Welcome to the next stop on the Lexapros and Cons Blog Tour! I have a fabulous guest post from the author Aaron Karo. But first, a little about the book…
Chuck Taylor’s OCD has rendered him a high school outcast. His endless routines and habitual hand washing threaten to scare away both his closest friend and the amazing new girl in town. Sure he happens to share the name of the icon behind the coolest sneakers in the world, but even Chuck knows his bizarre system of wearing different color “Cons” depending on his mood is completely crazy. In this hilariously candid debut novel from comedian Aaron Karo—who grew up with a few obsessions and compulsions of his own—very bad things are going to happen to Chuck. But maybe that’s a good thing. Because with graduation looming, Chuck finds himself with one last chance to face his inner demons, defend his best friend, and win over the girl of his dreams. No matter what happens, though, he’ll have to get his hands dirty. (from goodreads)
One of the aspects of Lexapros and Cons that caught my eye was the fact that the main character has OCD. I was really interested in reading about him and how it affects his life. Aaron Karo is here to talk a little more about this aspect of the book. Thank you Aaron!
An old joke about OCD is that it should be called CDO – that way the letters are in alphabetical order. But for people who struggle with OCD, order, or lack thereof, is probably the most important issue in their life. As is the case with Chuck Taylor, the protagonist ofLexapros and Cons. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is really putting a cramp in his style. Lexaprosis my first YA novel, and when I started working on it a lot of people asked me if it was going to be an “issue” book. First, I Googled issue books to find out what that even meant. Then, I answered a resounding No. In my opinion,Lexparosisn’t really “about” OCD. I fancy it more of a comedic, coming-of-age love story. It just so happens that the main character has OCD. Chuck is generally more concerned with winning over his crush, Amy, than he is about working on overcoming his symptoms. In fact, the latter only occurs in an effort to accomplish the former. The reason I really liked using OCD, something I struggle with as well, as the backdrop for the novel is because the symptoms can be so varied. For instance, when you think of OCD, you think of the very well known symptoms: washing hands, making sure everything is neat and in order, and making lots of lists and counting. Those are definitely some prominent OCD symptoms, but they are only the most overt ones. Some of Chuck’s toughest struggles are over the less well-defined, “internal” symptoms. He is in a constant state of anxiety. He has trouble sleeping. Basically there are a lot of things wrong with Chuck that outside observers – including his best friend, his parents, and his psychiatrist – don’t even realize. To me it’s those internal battles that make for the most entertaining conflict. Another interesting aspect about writing a character with OCD is that many people don’t realize that OCD sufferers are fully aware of what is going on. In other words, someone who counts to 100 before going outside because she’s afraid the house will burn down is fully cognizant that what she’s doing is “crazy” and has no connection whatsoever with the house possibly burning down. But she does it anyway because it makes her feel better. Hence the vicious cycle of obsession and then compulsion. So it was important to me for Chuck to make clear that he knows his actions are bizarre and pointless, but he just can’t help it. Lastly, a few times in the book, a character says to Chuck, “I have a little OCD, too.” This is another crucial aspect that I wanted to touch on, which is that everyone “thinks” they have OCD. Sure, everyone has their little tics or things they triple-check, but as Chuck will tell you, that doesn’t mean you actually suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder. In fact, those with OCD hate when you say that, because they think it diminishes their suffering. Chuck was a difficult yet thrilling character for me to write. He is very firm about what he considers OCD behavior, who he reveals it to, and when they can judge him. In essence, he has very strict rules about his condition. You might even say he’s a little OCD about it.
In 1997 Aaron Karo wrote a funny email from his freshman dorm room that eventually spawned his celebrated column “Ruminations,” the humor website Ruminations.com, and three books: “Ruminations on College Life,” “Ruminations on Twentysomething Life,” and “I’m Having More Fun Than You.” Also a nationally headlining comedian, Karo has performed on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” and his one-hour special “Aaron Karo: The Rest Is History” premiered on Comedy Central in 2010. “Lexapros and Cons” is his first novel.
You totally want to read the book now, don’t you? Thanks to the publisher I have a copy to give away! Open to residents of the US and Canada. Must be 13 years or older to enter. Fill out the form below: