Today on the OneFour KidLit blog we’re welcoming, Corey Ann Haydu, author of OCD LOVE STORY. This is shaping up to be an amazing year for young adult contemporary fiction! Here’s the short version of Corey’s story:
When Bea meets Beck, she knows instantly that he’s her kind of crazy. Sweet, strong, kinda-messed-up Beck understands her like no one else can. He makes her feel almost normal. He makes her feel like she could fall in love again.
But despite her feelings for Beck, Bea can’t stop thinking about someone else: a guy who is gorgeous and magnetic… and has no idea Bea even exists. But Bea knows a ton about him. She spends a lot of time watching him. She has a journal full of notes. Some might even say she’s obsessed.
Bea tells herself she’s got it all under control, but this isn’t a choice, it’s a compulsion. The truth is, she’s breaking down… and she might end up breaking her own heart.
Tell us a little bit about your path to publication. Was OCD Love Story your first novel?
When I was first seeking publication I queried with a different novel, my first YA attempt that I had written during my first semester of graduate school at The New School. It’s a novel I still love, and it got some interest from agents, but they all pretty much wanted to know what else I was working on. One agent, Victoria Marini, gave me a big revision to do on that novel, which I took a lot of time to work out. After I turned that in to her, she also asked if I had any other projects I was working on. Luckily, the querying process was a very long, drawn out one, so I had already written 100 pages of another novel, OCD LOVE STORY! Victoria had a good feeling about our compatibility and wanted to see those 100 pages even though I was honest with her about how rough and new they were.
Between the revision I did for the other novel and the potential she saw in OCD LOVE STORY’s first 100 pages, Victoria ended up offering representation. We had a really special bond right away, a great ability to communicate and work together, and that was the key for me. we built an author-agent relationship based on mutual enthusiasm and a willingness to work hard together.
OCD LOVE STORY found a home pretty quickly, I think because Victoria and I both had a strong sense that Anica Rissi at Simon Pulse was the right editor for the book. All three of us shared a similar vision and, again, a willingness and interest in elevating the manuscript I had into the book it finally became.
What compelled you to write a character who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
I have struggled with an anxiety disorder for years. It wasn’t until maybe four years ago, however, that I learned that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was an anxiety disorder as well. I had always bought into the misconception that OCD was a more “psychotic” disorder, something impossible to understand. But when I delved into research, I quickly learned that OCD was just like any other anxiety disorder. OCD is simply a method of coping with anxiety. The people who struggle with it are completely aware of their disorder and the destructive effect it’s having on their lives. I related so strongly to the struggles of people with OCD because of my own anxiety that I felt compelled to write a character struggling with it. I knew it would be easy for me to access to emotional journey of someone with an anxiety disorder, and I was really excited to write about something that has been so wildly misrepresented for so long.
What was the most challenging thing about writing Bea? Beck?
Honestly, Bea came very easily for me. She and I exhibit very different behaviors, but our interior lives aren’t so different. I found it pretty easy to slip into her mindset. I naturally sunk into her frustrations with herself and with brain. Sometimes it was harder to write Bea’s interactions with other people, since often her interior life was so full and overwhelming. Living in her mind was easy, figuring out how she talked to her friends or boys was a little harder.
Beck was a little more difficult, simply because I wasn’t living inside his brain. We only see Beck through Bea’s eyes, and that makes it more complicated to give him a full personality. He is hiding a lot of secrets, and as the author I of course knew what they were, but Bea doesn’t, so that was a huge challenge.
You have a BFA in Theatre? What parallels do you find between dramatic arts and creative writing. Do you feel your work in theatre informs your writing?
I think working in theatre has had a huge impact on my writing. In general, what comes most naturally to me is emotional honesty in a scene, and my ability to do that comes directly from my theatre training. I studied an acting technique called Meisner, and the basis of that training is that the goal of acting is “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances”. This is the goal in writing, too, I think. Often when I’m writing I’ll take my hands off the keyboard and work myself into an emotional state, the same way I used to do to prepare for a performance. The only difference is that as a writer I have to find the words to record those emotions, whereas when I was acting I had to simply live them out on stage.
I feel so incredibly lucky to have come from that training, and from the Meisner technique in particular, because I think it taught me to much about imagination and honesty and attention to detail. My acting teacher pushed us to be specific and careful in the choices we made for a character’s emotional life, and I hear her voice in my head when I’m writing, too.
And for the final question: as this community is All for One and OneFour KidLit, we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid.
Let’s see, when I was in elementary school, my favorite books were THE GIVER by Lois Lowry– a book that I would still consider my favorite book probably– and Julie Edwards’ (Julie Andrews’ pen name!) books THE LAST OF THE REALLY GREAT WHANGDOODLES and MANDY. I read and re-read all three of those books incessantly. And I definitely had a certain thrill that one of my favorite musical theatre actresses, Julie Andrews, had also written two of my favorite books. It was like a special secret I felt we shared with each other. I was a child actress who loved writing, so I felt really inspired by the fact that Julie Andrews was a writer and actress as well.
As a teenager and I feel head over heels in love with THE BELL JAR. I had a lot going on when I was a teenager, and tended towards darker literature. Sylvia Plath in general really spoke to me. I loved her poetry as well. I read a lot of poetry at that age in general. It helped to have tough feelings explored with beautiful language. It still does!
Corey Ann Haydu is a young adult novelist currently living in Brooklyn, NY. Her first novel, OCD LOVE STORY, is coming out July 2013 from Simon Pulse. Her second novel, LIFE BY COMMITTEE will be out in Summer 2014 from Katherine Tegen Books at Harper Collins.
Corey graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she got her BFA in Theatre. After college, Corey worked as an actress and playwright (and waitress and telemarketer and real estate broker and nanny and personal assistant) She also spent a lot of time in Starbucks writing short stories.
After working in children’s publishing for a few years, and falling in love with YA literature,Corey received her MFA from The New School in Writing for Children. During graduate school Corey rounded out her list of interests with mochas, evening writing workshops, post-it notes, bi-weekly cheeseburgers, blazers, and board games.
| Jaye Robin Brown, or JRo to most everyone but her mama, lives and writes in the Appalachian mountains north of Asheville, NC. She’s fond of dogs, horses, laughter, the absurd and the ironic. When not crafting stories she hangs out with teenagers in the high school art room where she teaches. Her debut novel, NO PLACE TO FALL (Harper Teen, Fall ’14), is a love song to small town girls and mountain music.