Still as funny as ever, author and screenwriter extraordinaire Caprice Crane's latest novel, Confessions of a Hater,has been garnering a lot of attention lately, from celebrities as big as Adam Lambert to fellow book nerds like myself. As a quick refresher, Confessions of a Hater follows Hailey Harper, a new quirky teen who has always considered herself to be one of the “invisibles”. After moving to Los Angeles with her family, Hailey finds herself trying to navigate the waters of West Hollywood High via the help of her older sister’s “How to be a Hater” journal. She and her new friends decide that it’s time to shake up the social hierarchy at their school, only to learn that there is a difference between doing the right thing and what feels right at the time.
One of the biggest themes of Confessions of a Hater is bullying, which is an issue that Caprice feels very strongly about. Unfortunately, bullying is as prevalent today as it ever has been, but Caprice has hope that, through teaching kindness, we can all help put a stop to it. During our chat, Caprice and I discussed her own experiences with bullying, why bullying is so rough today, and how to help put a stop to it:
YH: Confessions of a Hater has gotten a lot of buzz lately, including a shout out from Adam Lambert! I’m sure you’re quite pleased about that. How does the buzz make you feel?
CC: I love it. That’s what I want. It’s so hard to get books noticed and recognized, especially fiction. And especially young adult, if there’s no vampires. I tried to create something that was real, and that does not garner the most attention. The fact that people read it, or are reading it, and enjoy the book and relate to it, is everything.
YH: Confessions of a Hater really delves into the topic of bullying. Were you ever bullied in high school?
CC: I wasn’t bullied, but my best friend was. I hung out with her a lot because of it, and because she didn’t have a lot of friends. I watched her suffer and I watched her try to kill herself because of it. It was very real and sad. It keeps going on as the years tick by. There’s this core meanness that happens that’s totally based in insecurity, I think. Kids who don’t know how to deal with their own emotions tend to lash out at others to make themselves feel better. Bullying happens all the time. You see it with women who don’t want to support other women. It’s so sad. We need to support each other.
YH: In our previous interview, you mentioned that you did quite a lot of research for the book, including talking to actual high school students. How many of these students mentioned that they have been bullied?
CC: I couldn’t give you a number, but a lot. The word "bully" wasn’t used specifically, but the emails I would get would talk about someone who was a bitch to her, or who wouldn’t decorate her locker for her birthday and made sure nobody else did, or had stolen her boyfriend, etc. There was a lot of it. There was a common theme in the emails I would get.
YH: In your opinion, do you think that bullying today is worse than it has been in the past?
CC: I think it’s a 100% worse. What wasn’t around when I was growing up was the internet, and these messages that are blasted out so that it becomes viral. When I was growing up, these things could happen in a private moment and get shared around and would be talked about for a little while afterwards but then it would just be forgotten about. With the internet, it’s permanent; it gets sent around everywhere, and it’s horrifying. Another example of bullying is if a girl is not the most intelligent about her body, and if she happens to send a photo to intrigue a boy, and then they break up, that photo will go everywhere. These poor girls... I’ve read stories where these girls have moved towns multiple times because of something that happened that was an innocent mistake and then they get branded as some kind of slut. People will tell them to kill themselves, and then they do. The saddest thing is when I watch these YouTube kids who will hold up signs and talk about how many people tell them to kill themselves, and then they do. Your heart just breaks.
YH: How do you think we can help stop bullying?
CC: Teaching kindness. It seems like a no-brainer. Sometimes it feels like it's cool to be mean, but it's not. I think that, ultimately, nice girls will finish first. You can only hurt so many people before you are completely ostracized. At what point and at what cost do you realize what you’re doing? I think that teaching kindness, instilling self-respect, and building each other up... I think that, at every age, we should work to build our friends up and never tear them down. We need to encourage people. When you see someone who’s down on themselves, try to correct that. I think that could certainly be helpful. And not gossiping! I know it’s hard to do, and we live in this world of 18,000 magazines that are focused on gossip and a million websites that care about who wore it better, which is mean. I think that if everyone made an effort to not gossip, and if someone tries to make an effort to gossip with you to tell them that you’re not interested. It’s not who you want to be. Gossip is boring, and it’s also revealing. If that person is talking to you about someone else, than that same person is going to be talking about you to someone else at some point. That’s not someone you trust, and that’s not someone who you want to surround yourself with. The biggest advice I can give is to be nice. Be nice to everyone! No matter where in your mind you put them at. Even if, for some reason, you think that they’re beneath you, which is ridiculous, be kind anyway. Treat everyone the same. Make everyone feel important, because they are, and ultimately it feels good to be nice to people.
YH: What was your favorite scene to write in Confessions of a Hater?
CC: I loved when the girls were all together. I loved when they were building each other up. There’s one scene where the Invisibles get invited to a party, and they think it’s their coming out party, like they’re finally being accepted. The popular girls invited them as a joke, and greeted them outside with valet vests and bowties and wanted them to park cars for the actual guests. Rather than being defeated, the girls turned it around, and made a game of it. They parked the cars all over. They ended up doing a treasure hunt for these people, who were going to have to find their cars all over town with these little hints and clues. They owned it and made it a fun thing. I thought that was a really fun scene to write.
YH: Do you have a particular writing schedule or creative process?
CC: I don’t. I’m really terrible. My writing schedule is entirely based on deadlines. I am a procrastination machine. If there is anything on the internet, or anything in my refrigerator, or anything in the entire world, I will need to address it before I start writing. I’m terrible. I wish I was better about it. I’m so envious of people who are. I’m inspired by them. And I still don’t manage to get it together. [laughs]
YH: Do you have any favorite bits of advice contained in the “How to be a Hater” journal?
CC: I think they’re all fun, although some are ridiculous, which Hailey points out as being ridiculous. But here are a few of my favorites: (1) No sexting, no naked pictures to your boyfriend’s cell phone. Eventually the whole school will see them and you will be That Girl. (2) Don’t giggle when a guy makes a dumb joke. You’re making it too easy and lowering the bar. Make them earn your laugh... I think they all have some merit, except for the ones that are obviously ridiculous.
YH: What books are you currently reading?
CC: I just read The Fault in Our Stars, which I thought was great. I’m excited for the movie. I follow John Green on Twitter. He’s like a kid in a candy store every time he goes on set. I loved that book. Right now, I’m writing, so I’m not reading as much.
YH: What can we expect to see from you next?
CC: I’m currently working on a pilot that is a half-hour comedy. Hopefully that’s something you will see next. I’m also developing two other pilots. As far as books go, I’m not sure. That’s a great question, and I wish I had an answer for you, but I’m not sure yet. We’ll see how this book does and go from there.