Q&A with Cara Mentzel!
As you may have heard, Cara Mentzel, Idina’s sister, is releasing a new memoir, “Voice Lessons”, on print and audio October 10! “Voice Lessons”, which you can pre-order now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, and Audible, is “the story of one younger sister growing up in the shadow of a larger-than-life older sister and learning how to live her own life and speak in her own voice on her own terms”. As Cara puts it, “My big sister is Tony Award-winning, gravity-defying, ‘Let It Go’-singing Idina Menzel, who has received top billing on Broadway marquees and who has performed for Barbra Streisand and President Obama, at the Super Bowl, and at the Academy Awards. The world knows her as Idina Menzel, but I call her Dee.” “Voice Lessons” is their story. Listen above for a sneak peek at the audio version or read the first chapter here.
I had the opportunity to interview Cara ahead of the book’s release on October 10. Read on to see what she has to say and to enter to win one of ten copies we’re giving away!
Your new book will be released very soon! How do you feel?
Excited. Grateful. And if it’s possible to be slightly terrified, then that too.
Why did you decide to write a memoir and how did you settle on the sisterly concept?
When Dee was approached about writing a memoir, she came to me. At first, she thought maybe I could write her memoir with her, but then she decided she didn’t want me to do that. From her perspective, having me write her memoir would put me behind the scenes, in a way, behind her, helping her serve her audience, when what initially excited her about having me write was the possibility of giving me my own audience. After some discussion, she asked how it would feel for me to write a memoir about us.
How did your family react when you told them you were writing a memoir?
They were thrilled. More than thrilled really. Mom, Dad, and Dee all told me to write whatever I needed to tell the most authentic story.
How did you come up with the title of the book?
One of my favorite stories was one in which Dee asks me why I didn’t take voice lessons as a child. And so I had this thought that maybe I should take voice lessons and write the book as a series of journal entries incorporating the takeaways from each lesson and the stories that relate to them. As trite as the concept of “voice” sounded to me, it was the unavoidable, overarching theme in the book. Ultimately, the literal voice lesson format for the book felt too forced, but the title stuck.
It sounds like you and Idina were always very close. One part that stood out was when you talked about the moment you realized you had to share her with an audience. These days, you share her with the whole world. Was that a difficult adjustment?
I think you’re referring to the statement I make at end of the first chapter. No matter how old we get—and we’re getting older!—I’m forever the little sister in our relationship, so there have been times when it’s difficult to escape this child in me that needs to be reminded I’m special to her. Having said that, sharing Dee with the world hasn’t felt like an adjustment. I started writing Voice Lessons almost a year before her Frozen fame and a lot has happened in both our lives since then. It’s been an exhilarating and busy time.
On that note, Idina has often spoken about you throughout the years in interviews and in her music. I remember when she used to sing “Rise Up” in concert. How has that made you feel?
Funny you should ask! Both Dee and I address “Rise Up” in the book. As you can imagine, it meant a lot to me to hear that she held me in such high esteem, especially at a time in my life when I was feeling pretty awful about myself.
What were the hardest or most emotional parts to write?
There were a bunch, but Lesson 6: How to Sing a Duet, was definitely one of them. It’s at about the halfway point in the book and includes a bad argument Dee and I had. It was hard to write about because it was really important to me to portray it accurately, to make sure readers understood both our perspectives, and were invested in the resolution. I rewrote that chapter many times over the course of years until it felt as true and raw as possible.
Are you nervous about entering the public eye?
For sure. Nothing like entering the public eye in your 40s, when your hormones are changing and your sleep cycle is screwed up and the vast majority of your thoughts are lost mid-sentence! On the other hand, I’m far more prepared for it than I would have been 10 or 20 years ago. My self-esteem can handle a lot more than it used to.
What do you want people to take away from the book?
The thing is, I know not everyone has a good relationship—however you choose to define “good”—with their sister, sisters, siblings. It’s true Dee and I are close, but this book isn’t about glorifying our relationship with cute stories. I want people to know that even flawed or challenging relationships are beautiful, and very likely, are more beautiful because they’re flawed.
Interested in a copy? Of course you are! Enter to win one of ten copies now:
You can also pre-order a copy now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, and Audible