Croce delivers a witty guide to living romantically unattached in Single and Forced to Mingle (Atria, Dec.).
This book was inspired by an FAQ brochure you made that went viral. What was adapting a brochure into a book like?
I think it was nice to have the template of the brochure in terms of the tone that I wanted for the book, since it clearly resonated with a lot of people. It was a good foundation. I think the most difficult part was translating the humor. The brochure was very much off the cuff; I just did it. But trying to actively be funny—or at least entertaining and amusing—that was a little difficult. I had no prior professional writing experience, so I didn’t have any preconceived notions. I could just do what I wanted and then get feedback from my editor. And I work in children’s publishing, so it was kind of nice to write something that was totally different from what I normally read, too.
How did you come up with the many quizzes, lists, and mad-libs?
The way the book came about is a nontraditional example of publishing. My agent and editor helped me develop the book. We would go on Skype and just open a Google doc and be like, “What do we think would be funny?” Because a humor book is not a traditional book of essays, you want to keep people engaged with a mix of different things. We wanted to make it fun and entertaining and lighthearted, so that’s where we got the idea of doing a mixed format. Some things are more informative than others, and some things are more funny; we wanted to strike that balance.
What advice would you give to someone who is newly single and not quite ready to talk about it?
I totally relate to that. I think being honest works. It kind of depends on the tone the person is taking. If it’s a sympathetic friend, you can just be like, “Thank you for checking in. I’m not ready to talk about it yet.” If someone is not as sympathetic, I think you can be honest but succinct, setting up that boundary for other people: “I’m not ready to talk about it yet. Thank you for checking in,” or, “Thank you for thinking of me, but I’m going to internalize for a second.”
You manage to take a pretty emotional topic and find the humor in it. Have you always used humor to respond to challenging situations?
Yeah, I would say so. I think it’s a generational thing. Millennials use very dark humor to talk about a lot of heavy topics. Even when I complain about things, I try to be slightly self-deprecating. I never want to be the person who goes on and on about something. I think humor can be really helpful if you don’t have control in certain situations. You can’t always control a situation, but you can control how you react to it. Even if I might not feel super humorous, just having that attitude can help a little bit.