Very excited with this week’s author chat as I got the chance to interview Miriam Drori – who actually was my editor on Purgatory Hotel. Herself an established writer, her most recent release was non-fiction looking at the subject of Social Anxiety. Mental health and the study of it has always been an interest of mine, and indeed features in my own work and life and I was very pleased that Miriam was willing to discuss the background to writing her book.
Tell us the basic premise of your book?
Social Anxiety Revealed explains all the different aspects of social anxiety. It makes extensive use of quotes from many people who have experienced social anxiety and who agreed for me to use their words anonymously. This enabled me to show how, despite the similarities, we’re all individuals and that social anxiety affects each of us in different ways.
The book is intended for everyone – sufferers and non-sufferers, because everyone knows or will come across someone who has the condition.
The reviews call it a no-nonsense book that’s well-written and easy to read. I’m glad, because that’s how I meant it to be.
You have previously written fiction – what inspired you to move to this subject?
Ah, it only seems as if this is what I did. In fact, I wrote this book before any of the fiction. The book was inspired by two discoveries: that social anxiety is much more common than many people think, and that most people are unaware of its existence. I became passionate about putting this right by raising awareness of it. If more people knew and understood it, many more sufferers would get the help they need to tackle it.
After I tried and failed to get the book published, I turned my attention to writing fiction and eventually got a romance (Neither Here Nor There) accepted by Crooked Cat Books. That was followed by the historical novella, The Women Friends: Selina, the first in a series and co-written with Emma Rose Millar. When Crooked Cat began to publish non-fiction, I proposed my book about social anxiety and it was published, after being revised by me, in August 2017.
Were you inspired by any personal experiences?
Certainly, and some of those experiences appear in the book. I think it’s what makes this book unique. There are many self-help books that claim to show how to overcome social anxiety and are written by experts. Some of these have proved very helpful for some sufferers, while others have been unable to gain any benefit from them. I approach the topic from the other side of the patient/therapist divide and hence appeal to a wider audience.
How did you research for this subject?
For several years, I belonged to an online forum for social anxiety sufferers. All the topics in the book came up in discussions on the forum. One or two were topics I specifically raised on the forum so that I could include opinions on them in the book.
Do you have a favourite author?
That’s a hard question, as my favourite author changes frequently. I know I particularly like reading stories in which I (the reader) understand more than the narrator. Such stories include The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.
Who would you most like to sit down to dinner with to discuss social anxiety?
My sixth form (years 12 and 13) teachers, who wrote on my school reports that I needed to change my behaviour, making me feel that I was to blame for my problems. I would explain to them, if they listened at all, that I wasn’t capable of changing all by myself at that stage in my life, and that they should have seen to it that I got help, although I expect that would have been asking for too much in the 1970s.
What are you working on next?
I’m back in the world of fiction, but still with social anxiety, as my main character suffers from it. He is overwhelmed, to say the least, when he finds himself on the way to Japan to try and sell a computer system. And that’s not all. Karaoke is also on the agenda!
Wow that sounds fun! Looking forward to reading Miriam’s next book – big thanks to her for letting me interview her.
You can follow Miriam on the links below, and get yourself a copy of Social Anxiety Revealed.