Today is the official launch of Rats, Mice and Other Things You Can’t Take to the Bank: An Inspirational Collection of Essays from Humorous to Simply Human by first-time author Leslie Handler.
Book Description: Part memoir, part essay collection, Rats, Mice, and Other Things You Can’t Take to the Bank is written with both wit and charm. It will take you on a ride from finding a mouse in the house to the mortgage crisis, from a smile to a chuckle and from a few tears to the feeling of being wrapped in a blanket sipping a warm cup of cocoa on a cold winter’s day. Handler offers a rich, touching, heartfelt and reflective read that will leave the reader with an indelible uplifting spirit.
Author Bio: Leslie is a Society of Newspaper Columnists award winner. She’s an international syndicated columnist with Senior Wire News Service and a frequent contributor to WHYY and CityWide Stories. She freelances for The Philadelphia Inquirer and writes for Humoroutcasts, ZestNow, and Boomercafe, as well as blogs for HuffPost. Leslie currently lives smack dab between Philadelphia and New York City with husband Marty, dogs Maggie, Hazel, and Ginger, a collection of fish, said husband’s cockatoo who she’s been trying to roast for dinner for the last 33 years, and a few occasional uninvited guests. You may follow her blog and read published essays at: LeslieGoesBoom.com. Follow Leslie on Facebook and Twitter.
1. Tell us about who you are
I grew up in Texas and The Cayman Islands. Although I got my degree in Journalism, I never used it. I was in hotel management throughout high school and college. I almost transferred schools to get a degree in hotel management. That’s actually how I met my husband of thirty-three years, but that’s a story to read in the book. We have two beautiful and successful daughters. I now live in the Northeast because I married a damn Yankee. I can tell you that you can take me out of the sun and the beach, but you can’t take the sun and the beach out of me. Eight months out of the year, it’s just too cold for me here. I left the hotel business early in my marriage and had numerous careers in numerous fields until I was no longer able to work.
2. Have you always been a writer?
Nope. I only started writing about four years ago. For some time, I was too ill to do much of anything. But gradually I began to have some good days. Then more good days. On good days, I needed my brain to work. One day, I sat down at my computer and wrote out a story that had kept me awake for two nights. Something possessed me to send it in for publication consideration. When it was accepted, I tried a second story. They accepted it, and at the same time, awakened a passion. Now I write in my sleep and can’t believe I ever lived an entire life without being a writer.
3. What inspired you to write this book?
Some of my previously published essays are in the book, but many simply couldn’t find a home anywhere else. I think I’ve had more than my fair share of challenges in my life. I’ve tried very hard to show my kids that we all have challenges, but that a good life is all in the learning how to react to them. No matter how bad we think it is, there’s always someone out there worse off than we are. Being grateful for the abundance I have in life and teaching others how to do the same is the greatest of joys. My hope is that in sharing my stories outside of my family, that they will find their way into someone else’s challenges and help lift them up and know that they are not alone.
4. This book is a collection of humor and non-humor. Are you equally as comfortable writing humor as non-humor?
Actually no. I don’t think I’m all that great at humor. I believe that any humor found in my stories is just me, trying to make light of my own stupid situations. I think I’m a much better writer when I write about things I’m most passionate about. That’s when the words just spill out of me.
5. what do you hope your readers get from this book?
I truly hope that the book is not read all in one sitting. I hope that people will pick it up when they have a few minutes at the doctor’s office, in line at the store or curled up for twenty quiet minutes before life takes over. I hope this because I want each little story to sink in and be felt. If readers can find themselves in some of the pages of my book and say, “Aha, I’m not the only one,” then I will have done my job!
6. You are donating some of your royalties to mental illness. Why is this cause important to you?
I have family members and close friends who have suffered from mental illness. I myself have suffered through depression. I truly believe that mental illness is no different than any other illness. It’s an equal opportunity afflicter. You don’t have to have a character flaw to get it. There’s a terrible stigma though surrounding mental illness. We’re in the dark ages not only with treatments, but with how these illnesses are perceived. I hope that by helping to fund the National Alliance on Mental Illness, I’ll be doing my part to help the next generation of sufferers be able to publicly divulge their illness and be treated no differently than if they had diabetes, heart disease, or cancer.
7. What was the biggest challenge to writing this book?
What was the easiest part of this project? The biggest challenge I faced was in learning about the publishing industry itself. It’s changed so much in the digital age that everything is new to everyone. Writers just want to write. The challenge has been in learning that unless I wanted to write for myself in a private journal, I was going to have to learn the business side of publishing. It’s been hard for this old lady to learn new things. The easiest part in the past has been in the joy of writing. Many writers stop there because they’re introverts. I’m no introvert. I’m looking forward to meeting some of my readers and hearing both their stories and how they related to mine. I think that will be the most fun of all.