September 13, 2013

Casual Friday: Interview with Author Corey Ann Haydu

Hello Misfiteers!

Happy Friday the 13th. Mua ha ha ha.

We're so geeked to have wonderful author Corey Ann Haydu at our lunch table today! YAY!!

Misfit Erica asked Corey some hard-hitting questions about her recently released  OCD LOVE STORY!

Let's see what she said, shall we?

So as an OCD sufferer myself I have to say you totally nailed what it feels like. What inspired you to write this particular story?

I'm someone who has struggled a lot with anxiety issues, and for a long time I didn't know that OCD was an anxiety disorder. When I learned a bit about it, and saw how it was really just a variation on the same kind of anxiety I deal with, I felt a real kinship with people struggling with it. I felt like learning about OCD and writing a character struggling with OCD was a good way to write about anxiety without writing some kind of memoir or something too close to my personal experience. I'm a fan, in general, about finding ways to write from the heart, and write something very truthful that I'm deeply connected to, without writing my exact experiences. 

I'm so glad I nailed the OCD experience. Like I said, I really think that's because anxiety is very familiar to me, so although Bea's behaviors aren't the same as mine, she copes differently, her experience of the world is pretty similar to anyone who has anxiety trouble. I didn't have to work too hard to get into her head. She's coping, just like I am, in her own ways. Sometimes those coping methods are destructive, and sometimes, when we work really hard, we find better ones. 

It's often felt that with books dealing with real illnesses "issues" if you will, that there's a built in obligation to write the book a certain way. Did you feel that at all writing Bea's story? Did you change anything knowing it would be read?

I actually really stayed true to myself in the writing of Bea's story. It's possible that will get harder now that I've seen responses to my work, but it honestly didn't even occur to me that I might need more of a message or less messiness. Writing a book takes a long time and a ton of work. I'm not sure I could do it if I couldn't be myself. And honestly, readers would be able to see that I think. No one wants to read something fake. My editor helped a lot with structural issues and making the plot and the writing really sing. But I was never asked to change my point of view, or soften things or come to a certain type of ending. 

In writing this, did you learn anything about yourself that you didn't know before?

What a great question. I think I've actually learned the most about myself through listening to readers' responses. Because Bea’s story felt so accessible to me, I assumed it would feel that accessible or, more accurately, familiar to everyone. That hasn’t been the case. I’ve been surprised at the number of readers who report feeling very anxious reading the book, or find aspects of it “scary” or “creepy”. I guess I’ve discovered that not everyone actually struggles with anxiety in quite the same way I do, and it’s funny to think that would be a surprise, but it really has been. Feelings that are downright commonplace for me are unusual and scary for some readers, and that’s been a really valuable thing to learn. We all have very different experiences of the world around us! It’s easy to forget that, I think. I’m glad I’ve had so many smart, open readers so I could come to understand that more fully.

What's your writing regimen like? Do you draft fast? Do you plan it all out?

I have a completely insane writing style. I so so so wish I were capable of things like outlines or plans, but unfortunately that’s not the way my brain works. I write very out of order in first drafts. I’ll think of a scene I want some of my characters to be in, and write that scene, not worrying about how it fits into an overall plot. Maybe three quarters of the way through that first draft, I start worrying about the plot as a whole, and how to make it all come together. This of course means a LOT of scenes get thrown out, a lot of plot points change, a lot of new pages get written, and I spend a lot of time hating myself for not being more organized or clear in the first place. But, as challenging as it is, it’s where the excitement is for me. I like to be challenged, and I like feeling my mind work in overdrive, the way it has to when I’m connecting those dots and finding the heart of the story. It’s a real thrill, and I get the opportunity to have all these crazy epiphanies along the way. There’s not better feeling than suddenly realizing how to make something WORK. I often find I have left a trail of breadcrumbs for myself, even though it felt like I was simply writing random moments.

Who would play Bea, Beck and Dr. Pat in the movie? (I'm so curious about this. I LOVE these characters so hard.)

Oh man! I’m not sure I can answer for Bea and Beck… I do love Dakota Fanning and her little sister, Elle Fanning. Dakota is probably too old at this point, but maybe Elle would make a good Bea? As for Beck, I’m not sure! He’d be a hard one to cast, because his body type is in some ways really in contrast with his personality.

As for Dr. Pat, I’d love to see someone like Holly Hunter or Elizabeth Moss—though I’m not sure either of them is quite the right age. Dr. Pat is solid and grounded but also deeply likeable and warm.

What are you working on next?

Let’s see, I have a few projects going on! My next YA novel, LIFE BY COMMITTEE, is due out Summer 2014. It’s about a girl who enters into an online community and loses control of her life. It’s also about loneliness and how strong an emotion that is. How it can drive you to do unexpected things.  And about the power of secrets—both sharing them and hiding them.

I’ll have a third YA novel out in Summer 2015. I’m still in the looking-for-a-plot stage with that one, but I think it will have something to do with intense, too-fast love, changing yourself, and shifting family structures.

Lastly, I’m trying my hand at middlegrade and magic. It’s a huge challenge but I’m really enjoying it! We’ll see what happens with that project.

I was tempted to make 8 questions, but that would just make me an enabler ;o)

Haha very wise!

Okay, the hard questions are over ;o) Let's have some fun!

Favorite movie: When Harry Met Sally, Fight Club, and this beautiful French film called Love Me If You Dare that makes me seem super cool.

Book that changed your life:  Oh gosh so many! There’s a collection of John Patrick Shanley plays called Welcome to the Moon and Other Plays that I’d maybe say is a book that really changed my life. It certainly brought about a real creative explosion for me. I also was really moved and connected to Mary Karr’s memoir, The Liar’s Club. And I can’t let an interview go by without mentioned The Bell Jar. Other big ones are The Giver, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Why We Broke Up, House on Mango Street.

Best opening line in a book: I love opening lines. I spend way too much time thinking about my own, and to answer this question I did a lot of googling and looking at Best Of lists. I think my favorite (today!) is from 1984: It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
Such brilliance. So much said, such a tone set in those few words.

Favorite line you wrote: I’m not sure if it’s my personal line, but when I first met my boyfriend it was a few months after I’d sold my book. He read a draft of it in our early days of dating, and for some reason was particularly impressed with this line: “Therapists. Always asking the same questions over and over in slightly different ways. They are, like, the Ultimate Thesauruses.”
He still brings it up now, as a line he loves and an example of what he likes about my writing. So I love that line because he loves it. J 

Best book to move adaptation: I think Election is a pretty incredible one. And Gone with the Wind is an all time favorite.

Favorite band: Counting Crows, since I was twelve years old

Thanks so much for stopping by! 

You can get your own copy of OCD LOVE STORY (trust me you want to) via AmazonBarnes & Noble, Indiebound, or wherever books are sold. You can also find Corey on twitter or visit her website!

Okay, Misfiteers, what's your favorite opening line in a book?

Have a great weekend!


Maggie Hall said...

That "Therapists as Ultimate Thesauruses" line IS really good. (And on that note, Thesauruses is a really weird word.) :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Dahlia Adler said...

I loved this book so much <3 I don't think I've ever been taken as far inside a narrator's head before, and while it might not have been the most comfortable experience, it was definitely an awesomely worthwhile one! SO excited for LIFE BY COMMITTEE too!

Anonymous said...

OCD Love Story sounds so good- I love that it's not a "typical issues book." That just makes me want to read it all the more!

Sara at The Page Sage

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