How You Ruined My Life

How You Ruined My Life

Available now from Sourcebooks Fire in paperback, digital, and audio formats!

How You Ruined My Life is my fifth young adult novel from Sourcebooks Fire. Like the other four, it falls squarely into the category of “really goofy comedy.”

After The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever and Stranger Things Have Happened, I’d considered doing a loose “kids trying to accomplish an amazing creative endeavor under extremely difficult circumstances and a tight deadline” trilogy. Zombie movie, magic show, and then something with a band. But I decided that I didn’t to cover the same territory too closely, so though the punk rock band remains a significant part of the story, the premise of the book is not “kids must put together an amazing punk rock show under extremely difficult circumstances and a tight deadline.” It’s “Rod’s cousin Blake comes to live with him for three months, and he’s the WORST COUSIN EVER!!!”

Actually, my original idea was that Blake was a generally well-meaning guy who accidentally caused all manner of trouble for Rod. I moved away from that idea a bit as I wrote the sample chapters, because I thought there was a lot of comedy potential in Blake being very rich and accustomed to getting his way. I’d called the book Cousin Blake. Pretty much the second I told them the title, my publisher said “Ha ha, yeah, that’s not gonna happen.” I wasn’t all that far into writing it when I found out the marketing department was going to call it How You Ruined My Life. To me, that opened things up to a somewhat darker tone, and Blake became the wretched little creep you’ll see in the finished book.

(TRIVIA: A Bad Day For Voodoo and The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever were my titles. I Have A Bad Feeling About This and Stranger Things Have Happened came from the publisher.)

A Bad Day For Voodoo broke the fourth wall at every possible opportunity, and I’d purposely tried to move to more traditional storytelling for later books so that readers wouldn’t think I did the same thing over and over and over. How You Ruined My Life, though not anywhere near as insane as Voodoo (few things are) has a lot of fun with the idea that you’re reading a book, and the guy telling the story knows you’re reading a book. Silliness reigns supreme.

I think this is one of my funniest books, but I don’t get to decide that. You can let me know if I’m wrong at the beginning of April.


Rod’s life doesn’t suck. If you ask him, it’s pretty awesome. He may not be popular, but he and his best friends play in a band that has a standing gig. Yeah, it’s Monday night and they don’t get paid, but they can turn the volume up as loud as they want. And Rod’s girlfriend is hot, smart, and believes in their band―believes in Rod. Aside from a winning lottery ticket, what more could he ask for?

Answer: A different cousin. When Rod’s scheming, two-faced cousin Blake moves in for the semester, Rod tries to keep calm. Blake seems to have everyone else fooled with good manners and suave smile, except Rod knows better. Blake is taking over his room, taking over his band, taking over his life! But Rod’s not about to give up without a fight. Game on. May the best prankster win…

3 Responses to “How You Ruined My Life”

  1. daveshaver Says:

    Mr Strand Im half way through and this is a splendidly funny book that is making me laugh and be young again. Im 54 and recovering from a serious mental breakdown in October that included *several* unfortunate suicide attempts. By helping me get truly better for the first time in my life, your book is definitely proving once more that indeed Laughter Is The Best Medicine. The next book of yours I want to read is The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever and when there’s a movie of it, my dream is of course to be an extra 🙂

    Thank you very very very much sir for helping me so much with my recovery 🙂

    Kindest Regards,

    Dave Shaver

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeffstrand Says:

      Thank you for that touching message, Dave! Comments about my work tend to be more like “What’s the matter with you???” A 12-year-old asked permission to make a movie version, but I’m not sure when he’ll be seeking extras. 🙂 Can I share your comment on social media?

      Liked by 1 person

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