As promised, I interviewed one of my favourite authors recently, so here it is! Her name is Abby Sher, and she's the author of Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn't Stop Praying (among other things).
In college Abby is diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and while she accepts this as an explanation for the counting and kissing and collecting, she resists labeling her fiercest obsession, certain that her prayers and her relationship with G-d are not an illness but the cure. She also discovers a new passion: performing comedy. She is never happier than when she dons a wig and makes people laugh. Offstage, however, she remains unable to confront the fears that drive her. She descends into darker compulsions, starving and cutting herself, measuring every calorie and incision. It is only when her earliest, deepest fear is realized that Abby is forced to examine and redefine the terms of her faith and her future.
Taken from GoodReads.
1. As it is a memoir, how did it feel to write Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn't Stop Praying (Among Other Things)? Was it cathartic?
It was definitely a turning point (can a point take two years?) in my life, in my writing, in my view of ocd. I'm realizing every day how much this process of getting everything on paper has opened up so much new space in my brain.
2. You find a way to weave humor and a good-natured voice into a very deep book. Is that truly your outlook on life?
Gee, I hope I didn't sound too upbeat. That would suck. No, I think that's really me. At least, I hope so.
3. What compelled you to become an author? Were there specific authors that significantly impacted you?
I'm still stunned that I get to be called author. I don't know that I ever dreamed of that as a little girl. I was obsessed with my handwriting for a while. It got so small in fourth grade that I think my teachers complained. But I loved the way I could say something in all different shapes and sizes. I'm an incredibly slow reader, but I know as an adult I've been most in love with Ann Patchett, Lauren Slater, Aimee Bender, John Irving, and Lorrie Moore.
4. What can you tell us about your first novel, Kissing Snowflakes?
It's pretty fun to read if you want to day dream about first kisses or muse about stepmoms who mean well but just don't cut it.
5. How different was the process of writing Amen, Amen, Amen from writing your first YA novel, Kissing Snowflakes?
Amen Amen Amen is to Kissing Snowflakes as running a marathon through sleet in flipflops is to strolling to the mailbox
6. If I remember correctly, you also perform theatre. If you were forced between writing and performing, which would you choose?
I really hope no one makes me choose. But I guess I would love most of all to write during the day and perform at night. As long as there's time for tickling and bath time with my daughter.
7. If you could say something to those out there who also suffer from OCD, what would it be?
Thank you for keeping those hands washed and switches turned to OFF. Thank you for making sure the earth is rotating at the right angle and there are exactly five steps to the next crack in the sidewalk. And now, your work is done. There is always a safe place to share your world, whether it be a trusted friend, a doctor, or in the pages of a book. The greatest part about OCD is that it can be kneaded and coaxed, a slow loosening, but a loosening none the less.
Thank you so much, Abby! It was wonderful to hear your thoughts! I highly suggest everyone check this book out from the library, purchase it, borrow it...do what you must, but read it. It truly is amazing!
And, for my final closing note: I won a signed copy of Hush, Hush from The Lateiner Gang. I'm so excited! Now I just need to figure out what to do with two copies...perhaps a giveaway?! ;)