Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Monday, June 13, 2016

An Inside Look #1 (Interview with Elly Swartz)

An Inside Look - With Elly Swartz Author of Finding Perfect

*I'm always thinking about ways to improve and add to the ReadWonder blog.

*It amazes me how far it has come in the last several years, but it is my hope that it continues to grow and improve.

*After reading the novel Finding Perfect, I had some great interactions with Elly Swartz via Twitter.

*I found myself thinking about her character Molly and had questions for Elly about her.

*Several of my Twitter friends have featured author interviews on their blogs and I began to wonder if I could do that same thing.

*I reached out to Elly and asked if she would be willing to do an interview with me about the novel and Molly.

*She was gracious enough to say yes and we went from there.  I wanted to keep it easy, short, and enjoyable for the author.

*Here are the questions I asked Elly and her responses.  I couldn't be more thrilled with this first venture into the world of an author interview...

Elly Swartz's novel will be released in October 2016

How did you come to “know” Molly Nathans?  
I first came to know Molly the way I have come to know most of my characters. I woke up with her in my head and she wouldn’t leave until I told her story! I started writing Molly’s story seven years ago. And when I first began, this story was written in alternating 1st person POV chapters between Molly and Hannah. I got to know Molly through both her and Hannah’s eyes. The way Molly saw herself was very different from the way Hannah saw her. It was in this discrepancy that I found the heart of Molly.

What do you think is Molly’s most admirable quality?
I think Molly has two qualities that I admire most. Her unwavering love for her family, and the strength she does not know that she possesses.

Is there anything you wish Molly would have changed or done differently in her story?
I wish Molly would have confided in someone sooner. It was very hard not to write that into the story, but I felt I had to stay true to the authentic manifestation of OCD in kids Molly’s age. And, as shared with me, they often don’t tell anyone. Sadly, in our society, there is still a stigma around mental illness. Until we work harder to eradicate that, kids will remain reticent to share. We need to do better.

What do you think Molly can offer to other children that suffer like she did?
My hope is that Molly can offer so much to kids who suffer like her and kids who don’t!
I hope children like Molly will realize they are not alone. 500,000 children suffer from OCD.
I hope children like Molly will realize they are not OCD.
I hope all children will realize that no one is just one thing.
I hope all children will realize they are loved unconditionally. OCD doesn’t change that.
I hope all children will realize there is no such thing as perfect.
I hope all children will realize the importance of kindness and empathy.

How did you “research” Molly and the circumstances she found herself in?
It was incredibly important to me to respectfully and authentically portray Molly’s OCD in Finding Perfect. To that end, I consulted with Dr. Paul Cannistraro and Dr. Kathleen Trainor.  Dr. Cannistraro is the former director of clinical pharmacology at Mass. General Hospital OCD Clinic, and Dr. Trainor, the founder of the Trainor Center, has been working with children with anxiety based disorders for more than 30 years, and is a senior psychologist on staff in the Child Psychiatry Clinic at Mass. General Hospital. I consulted with both on the manifestation, diagnosis and recovery of OCD.  And, over the course of four years, worked with Dr. Trainor to specifically authenticate Molly’s symptoms and treatment. Dr. Trainor read and reread drafts of Finding Perfect many times to ensure that I had accurately represented OCD. Additionally, I have people in life with OCD and used many of the books and resources offered by the International OCD foundation to further research the disorder.

Do you and Molly share any similarities?  
Molly and I both have deep, unwavering and unconditional love for our families. But, I think our similarities end there. I actually think I am more like a character named Olive in a new story that I am working on.

What was the hardest scene to write about Molly?
Hands-down the most challenging scene for me to write was the one when Molly’s mom returns. In my mind this scene was going to be unicorns and rainbows. But, when it came time to write it, that scenario no longer fit with the story. Once I understood why Molly’s mom left and how it affected Molly, Kate and Ian, the sunshine reunion felt inauthentic. However, as a very affectionate mom of two sons, writing this scene without the warm embrace I longed for them to have, was incredibly hard.

Who do you think was Molly’s biggest supporter and why?
I think Molly’s biggest fan was her little brother, Ian. He saw Molly, the real Molly, long before anyone else. Ian never cared that she was neat or clean or orderly. To Ian, Molly was simply his big sister and that was all it took to love her so completely.

What do you think Molly is doing as this present time?  

Aw. This is my favorite question. I think Molly has started to realize how strong she is. She’s still doing her CBT, but it’s getting easier. She even took Ian to the farm to ride the ponies. And, she’s still going to group. Now, she and Parker Ray lead the group once a month. Molly has accepted her imperfections and realized that no one is perfect. No one.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this! Wonderful inspiration for an early Saturday morning.