I don’t jump right back into the story the next time I see Dr. Milton. He’s already leaning forward over his desk, ready for more, but there’s a part of me that enjoys prolonging the suspense and a part of me that wants to talk about something else for a bit. We exchange pleasantries, the usual ‘how are you’ and ‘how are you feeling’, which prompt the responses ‘good’ and ‘meh’. Four window panes reflect like swatches of sunlight across his glasses, and I’m distracted for a moment by the way the lens warps their shapes. Then it occurs to me that I’m staring, and that staring is rude, so I look back down at my feet instead.
“You seem preoccupied,” Dr. Milton asks, hands folding over his notebook. “What’s on your mind?”
“A lot of things,” I reply. “Th e usual things.” Vague. Keep it vague. I pick at a seam in my shirt, annoyed that I can’t quite get it to sit right. “Except… well. I keep thinking about how I was diagnosed. With the OCD, that is. Kind of silly it took me that long to figure it out.”
“Would you like to tell me about it?” he asks.
Somewhere, there is a home video of Kell Smith as a toddler, drawing stories she’d made up about her cats’ secret super-hero identities, a plastic sword stuck in the waistband of her diaper, and that tableau should tell you everything you need to know about her. She has (thankfully) outgrown the diaper, but still loves drawing, still loves making up stories, still loves her cats, and has recently started taking sword-fighting lessons, much to the dismay of those around her. Her childhood heroes were J.R.R. Tolkien and Xena: Warrior Princess, which should honestly surprise no one.
After getting a BA in Art History and Classical Studies, Kell dabbled in the comic book industry as an illustrator, only to find it too isolating and repetitive to suit her as a career. She still takes the occasional commission, but now her focus is on teaching Latin, a language she fell in love with quite by accident and that is altogether too much fun. In between work, grad school, and petting demanding cats, she writes. Some of what she writes is even pretty good.
Kell was diagnosed with OCD at the age of 21 and created Kara as a way of reflecting on her illness. She has often found other media portrayals of OCD to be lacking, relying too much on stereotypes and not truly connecting the outward symptoms with what’s going on inside the person’s head, so Kell wrote Kara’s Law to convey what this illness is like from the inside, while ending on a note of hope, showing Kara evolve past the roadblocks of her illness.
Her cats, all named after Norse gods, like to offer suggestions as she works. Mostly Loki’s suggestions are “fill my food dish, peasant”, but she gave Kara’s Law a purr of approval.
Paperback: 260 pages
Publishing date: January 28, 2019
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
Price: $19.60 (paperback) $7.99 (e-book)
Kell Smith is a Latin teacher/adjunct professor/comic book illustrator who loves words, whether teaching languages, writing novels, or making terrible puns. She graduated in 2010 with a double major in Classical Studies and Art History and is currently juggling work, grad school, and taking care of far too many cats. She is a member of the Providence Writers’ Guild in Rhode Island and has been writing novels since she was ten.