By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
Daniel, unbeknownst to him, has severe obsessive-compulsive disorder – he avoids writing the number four, flips light switches on and off, over and over. And one day, his life changes when a new girl at school, nicknamed Psycho Sarah, comes to Daniel and asks for his help.
It is this beginning and the story that follows – captured in the pages of the novel OCDaniel – that has led to Oshawa’s own Wesley King being nominated for best juvenile work at the Edgar Awards, an annual recognition by the Mystery Writers of America.
King, one of half a dozen authors nominated in his category, is the lone Canadian.
“It was surprising. The book is not a prototypical mystery, but there is an element of mystery to it,” King says.
“As the only Canadian to be nominated for that American award this year, it was nice they gave a nod to at least one of the Canadian authors.”
King says that OCDaniel has a number of facets to it, hoping to hit readers from multiple angles.
“It’s a bit of a coming of age story, it’s really targeted at opening discussions about mental illness in kids,” he says. “And yes, there’s also a bit of a mystery to it as well.”
This is not the first time King has found himself on a nominees list, with his past works having been in the running for the Red Maple and Silver Birch awards, both of which are from the Ontario Library Association. In fact, his novel The Vindico won the Red Maple Award – which recognizes books for those in Grade 7 and 8 – in 2013.
King says it was a nudge from a teacher that led him to become an author.
“I was always writing growing up, maybe a bit of an overactive imagination. So I always had stories floating around, but I suppose it took a little bit of confidence, which it does for most people. We know the type of business we want to get in to, but don’t always know if it’ll work out,” he says.
“Sometimes, it just takes a little boost of confidence, and my came from a particular teacher who told me I need to pursue this. Ever since then, it’s continued to flow on from there.”
Although he now lives in Nova Scotia, King says that his time growing up and living in Oshawa is what took him to the career that he is in today.
“The school system there was fantastic growing up,” he says.
“This sort of creativity was always encouraged, which isn’t always the case in all the school systems.”
For 2017, the author says he has three more books coming out, with another five the year after.
The Edgar Awards will be awarded at a ceremony in New York City on April 27.