A Chat with Author Laurie Finkelstein
Laurie Finkelstein Author of Next Therapist Please
Laurie’s debut novel, Next Therapist Please, mirrors many aspects of her life, including her struggles with mental illness. Laurie lives with depression, anxiety and OCD. Laurie deals with the challenges of mental illness by using comedy and maintaining a positive outlook on life. Laurie’s goal is to break the stigma of mental health one joke at a time.
How did Laurie combine comedy with such a serious topic? We sat down with Laurie to take look at the inspiration behind her hilarious novel.
What inspired you to write your book?
Next Therapist Please began as a series of journal entries I wrote for the purpose of coping with past challenges. My living with anxiety, depression, and OCD, caused difficult situations and interesting stories. Raising a special needs child while coping with my own mental illness was overwhelming. Writing episodic entries in my journal became my next therapist in a sense. After writing my entries, I realized that the stories should be shared so others struggling with the same issues could relate and not feel alone. My love for romantic comedies made my choice of genre very simple. By taking the stories and working them into a fictional plot with fictional characters, I was able to take a serious subject and shed a gentle light on it.
Can you tell us about the book from your point of view?
Janie lived with anxiety, depression, and OCD her entire life. She stumbled her way through school, marriage, special needs children, and an ultimate tragedy. When Janie runs into one of her retired ex-therapists, they form a friendship. Through the growth of the friendship, and a recounting of all the therapists in her life, Janie is able to navigate her life with more purpose and success. Ultimately, in true romantic comedy style, love is on the radar for Janie’s future.
What can readers expect from this book?
Readers living with mental illness and/or special needs children will be given the opportunity to laugh, cry, and nod in unison. Those who have a family member or know someone living with mental illness will gain insight into a world they may not understand. Readers shielded from how mental illness impacts an average family, will walk away with a sense of awareness and compassion. Humor is the common thread weaving hard truths into a fun tale.
Can you tell me three fun facts about you?
- I love Gumby and have an Instagram account Gumby_Gone_Wild.
- I was employed to play characters at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
- I am a visual artist who loves painting geologically inspired works.
What are your plans for future writing projects?
I have two writing projects in various stages of progress. The first is a non-fiction adult humor book called A Higher Order of Thinking. It is a collection of personal experiences of a 60-year-old woman using medical marijuana. It is in the editing and illustrating process.
My second project is a fiction romantic comedy with supernatural elements and a possible murder mystery. It is called Dying to Play Mah Jong, and is a fully written rough manuscript.
What do you want the world to know about Next Therapist Please?
10% of each purchase of Next Therapist Please is donated to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one of the leading organizations dedicated to support the mentally ill. One in five American’s live with mental illness. We need to break the silence and break the stigma surrounding mental health in order to deal with it as any other human illness. The statistics are staggering with up to 40% of people living in homeless shelters having serious mental illnesses. Up to 25% of the homeless on the streets are mentally ill. Over 20% of the imprisoned are mentally ill. 70% of children in juvenile detention have a mental illness. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. 43 million Americans need affordable access to treatment. More research and affordable care is essential.
How do you think your book relates to the world today?
Mental illness is an epidemic. Janie lives with her mental illness like millions of Americans. She is one of the lucky ones who have access to care. But even with medication and therapy, living with mental illness is a challenge and we need to care for each other today more than ever.
What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down?
First, I want readers to have a gratifying experience when they finish the book. Beyond that, readers need to know mental illness is treatable, but not curable. Living with a mental illness is difficult, but manageable for leading a successful life with proper care and treatment. Neighbors, friends, or relatives may be suffering in silence.
Be kind, patient, and empathetic to people. We do not know what goes on behind closed doors.
If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
Janie will take you on an unusual journey you will not want to miss. Most importantly, you will make a difference by helping break the stigma of mental illness one laugh at a time.