The Lion & The Unicorn

By Tom Ward

A policeman sets out to investigate a murder in a near-future where bad taste is illegal.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Meet The Author: Maximilian Hawker on OCD

This is a somewhat special installment of these Author Updates. Today I'm talking to Maximilian Hawker, who has just TEN DAYS REMAINING to fund his novel Rory Hobble and the Voyage to Haligogen. The reason this book is special to me is because it concerns a boy, struggling with OCD who must journey with his social worker through space to rescue his mother. As someone who struggled with OCD as a child, and still does, I think Max's book is a vital educationl tool, as well as a flippin' good read. Without further ado, let's get into why this book deserves your support!


Rory Hobble and the Voyage to Haligogen is a sci-fi book unlike any other. In your own words, what makes it unique

It certainly is quite an unusual concept, yes! I think there are two things that make it unique. Firstly, the inclusion of a child protagonist whose OCD takes the form of intrusive violent thoughts is something that hasn’t been done before in literature. Secondly, having a social worker as a main character is not something that you tend to see in children’s fiction. Together, Rory and his social worker, Limmy, develop a relationship that allows the reader to understand the reality of both OCD as an aggressive and debilitating illness, as well as the positive results that come from child-focused social work. Sci-fi, as a genre, has long served as a wonderful catalyst for exploring challenging issues and for me it was a no-brainer to make this tale an adventure set in space.

Can you explain what OCD is, briefly, to people who might think it’s just about washing your hands five times before leaving the house?

OCD is a disorder characterised by obsessive, intrusive thoughts and persistent doubts leading to compulsive behaviour designed to alleviate anxiety. It is an invisible illness – at least until many of the compulsions come into play. The stereotype of washing your hands a certain number of times is an example of a compulsion for one type of OCD. But the condition is unique to each person and plays on the things that disgust us the most or, indeed, our own fears. Personally, I suffer with intrusive violent and sexual thoughts that are deeply distressing, but I manage it through therapy and medication. I think my OCD takes this form because the idea of child abuse is what repulses me the most (I do work in children’s social care, after all!), so my OCD ‘knows’ this and uses it to upset me.

The book sounds like a touching and heart-warming tale of escape, and bravery. Which books inspired you?

Wow – so many! I grew up reading the Harry Potter series and so I fall into the clichéd group of writers who are inspired by JK Rowling. Matt Haig and Neil Gaiman are influences also. I adored the sense of a journey in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and that has found its way into my writing. More recently, Ready Player One seeped into my imagination. Funnily enough, the biggest influence for Rory Hobble wasn’t a book at all, it was the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation and Stranger Things, plus the music of Vangelis. I’m a mixed media kind of guy!

You’re partnering with a charity. Tell us about that?

I’ve done advocacy work for OCD Action, who are the UK’s biggest OCD charity, and that has seen me appear on BBC Radio London, JOE, Community Care and My London News, among other platforms. They promote my work as well and will be including Rory Hobble, once published, in support packs being sent out to an initial 100 UK schools to help both students and teachers alike. They’re wonderful people who help a huge number of people in the UK suffering with the condition, and I will be donating 15% of royalties from my book to them in perpetuity.

You’re also offering a fun Easter Egg challenge. Can you explain that?

This is something for the grown-ups who may read the book. I’m a huge sci-fi fan and, throughout Rory Hobble, I’ve littered discrete references to a host of movies and TV shows – primarily from the 80s (one per chapter). There is a very special mystery prize for the person who finds all the references and tells me first. And I do mean a special prize. Those who support my book at the ‘Super Patron Paperback’ level or higher will receive a list of clues to help them on their way.


What do people need to know about Rory Hobble and the Voyage to Haligogen that they don’t already?

I’d like people to know that it has been written with the express intention of giving children with mental health issues – especially OCD – the chance to see a literary hero who resembles them. Also, I think it is crucial that children have the opportunity to see a social worker in a book – and not some daft caricature of a child snatcher. My deadline to get this book funded is 11 March and so I need the support of everyone who can offer it.


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