Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Interview with Kersten Campbell

Today's posting is an interview I had with Kerstin Campbell, the author of Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother.

How did you get the idea for writing this humor book? It was cheaper than a therapist. Seriously, I started to write these stories to make my family and friends laugh and to help me look at the ups and downs of motherhood with humor and perspective instead of getting stressed when things got a little crazy with five kids.

What’s the secret to making people laugh?
Writing humor is like drawing caricatures. You take true things that happen, or annoyances that are common to most people and you enlarge or exaggerate them and make them silly. For example…in one essay, I have exaggerated my problems with garden pests into a war against bugs…and I have enlarged my daughter’s love of nature to be a crusade to save roly-poly’s. Humor is also about surprises…you have to set people up with a very serious point and then totally hit them out of thin air with something ridiculous.

Do you really perform acts of Zucchini crime with your children on Sundays?
I’ve thought about it and been very tempted. But what we really did was just make signs on boxes pleading with people to take these big green submarines that we had grown in our garden. Of course, no one would take them.

So tell me about the characters in your book, are they part of the humor, and are they true to life?
The characters are what make the story funny and interesting. How they overcome their various ridiculous obstacles is something that puts the icing on the cake, humor-wise. The characters are sort of true, but exaggerated. I have taken true characteristics of people in my family and exaggerated them in each character to make them funny. For instance I have a mind that is always coming up with impractical new ideas to solve problems…and in the stories I blow that trait up into a character who is constantly coming up with these outrageous schemes to solve every tiny family issue.

Are there life changing ideas readers will take away from your book?
Oh definitely. They will learn how not to sew on a Cub Scout patch, why you should never let your oldest child babysit, and the secrets of why you should never clean out your church bag.

Anything else?
The book will probably save their lives by helping them lose weight. Scientific studies show that laughing burns calories….

How many calories?
(at least three)..but that doesn’t count your workout of turning pages…there’s gotta be some payoff there.

So in a year you might burn off, maybe…what a pound, two pounds?
Unless you’re like me and you balance your workout with a high-energy recovery food like chocolate doughnuts.

Is it true you are addicted to chocolate doughnuts?
Very true. I really need to kick that habit. I’m looking into starting a recovery group for Doughnut addicts and the people who love them.

Sort of a Doughnut’s Anonymous?
Yes…to help me overcome all the enablers who serve me chocolate doughnuts at church activities. But seriously, mothers and grandmothers should read this book because life can be stressful in a family. Humor is reassuring. It can ease stress, comfort, and help you cope from day to day. A positive outlook has been scientifically linked to longevity and increased resistance to illness. Plus humor just makes you really, really happy.

Why should people buy your book?
You should buy this book because it will answers many unsolved mysteries in your life, such as… Exactly where did the 50,000 pens you have bought in the last ten years disappear to? What really happened to your Aunt Betty’s Christmas fruitcake? And, most importantly, what happens when you don’t scoop out your Halloween pumpkins? (Read the book to find out.)

Your website,, has a Motherhood Support Center. Would you explain that?
Yes! I am so excited about it. I think that mothers have the most stressful job on the planet, which is why I wrote the book, to help them enjoy it more and relax about their imperfections. I am hoping the website will accomplish the same thing by bringing women of all ages together to give each other advice and tips and share their own funny family stories. This website is a place to share recipes, and a forum for tips and ideas. There is a section where you can ask questions and get answers from other moms. They can visit a chat room or look at a section where I post uplifting motherhood quotes and another section where I post interviews with experts. They can also sign up under “Humor Essays” to have a new one of my humor essays on the family emailed to them each month.

You can buy a copy of Kersten's book, Booby Trapped: And other Amazing Adventures in Motherhood through Deseret Book, Seagull Book, or through the publisher at You can also order signed copies off of Kersten's website at

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