Monday, July 6, 2020

Dear Reader, Love Laura Preble

Dear Reader…

If you are contemplating reading Anna Incognito, here are some things you should know. It’s a book about a woman with severe OCD, which, in this pandemic world, might be a condition that could be useful to have. You might pick up some real-life hacks. Also, it’s about children and relationships and about how to borrow a sweet Caddie ride when you really aren’t sure you can drive.

If you’ve already found your way to my novel, Anna Incognito, you most likely have a sense of humor and a fascination with the twists and turns of human psychology. As you may imagine, I’m a big fan of those things too. I’d like to tell you why.

I have lived with various mental illnesses through most of my life, and many people I love also endure various and sundry mental quirks, tics, and conditions. As I reader, I have rarely seen characters with mental illness portrayed in a realistic way, or in a positive way. They’re usually in crisis, or being hospitalized, or falling apart.  And of course, those things do happen with a sometimes-predictable frequency to those of us in this club. What I wanted to show in Anna is that a person can be more than their mental illness. Anna has trichotillomania and dermatillomania (hair and skin picking), compulsive conditions that are borne of trauma. The story is about her journey, both literally and figuratively, where she discovers what has kept her frozen in this condition and unable to move forward.

I also wanted to show that a person like Anna is a whole person, with a sense of humor, strange internal monologues, and fears and hopes. She is not her illness. While it may affect much of what she does, it does not wholly define her.

When I was in a very tenuous place many years ago, I read a book by author Tom Robbins call Still Life with Woodpecker. On a plane ride, moving all of my earthly belongings to California from Ohio to take a job as a journalist, I was 23 and terrified. I read the book on the plane, and one particular thing really stayed with me: Robbins said that “The camel has a big dumb ugly hump…As legend has it, the camel carries its own water, stores it in its stupid hump. If individuals, like camels, perfect their inner resources, if we have the power within us, then we can cross any wasteland in relative comfort and survive in arid surroundings without relying on the external. Often, moreover, it is our ‘hump’- that aspect of our being that society finds eccentric, ridiculous, or disagreeable - that holds our sweet waters, our secret well of happiness, the key to our equanimity in malevolent climes.”

I really latched onto that when I was 23. My ‘inner resources’ —the things that made me not fit in to normal society — were exactly what I needed to make it through the difficulty, the fear of the unknown, the largeness of being alone in a place where I knew no one. That has been true for my whole life. It may be true for you, Dear Reader. I know it’s true for my character, Anna, and the teenaged hitchhiker she picks up, Mellow.

What I’d like to say to you is this: find those eccentric, ridiculous, even disagreeable, aspects in yourself. The quirks, the tics, the thinking, the feeling, all of it. And save it to draw on when life attempts to show you that you are too weird, difficult, talkative, confident, scared, or sad to make it through your journey. Anna made it, I made it, and so can you. Viva la Weirdos, says I! Sew up a freak flag and fly it!

About the Book

Lots of narrative pull…wonderfully complicated. – Jincy Willett, author of The Writing Class, and anthologized by David Sedaris in Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules.
Anna Colin Beck knows all too well what can happen when things go wrong really wrong. So, she’s spent the last several years living an extremely regimented life at home, doing everything she can to avoid subjecting herself to the torments of a germ-infested world. Everything must be just so, and when things don’t go to plan, she punishes her own body…and that still hasn’t helped alleviate her pain.

After a chance meeting in a laundromat, she finds herself completely infatuated with another person, something that hasn’t happened to her in a long time. Dr. Edward Denture is seemingly brilliant and magnetic…and in the blink of an eye, she’s attending intense somatic therapy sessions as his newest client. The more he draws from her, the further their relationship grows, until it’s crossed countless lines and consumed Anna with a fierce toxicity. And before she knows it, she finds herself buckled into the driver’s seat of a powder-blue El Dorado for a solo cross-country road trip, determined to stop his wedding. It’s a trip that will test every limitation she’s ever set for herself, and though she’s planned extensively for all contingencies, there are some twists and turns you just can’t prepare for.
With wry observations on the intersection of luck, fate, and life, Anna Incognito is a searing, darkly witty exploration of what it means to be alive.

PRAISE FOR ANNA INCOGNITO 5/5 “Rich with witticism in the face of painful realities and evoking lyrical truisms throughout, from of a rating scale of 1 – 5 this novel is so off-the-charts good, it deserves a 10.” LINK HERE 4/4 “The writing was captivating…This book would be great for readers who are struggling with mental health or for those trying to understand it better. Are you ready to go for a drive with Anna?. Buckle up, because you are in for the ride of your life!” LINK HERE
Kirkus Reviews:  “The protagonist’s acerbic wit and mordant tone work well in the difficult material in Preble’s unconventional road novel. A razor-sharp, oddly fun  romp through the American West.” LINK HERE


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About the Author

Laura Preble is the award-winning author of the young adult series, Queen Geek Social Club (Penguin/Berkley Jam), which includes the novels Queen Geeks in Love and Prom Queen Geeks. Her novel, Out, dealt with the concept of LGBTQ rights within a young adult dystopia; Alex Sanchez, author of Rainbow Boys, says “Out explores an intriguing, mind-bending, and challenging portrait of an upside-down world that turns the tables on homophobia, acceptance, and love.” She has won a Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize, and has been published in North American Review, Writer’s Digest, Hysteria, and NEA Today.



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