“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.”
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.
“I’ll start with the verdict: I loved the way Saundra Mitchell writes about disability in The Elementals. Julian Birch, one of the protagonists, has a “withered” leg from a childhood bout of polio, and Mitchell’s depiction of him is one of the most believable, relatable portrayals of disability I’ve come across.
Julian’s disability is present but backgrounded to the rest of the story, which focuses on the mysterious powers that Julian and Kate, a girl Julian sees only in visions, seem to share. As Julian goes about his life — experimenting with his powers, working on his family’s farm, thinking about the girl he hopes to marry — Mitchell often notes the way Julian moves. In an early scene, he “hauled himself up,” “thumped” across a porch, and leaned against a railing for support, and the ways in which he uses his crutches to do things that an able-bodied person might do with his legs (trip one of his brothers, for instance). These adaptations, when described from Julian’s point of view, seem like a thoroughly ordinary part of his life.”
In honor of Disability in Kidlit's one-year anniversary, you have a chance to win a signed hardcover copy of Saundra Mitchell’s YA historical fantasy novel The Elementals. 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 North American addresses.
By Crom! is my joke-a-panel autobiographical comic featuring life advice and spiritual guidance from Conan the Barbarian. It ran from January 2012 to May 2014, and is collected in two books, The Collected By Crom! and Full Colour Cromulence. You can read the archives on WealdComics.com, and grab the books in print and in PDF.
Rachel Kahn’s By Crom! series isn’t only funny, though it is funny, it is also charming and comforting and challenging, panel by panel, in great ways. Get thee this comic.