I often receive emails from readers who tell me how much they enjoyed SOMETHING MISSING because of the sympathetic and honest portrayal of a character who is suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder. These same readers frequently ask how I managed to capture the condition so honestly and accurately. The question comes up a lot at my author appearances, too. My standard response goes something like this:
After finishing the book and passing out manuscripts to my friends, I began to get feedback, and this included many readers saying things like, “Wow! Martin’s completely OCD. Huh?”
Or, “I love the OCD stuff. It adds a lot of humor to the book.”
At first I thought that these comments were aberrations. Then my agent pitched the book as a story about an obsessive-compulsive burglar.
In speaking with directors, show runners and writers from the film industry, I've heard the same thing. In fact, these people often compare Martin to Monk, the OCD detective from the cable television series of the same name.
My initial reaction to all these OCD-declarations was the same:
Martin’s not OCD. He’s like me.
I tried to explain to people that in developing Martin’s character and the way in which he approached his job, I simply attempted to envision how I would approach burglary if it were my chosen profession. Martin’s routines and rituals are not obsessive compulsive. They are logical and effective. They represent forethought, planning and a keen understanding of oneself.
In my mind, Martin’s quirks are my quirks. His philosophy is my philosophy. His desire for an organized garage and a home of empty surfaces reflects my own desires for the same.
Martin’s not obsessive-compulsive, because if he were, I would be obsessive compulsive.
Instead, I like to think of myself as a high organized minimalist who utilizes routines in order to increase efficiency.
Unfortunately, I suspect that Martin might say the same thing about himself, and according to everyone but me, he is most definitely obsessive-compulsive.