It’s great that the world supports eclectic books like More Show Me How: Everything We Couldn’t Fit in the First Book Instructions for Life from the Everyday to the Exotic. Described by its publisher (HarperCollins): “A new collection of fun, practical, and outrageous projects from the genius minds of the original Show Me How…Volume two of the Show Me How series contains brand-new instructions that show readers how to amaze, trick, create, style, and love, among other endeavors. Ideas range from the practical (hang a ceiling fixture; hem a pair of pants) to the outrageous (boobytrap a bathroom; forge an antiquity) to the romantic (ace a school crush; send a saucy cell phone pic.) So go ahead and learn some killer pool moves. Or stage your own impromptu gallery show. Style you hair in a fauxhawk. More Show Me How is the indispensable real-life resource that helps readers live life to the fullest and be the star of the party.” To find out more about this book, I recently email interviewed two of the creative forces behind the book, Derek Fagerstrom and Lauren Smith, who also operate “The Curiosity Shoppe in San Francisco‘s Mission District, selling (and falling in love with) everything from a make-it-yourself ukulele to a DIY bird-watching kit.” My thanks to Smith and Fagerstrom for their time.
Tim O’Shea: How was it decided what topics to include in the book? Were there any that were deemed too absurd or obscure for inclusion?
Derek Fagerstrom: We wanted to make sure that the book appealed to a wide range of people, with all sorts of interests and skill levels, which meant that there were very few restrictions as to what we could include. A lot of the topics came initially from the personal passions and expertise of the Show Me Team (it’s always more fun to start with what you know and love). From there we just made sure to have a good balance of topics that we found interesting, fun, and useful (with the occasional absurdity thrown in for good measure, of course!). The only real reason that we ever decided NOT to include something was if it turned out to be dangerous or overtly criminal.
O’Shea: Do one of you always come up with the idea for an installment, or do some suggestions come from the Show Me Team?
Lauren Smith: Derek and I brought our own particular interests, but it was very much a team effort to come up with the huge amount of information in the books. And after we had settled on all the topics, there was a whole other team of amazing artists and designers that translated our instructions into beautifully rendered, easy-to-understand illustrations.
O’Shea: Now you have me curious, with #54 “Disappear from a cruise ship”, did you develop that one based on someone who had done that and succeeded? Any news reports I ever hear, the person just disappears/presumed drowned, not later found to be hiding on an island.
Lauren: To a certain degree we wanted the book to be encyclopedic and timeless, something you can keep going back to over and over again to learn new things. But we also wanted it to be relevant to what’s going on in the world today, so we looked to pop culture and current events for topics as well. And at the time we were working on the book, lots of financiers and other corporate criminals seemed to be “disappearing”, so we thought we’d offer some friendly advice. The tips are partly based on schemes actual people have tried, partly on fictional depictions of people who disappear, and partly on our own vivid imaginations and dreams of deserted islands.
O’Shea: Have you ever heard back from a reader, thanking you for getting them out of a bad situation, due to one of the show me how installments?
Derek: We’ve never had someone report back to us that they escaped an anaconda attack or an avalanche because of the book, but lots of readers have told us how helpful its been in other areas of their lives, particularly food, crafts, home decor and gardening.
O’Shea: Do fans come into The Curiousity Shoppe with suggestions for future Show Me How installments?
Derek: Not really. Mostly they comment on how insanely comprehensive the two books are.
O’Shea: Why did you come up with the idea to include a graphic index of tools in the back of the book?
Lauren: It all started when people would walk by the pages we were working on and say, “What’s that yellow blob, anyway?” And it was so obvious to us that it was a loofah! (Or a wheel of cheese. Or something.) So, we figured we should help readers understand what special tools they might need–and whether that’s a crowbar or a very rigid snake.
O’Shea: The #285 Ask Without Words chart, how long did that take to compile (given how much ground it had to cover). In retrospect, are there any you wish you had thought to include?
Lauren: Almost more than anything else, this was a massive collaborative effort. The editor whose crazy idea it was took a stab at it, then all of the rest of us on the team chimed in with the things we’d experienced while traveling–and then the poor illustrator had to draw it all! It took weeks to get it really right. And it seemed like such a simple idea when we first thought it up (that seemed to happen a lot).
O’Shea: Were either of you fans of the TV show MacGyver growing up?
Derek: Of course! I’m still a fan.
O’Shea: Are you excited about the possibility of expanding the popularity of the Show Me Brand with the new iPhone app?
Lauren: Yes! Show Me How is perfect for mobile apps. There have been so many times when I’ve been out doing something and wished I’d had Show Me How handy for quick reference, and this will be much easier than lugging the book around!