Helen Barbour was born and brought up in Lichfield, Staffordshire, and now lives in North London. She began her working life as a journalist on the Express & Star evening newspaper in Wolverhampton, and has written for the lifestyle magazine, Complete Wellbeing, and for the mental health charities Mind and OCD Action. She blogs as The Reluctant Perfectionist about living with obsessive-compulsive disorder, perfectionism and anxiety. Helen enjoys red wine, live stand-up comedy and adventurous travel and experiences, which have included trips to the Arctic, ballooning and a tandem skydive. Her life's ambition is to figure out what 'good enough' means. 'The A to Z of Normal' is Helen's first novel.
Clare loves her boyfriend, Tom. So why is she panic-stricken when he asks her to marry him? Because marriage means living together. And that means he will find out what she's really like ... In 'The A-Z of Normal', Clare inhabits a world in which extreme order and ritual rule. She arranges her belongings with military precision. The simplest of acts have to be done in a particular manner with dizzying attention to detail. It's no wonder that keeping her compulsive behaviour secret from those closest to her proves exhausting. She wants to change. She tries to change. As she searches for a 'cure', however, her life becomes ever more complicated and, at times, she appears bent on throwing away her happiness. The way she is going it seems less and less likely she will ever make things work with Tom. Helen Barbour understands the nature of obsessive behaviour and writes about it brilliantly. She explores a tricky subject with sharpness and humour. I found myself willing Clare on, wishing she could free herself from the stranglehold of her destructive compulsions. 'The A-Z of Normal' is a funny and poignant story. If ever anyone deserves their happy ending, it's Clare. - Maria Malone, author and ghostwriter (Cheryl Cole, Tony Hadley, Eamonn Holmes, Mica Paris)