Without much waffle, here is Tanya, answering some of my burning questions!
BM: Brian and Abigail have faced very different kind of trauma; but how come the manifestations are the same?
TP: This is tricky to answer (unless you want a lengthy paper or even a non-fiction book, but I don’t think anyone wants that!). It’s tricky because it’s complex, and it’s tricky because nothing regarding human psychology and behavior is black-and-white. I’ll try to address it in a nutshell.
While the manifestations aren’t quite the same (Brian has panic attacks, extreme worries, and an automatic impulse to hide from the world, while Abigail has tantrums and alternating withdrawal and developmentally inappropriate attachment patterns), both of them are responding to the world from a mindset of fear and a lack of knowing what else to do (because neither of them was ever taught how to live in the world.) Generally speaking, all people respond to stressors by internalizing (turning the stressor inside) or by externalizing (acting out). Everyone does both, but some do one more than the other. That’s why you see Brian’s panic attacks and Abigail’s tantrums. They’re different, but similar, ways of responding to anxiety and triggers. These are externalizing behaviors. They have similarities because they’re human. But there are differences because each individual human is unique. (For example, Brian has, among other things, generalized anxiety disorder. That disorder (like all others) has defining features, but exactly how those features manifest is different for every single person who lives with GAD. This is why Brian and Abigail have both similarities and differences.
BM: Are you the patient or the counsellor? Whose character has drawn greater inspiration from your life?
TP: I’m both! I’m credentialed as a nationally certified counselor (US), and I’m also a patient. I have bipolar disorder and have dealt with anxiety issues as well. Brian definitely has drawn inspiration from my life. He’s not autobiographical in the least, but the anxieties I’ve dealt with made it natural to portray Brian. His thought processes are very similar to what my own have been!
BM: What’s next?
TP: I’m well into a novel about a character who has dissociative identity disorder. It’s about him as well as his family and a close friend. It’s the story of what DID is really like (as opposed to the way its portrayed in film) both for people who have it and for those in their lives. It’s really fun to write, but it’s a challenge. I can’t stop now because I’ve thoroughly bonded with the characters. I’ll face the challenge and (hopefully) do their story justice.
Part 1 is here! I do think she is a brilliant writer and the research that went into her book shows.