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Press release

A Derby writer has drawn on her experience of mental health issues in her debut novel, The A to Z of Normal.

Helen Barbour suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, perfectionism and anxiety, which she has also previously written about on her blog, The Reluctant Perfectionist.

She said ‘There is still a huge amount of stigma around mental health and so I felt that this should be at the heart of my first major fictional work, but I wanted to handle the subject in a very accessible way.’

Helen likened her approach to that of Mark Haddon, whose books include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and A Spot of Bother, in which the central character suffers a mental breakdown. 

‘I write in a similar vein – tackling serious topics, but with a light touch,’ she said.

The A to Z of Normal is about a woman struggling to overcome her obsessive-compulsive behaviour, so that she can marry the man she loves, while also dealing with some difficult family relationships.’

Helen 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.

The A to Z of Normal is available worldwide on Amazon as an ebook and paperback, and as a paperback from and It can also be ordered from all good bookshops and directly from the publishers, SilverWood Books (

It has been reviewed by Maria Malone, author and ghostwriter (Cheryl Cole, Tony Hadley, Eamonn Holmes and Mica Paris), who said: 'Helen understands the nature of obsessive behaviour and writes about it brilliantly. She explores a tricky subject with sharpness and humour and The A-Z of Normal is both a funny and poignant story.’


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