Author Offers Insight on OCD
Bolton School English

Ahead of voting in the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award, Lily Bailey, who wrote When I See Blue, joined Girls’ Division and Boys’ Division pupils as well as Junior Girls from Bolton School in a virtual lunchtime presentation. Over half the audience had already read the book and were eager to hear from the shortlisted author.

Lily told about her early life and struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which, she said, can be about anything. She explained how it felt very noisy in her head and by the age of sixteen she had reached such a point that everything seemed so scary that she could not get out of bed.

Lily also talked about some of her childhood interests including Dr Who, the cinema and arts and crafts and how they had, to various degrees, influenced her storytelling. She explained that she used to work as a journalist and whilst she felt she was reaching adults, she started to want to speak to younger people too.

In When I See Blue, the protagonist, a 12-year-old boy called Ben, has OCD, which is referred to as ‘a bully in his head’. Ben befriends a girl called April and gradually opens up about his condition; as a consequence, he begins to learn about himself. Lily said that through her novel, her first middle-grade book aimed at 10 to 13-year-olds, she hoped people would have a better insight into what it is like to be a young person living with the illness.

Lily fielded a wide range of interesting questions and revealed that one of the characters in the story, April, would get her own book When I Feel Red, which will be released in February.

When I See Blue is one of three books shortlisted for the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award 2024 organised by Bolton School. The other two are While the Storm Rages by Phil Earle and Tyger by SF Said. The winner will be announced in late June after pupils from across the region have voted for their favourite book.

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