Author Interview - Abby Sher

Saturday, February 6, 2010

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).

Until the age of ten, Abby Sher was a happy child in a fun-loving, musical family. But when her father and favorite aunt pass away, Abby fills the void of her loss with rituals: kissing her father's picture over and over each night, washing her hands, counting her steps, and collecting sharp objects that she thinks could harm innocent pedestrians. Then she begins to pray. At first she repeats the few phrases she remem-bers from synagogue, but by the time she is in high school, Abby is spending hours locked in her closet, urgently reciting a series of incantations and pleas. If she doesn't, she is sure someone else will die, too. The patterns from which she cannot deviate become her shelter and her obsession.

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.

Without further ado...the interview!

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 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?! ;)


  1. Here via the Saturday Network :-) This does sound like an interesting memoir - great interview! It's always nice to see blog interviews where the interviewer has clearly tailored her questions towards the subject, rather than sending the same questionnaire to everyone.

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  3. :O Wow, congrats on winning Hush, Hush! That's amazing, Melissa! :D

    And great interview! I love the last part, in which she says thank you for the things people with OCD have done. Also, I just added Kissing Snowflakes to my wishlist :)

  4. My daughter has this book on her shelf, though neither of us has read it yet. OCD has been a huge part of our lives, so reading this book will probably be important -- though difficult -- for me. Great interview!

  5. Great interview, I have a friend who has OCD so I think I'd find this book really interesting. I'm going to have to check it out :o)

  6. What a wonderful interview! I'm going to have to check out this memoir.

  7. what a great interview! great questions!

  8. I always love your interview questions :)

  9. Thanks for participating in The Saturday Network!

    And, wow, the premise of this book sounds riveting. Great interview, and I'm glad Abby Sher was able to weave a bit of humor in such a serious topic. :)


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