“Kody: I think a lot of people think it’s easy to write your own disability, but in my experience, it can be tricky. How was this experience for you? Were there any challenges you faced in writing about a character with OCD?
Rachel: Yes, I found it very tricky. First off, OCD can consist of many different obsessions and compulsions at once, and these are often hard for someone without OCD to understand. Media portrayals of OCD often stick to neat freaks obsessed with cleanliness or germs, but most of my own fears and compulsions were much more “creative.” For example, for years I avoided gum and blueberries like the plague for fear of blowing up like Violet in Willy Wonka.
All the different symptoms in my first draft overwhelmed my early readers and took away from a coherent story arc. My last advisor at Vermont College of Fine Arts, Martine Leavitt, wisely encouraged me to narrow my focus, and at that point I zeroed in on touch. I considered presenting Caddie’s fear as a phobia, but that didn’t fit in with her magical thinking. Eventually, I found a balance by acknowledging that Caddie has other symptoms without spending too much time with them on the page.”
[read the rest of the interview!]
In honor of Disability in Kidlit's one-year anniversary, you have a chance to win a signed advance copy of Rachel M. Wilson’s upcoming YA contemporary novel Don’t Touch, which features a protagonist dealing with OCD. Simply leave a comment on the WordPress post or reblog this Tumblr post. (Yes, doing both increases your chances!) In one week, we’ll select a single winner from one of these locations. This giveaway is open to US and CA addresses.