Jessie Sholl's essays and stories have appeared in national newspapers and journals. She is coeditor of the nonfiction anthology Travelers' Tales Prague and the Czech Republic and a contributor to EverydayHealth.com. She holds an MFA from The New School University, where she currently teaches creative writing.
Her new book is Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother's Compulsive Hoarding.
From her Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:
What made you want to write this book?Visit Jessie Sholl's website and blog.
Dirty Secret began—in my head, anyway—about seven years ago, when I happened to tell my husband about how I used to stare out the windows of my elementary school when I was ten; I’d gaze back and forth between my mother’s house and my dad and my stepmom’s, and have very different visceral reactions when I looked at each house. It was just a short anecdote, but as soon as I was done he said, “You know you need to write about this, right?” which of course I laughed off. I couldn’t imagine ever telling anyone besides him about my mother being a compulsive hoarder.
Then, a few years later, I joined the Children of Hoarders support group; the shame and embarrassment we were all carrying around began to seem ridiculous. And unnecessary. I hoped that by “coming clean,” about my mother’s hoarding, the secret would lose its power. And that scene about looking back and forth between the two houses ended up being the first one I wrote for the book.
In recent years, the concept of hoarding has gone mainstream, thanks mostly to television shows like Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive. What do you think about the presence of compulsive hoarding in national media and pop culture?
Overall, I think the television shows about hoarding are a...[read on]