Merriam-Webster defines “misanthrope” as “a person who hates or distrusts humankind. ”
While author Chris Turner-Neal has adopted the descriptor for himself, his definition is a bit more relatable.
“Anyone who’s ever just been frustrated with other people, with how the world works. If you’ve ever waited in line, watched the news, if you’ve ever looked at your fellow man and said, ‘Who the hell are these people?’”
If you’ve experienced those frustrations, Turner-Neal’s new book may be of some assistance: “The Misanthrope’s Guide to Life (Go Away!).”
Hitting the shelves Sept. 18, the book is the first for the out Philly writer.
A native of Texas, Turner-Neal moved to Philadelphia two years to work on his master’s degree in history at Villanova University, which he attained earlier this year.
But his prime passion is writing.
Last year, he came on board as a blogger on a friend’s site, “2 Birds, 1 Blog,” and he and co-blogger Meghan Rowland began brainstorming for a way to get their misanthropic musings to a larger audience.
“We’d been enjoying the blog, but we wanted to get to the point where we weren’t just writers who write when they can but do so for our main income,” he said. “We kicked around some type of etiquette guide, and then a publisher happened to call us and that idea was really for a similar project. You can call it divine intervention.”
The “guidebook,” published by Adams Media, includes advice for managing your curmudgeonly ways in relationships, interactions with family and friends or an average day about town, suggesting clever and comedic techniques for avoiding unnecessary conversations.
For a self-professed “misanthrope,” writing a book with another person may seem antithetical, but Turner-Neal said the collaboration wasn’t challenging.
“When you’re working with someone, so things don’t get tense you do have to make sure you pay attention to their ideas and not steamroll things with your own,” he said. “And you have to be polite, but honest. You have to be able to say, ‘I can see where you’re going with this, but I don’t think that’ll work.’ You have to strike that balance between being confident enough to put your ideas out there but not hijack things with your ego. But Meg and I work really well together and just understand how our partnership functions.”
The tougher part, Turner-Neal said, was conveying the writing process to their loved ones.
“It was hard to get privacy and to get people to recognize that writing is legitimate work,” he said. “It’s something people think that you do when you’ve just got a couple minutes here and there but it’s really arduous. We have to be isolated and really focus.”
The finished product, however, is rewarding, Turner-Neal said.
The book has only been available online but has gotten positive feedback so far, such as an Amazon commenter who raved that “this book was so good, if I went to prison with the authors, I would protect them in the shower.”
With one book under their belts, Turner-Neal and Rowland have already turned their attention to projects two and three, “Brainwashing for Beginners” and “It Seemed Like A Good Idea.”
“We’re working on these books and just hoping to expand as authors,” Turner-Neal said. “Writing for TV is a real dream but as far as where we are now, we’re happy to keep working on these humor books and just keep writing.”
And while the message of “The Misanthrope’s Guide” may seem caustic to some, Turner-Neal said it was created with diversity in mind.
“It wasn’t written to offend anyone but with an eye toward equal-opportunity offense so everyone has a chance.”
For more information on the book, visit www.adamsmediastore.com/product/the-misanthropes-guide-to-life/humor.