Mindy Kaling Talked About Writing A Book With BJ Novak, Plus Releasing Her Memoir 'Why Not Me?', At BookCon 2015 (aka All The Best News)
If you were one of the many fans heartbroken that The Mindy Project won't be coming back to FOX, don't be: the show may be moving platforms, but its star, Mindy Kaling, won't be going anywhere. Not only does the über talented actress have a new season of her show in the works, she also has a Pixar movie, Inside Out, out this summer; a co-written Kaling-Novak book with BFF and Office co-star B.J. Novak, just announced; and a new memoir, called Why Not Me? out in September, the details of which Kaling shared during a May 30 panel at BookCon 2015.
Speaking with Novak at the event called the "Comic Con for books," Kaling spilled on all the exciting stuff fans can expect from her second memoir (her first, Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me? was a bestseller), and judging from the info released, Why Not Me? sounds just as hilarious and heartfelt as its predecessor — but, according to Kaling, the big difference is that it's a whole lot bolder.
With the first memoir, “I was just excited to be writing a book and hoping that anyone would read it,” Kaling revealed, adding that all she wanted was for people to like her. With this one, however, she knew she had a built-in audience; all she focused on was telling the truth.
"I'm incredibly honest and vulnerable in this book, and it's a little scary," she said.
Kaling said that the memoir covers many of the "huge plot twists" that have come up in her life recently, adding that “more has happened in the last five years of my life than the preceding 30." Topics discussed include family, heartbreak, and, in a chapter called "Player," her struggle to find a close female friend in L.A., the latter a subject she seemed particularly passionate about.
"It’s much harder to find someone you want to talk to than a man you want to sleep with," she said."
Kaling said that she's close with several famous women, including Lena Dunham and Ellie Kemper, but that she's still looking to find a real BFF, saying, “the only thing I want to do in next five years is make a new good friend.” The chapter discusses a painful past friendship she had in her 20s, and the importance of staying connected to friends from your childhood.
Elsewhere in the book will be a chapter on TV star beauty secrets ("they keep Christmas lights inside my bra," Kaling joked), boring character tropes ("hot serial killer who is also a little bit literary"), info about her day ("some people think my life looks like the Katy Perry video for 'California Girls'") and an "incredibly funny" essay by The Office showrunner Greg Daniels on the importance of being a mentor, a topic Kaling was interested in discussing because of how many people ask her what it's like. In the panel, she talked about the advice she gives to young women who want a career like hers: to put as much focus on being perceptive as being expressive.
"We think the only way to show we're in power is speaking, but that's not true," she said.
Kaling added that she thinks being a listener as a child helped her become a better writer, and clearly, it's worked; not only does she have the upcoming memoir, but there's also the just-announced collaboration with Novak, a project fans in the audience were all too excited to ask the stars about. Unfortunately, they couldn't say much, due to how early it was — Novak said they met only yesterday to discuss some possibilities — but Kaling expressed her enthusiasm about the book's potential.
"I love working with him,” she said of her longtime collaborator, adding that writing together once more is “super-exciting.”
As for what else is up next for Kaling, she purposely didn't name many specifics; she referenced the list she made in her first memoir about all the things she hoped to accomplished in the next few years, all but one ("I learned my natural lip color!") she failed to do, as an example of what not to do going forward.
“Instead of being able to enjoy the fact that I had a pretty good amount of success, I said, no, I need to do these things within the next five years… it made me feel like I accomplished nothing,” she said.
As her fans know, though, that couldn't be more false — and Kaling, armed with confidence, used that realization herself to title her memoir. She chose Why Not Me? both for its "wistful" meaning in regards to feeling "a little left out" next to her married, parenting friends and also for showing her "ambitious side." No one looked like her in TV and movies when she grew up, she said — but that didn't mean she was incapable of having the success she'd always wanted. She asked herself, "why can't I have that career?" and now, makes an effort to tell stories important to her, whether it's about her Indian heritage or her life growing up outside of Boston.
"I might explore that later," she said, in reference to her ethnicity, "but I also want to write about growing up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I want to do both."
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