Monday, June 27, 2011

A FEW QUIRKS by Stasia Ward Kehoe

AUDITION author Stasia Ward Kehoe stops by to share her own quirks.  Rene, from A SCARY SCENE IN SCARY MOVIE, isn't alone:
If you, like me, grew up as a performer, you are likely to have accumulated a bunch of obsessive little habits by the time you reach some form of adulthood.  You pick up classic rules of superstition, like dancers wishing luck backstage with the word “merde” (It’s French for, uh…maybe just look it up!), and never saying the title of “the Scottish Play” (By Shakespeare…you can ask Google or Bing, if you’re so inclined) aloud in a theatre for fear of dire consequences.  And you are inspired to create pre-performance rituals of your own. I suppose you can say I have been thoroughly schooled in anxiety-growing techniques since childhood. Here for your enjoyment are some of my current quirks, both personal and writerly.
1.       I keep a two-dollar bill in my wallet.  Have for decades.  I got the bill on a date with my then-boyfriend (now husband).  We were touring Monticello and they gave them out as change.   Many years later, I discovered he kept his, too! Are we matched or what (or maybe it’s dangerous have two such compulsive people in one house)?
2.       I find the number 13 to be lucky and it always bums me out that there are no 13th floors in hotels.  Maybe I’m just contrary.
3.       I talk too fast (especially when I’m nervous) so, before I embark on any public speaking engagement, I eat a Werther’s Original caramel in the odd belief that this will somehow slow me down.  (I seem to have quite a collection of food fetishes.  See #2, below.)
1.       I wake up around 4:30 every morning (I do not need an alarm clock for this—just happens) and jot down a few lines about my writing plans for the day.  Then I try to go back to sleep.
2.       I believe I write better if I have a small dish of bittersweet chocolate chips and unsalted peanuts on my desk.  When the writing is going poorly, the dish is empty before noon.  If I’m on a roll, the chocolate can sit there for a week.
3.       I never allow myself to write the words “the end” on a manuscript until I really believe I’ve finished telling the story.  Sometimes it is years before those words are entered into a document.
On a serious note, despite the sleep deprivation, chocolate weight-gain, and so on, I try to remember to be grateful for my habits because they make me who I am and, I hope, in some strange way, enable me to be a more thoughtful, more compassionate person and writer.
Thanks, Matt, for inviting me to post today, for your terrific debut novel, and for bringing this conversation about OCD and anxiety out into the “movie spotlight.”
Stasia Ward Kehoe’s debut YA novel, AUDITION, will be published by Viking on 10-13-11.  Visit her online at

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