Teresa, what was your inspiration for writing THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B?
I know far, far too many beautiful and talented young people who are silently labouring with depression, severe anxiety disorders and OCD. I also meet a lot of young adults who are in pain while I’m touring and finally, I tend to get a lot of letters filled with secrets. I tried to honour them all in some small way with this book.
What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?
I can’t give it away because it would be a spoiler. Suffice to say I’m one of those ridiculous writers who laughs out loud while she’s typing, but there was also a lot of crying over the keyboards for Unlikely Hero.
How long did you work on THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B?
It took about two and half years. I researched Obsessive Compulsive Disorders for almost a year before I started writing.
What do you hope readers will take away from THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B?
It’s in the dedication for the book: You are not alone. No matter what it is, no matter what you think is wrong with you, or how you don’t measure up, I promise, you are not alone.
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
Unlikely Hero is my ninth book. Much to my eternal shock and gratitude-everything I’ve ever written has been published.
Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?
It just happened a couple of years ago. I have made friends with my fear of writing. I’ve tried banishing, raging against and shutting down that fear and none of it worked. I now accept that I write every page with some fear. Fear of not finding the words or that the words are stupid. But now it doesn’t cripple me. I know it’s there, I’ll even remember to greet it or at least recognize its presence and just carry on. Hey, that was a big one for me.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I have trouble sitting still for any length of time which is a bit of pain for a writer. So I wander around the house a LOT testing dialogue out loud, talking out paragraphs as I walk up and down the stairs, in and out of rooms . . .
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Read out of your comfort zone and write out of your comfort zone. It will sharpen your observations and enhance the kind of work you are naturally drawn to.
What are you working on now?
The next book out is part of a brilliant series with 6 other amazing writers. The stories are linked but you don’t have to read them in any particular order. It’s called the Secrets Series and each writer tackles the question of "how much do you want to know who you really are?” My story within that series is called Shattered Glass. I’m currently working on a YA psychological thriller that will come out next year. It’s a twisted and dark story that has just been a ton of fun to write!
ABOUT THE BOOKThe Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten Hardcover Delacorte Books for Young Readers Released 3/10/2015
Deep, understated, and wise, this engaging YA novel, winner of the Governor General’s Award in Canada, is about more than the tough issue of teens dealing with obsessive-compulsive order. It also has romance, and a whodunit element that will keep readers guessing. Perfect for readers who love Eleanor & Park!
Adam Spencer Ross is almost fifteen, and he’s got his hands full confronting the problems that come with having divorced parents and new stepsiblings. Add to that his obsessive-compulsive disorder and it’s just about impossible for him to imagine ever falling in love. Adam’s life changes, however, the instant he meets Robyn Plummer: he is hopelessly, desperately drawn to her. But is it possible to have a normal relationship when your life is anything but?
Filled with moments of deep emotion and unexpected humor, The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B explores the complexities of living with OCD and offers the prospect of hope, happiness, and healing.
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