“Why He’s My Ex”: A Happy Book of Endings
When we meet for our interview, Krishna Devine graciously greets me with a gift of homemade horse soap. It’s a gift that demonstrates just how low-key and nice Krishna is, and also how she likes to keep busy. The co-author, with Jessica G. Hill, of the hilarious new book “Why He’s My Ex,” Krishna has done a lot of great work in a very short time. She has gone from Seattle television station KING 5 to working on movies and making more than 100 television commercials, and creating the genius of “Why He’s My Ex.”
“When I start a project, I can’t imagine not finishing,” Devine says.
In “Why He’s My Ex,” women from six countries tell their true stories of past relationships. Some wish to remain nameless — like the one who confesses to the sad story pictured above. (Click here to learn just how sad.) I read every single day, and I don’t say this often: You really should check out this book.
No Photoshop trickery or special effects were employed in making “Why He’s My Ex” – only the help of Hill’s 92 year-old grandma Emma Hill. She sewed the couches and many other props, and coincidentally, she carried a Colt 45 to the book’s launch party in Los Angeles. Emma had made her own toys as a child during the Depression out of “milk cartons and old fabric scraps.”
Her granddaughter Jessica continued the work in her grandma’s tradition, and friend Debbie Mezera finished the small detail work. Devine and Hill designed the book so well that three or four reads into the book, I was still finding new details — like a Hitchcockian lighting setup in one shot I bet some of you fans can spot.
The intricate mini-set pieces include teeny modeling clay toothbrushes and band posters humorously titled as “Local Band” – touches that Krishna remembers well from her own exes’ apartments. (“All the band guys I dated were, yes, in Seattle,” chuckles Devine.)
“Collaboration with good people motivates me,” says Devine. The two authors challenged each other in the making of “Why He’s My Ex”; they had debates that allowed the collaboration to remain productive, and made the project better by through their alternative visions and perspectives. Once, they found a “whole new concept” that started from a difference of opinion, and they feel that it improved the whole endeavor. But through it all, their friendship stayed strong: “Jessica is more like a sister.”
Once the book was done, more challenges arose. “The art is the fun part; it’s knowing what to do when it’s done (that’s tricky),” Devine says. “Why He’s My Ex” went through a boutique publisher, so to promote it, the authors were compelled to go D.I.Y. With the help of a friend, recently-graduated Portland State marketing student Robyn Embley, the “Ex” team created a website, Facebook groups, and bright crimson stickers promoting the book.
(Devine is emphatically clear about how important the whole project team is. “People seem to forget who helps them,” she says humbly.)
Like all inspired authors, Devine is a strong reader, and when asked to recommend a favorite book she suggested something “totally different than my book,” Mark Mathabane’s memoir “Kaffir Boy.” The memoir about Mathabane’s struggle as a black man in Apartheid-era South Africa struck a chord with Devine. She explained that if Mathabane could overcome such tremendous hardship to become someone great, then “I have no excuse!”
Devine isn’t nearly done creating. Her ambition shone when she told me that she plans to use her Japanese language skills to translate the piece into hiragana and hopes to market it internationally. And as for her next book, she and Hill will be completing the call-and-response cycle with a male perspective on the end of relationships.
But “Why He’s My Ex” and its probable sequel aren’t about keeping bad feelings alive. It’s just fun.
“The point of the book is to laugh and move on with our lives, not to belittle anyone,” says Krishna Devine.
The authors of “Why He’s My Ex” will be at Third Place Books in Bothell September 8 at 7 PM. You should go; they’ll be signing and autographing books and giving away prizes. And for Pete’s sake (or Petra’s), go look at the book’s website to see more about this clever, hilarious endeavor.
PHOTO BY THE AUTHOR