all drive back to the dorms. It turned out pretty fun, actually, but it was definitely a very strange thing to have done and to explain to our roommates when we got back at daybreak.

  10. The strangest thing I have ever done for someone I care about . . . I've done some pretty weird things. Mostly going to ask librarians for pencils because no one else wanted to. I think the strangest thing has probably been eating the same mac & cheese every single Thursday for six years. I hated it. But my best friends parents refused to buy it and they loved it.

  11. This book sounds awesomely creepy!

    My best friend and college roommate was studying to be a phlebotomist, and she had to practice doing blood work a certain number of times each week. So every day I'd come home from class and let her stick me in the arm and take my blood over and over again until she got it right. Boy, did I (do I) love her!


  12. What a fantastic interview, and thanks for putting this book on my radar. I hadn't heard of it before, but it sounds incredible. I can't believe the initial inspiration was from a real-life story. Yikes!

    I can't say I've ever done anything terribly creepy for someone I love, but I like to think I'd go the distance if the opportunity presented itself. :)

  13. I can't wait to read this book! If I don't win it, I'm going to buy it. :)

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. My grandmother had a big house and in the attic on the 4th floor there were beds covered with sheets and chains over the bed. I have no idea why but I took a friend up there and told her my dead uncles were under the sheets and that they'd hung themselves on the chains. She ran out of there crying and never spoke to me again.

    I'd love to win this book. I enjoyed the review.

  16. The strangest thing I've ever done for someone I care about is encourage my daughter to quit her job. Even though she is out of college and more or less self-supporting, her bosses were ruining her self-esteem by making her feel incompetent and lazy. We were afraid she would have problems interviewing well after more than six months of this emotional "abuse."
    I would love to win this book and would share it with my students!

  17. The strangest thing I've ever done for someone I care about would most likely be talking dirty to a girl while pretending to be him. He was being bashful but really liked her and he couldn't say no, so he asked for help. Yeah, that one still makes me feel sketchy.

  18. Love that this book is based on real events! It sounds intriguing. I guess I have to go with the hard love story. I had to send someone to jail, but it was the only way he would finally clean up his life. He did, though he claims to hate me, still, all these years later. Ah well. :-)
    andrea (dot) coventry (at) gmail (dot) com


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Item Reviewed: Interview with CARING IS CREEPY author David Zimmerman + Giveaway! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kody Keplinger