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Author Interview
William Haylon Author Interview

The College Shrink follows a recently divorced woman that takes a job at a college where the students end up helping her as much as she helps them. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

This story was built upon many unspecific tales that I have heard over the past two decades from a person who has spent their life as a college psychologist. It’s a hard job and the challenges are sometimes unimaginable. At the same time, there can be a good amount of craziness and humor working for a college, something I have learned over many years of being a witness to that world. But with the explosion of mental health issues among teenagers, it is a story that was well worth exploring.

Did you create an outline for how Emily would develop before you started writing or did her personality grow organically as you were writing?

Good question, Karen. I had developed an outline before launching into writing The College Shrink. As it is a character driven story, the personalities of each of the people (not just Emily), ultimately drove the story in a different way than I had originally planned. They were rich characters, and I grew quite fond of them. Some of their actions I applauded, and some made me cringe. In many ways, they wrote the story.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

There are many difficult topics touched on in The College Therapist, all of which took a fair amount of research. Anxiety, depression, body image issues, substance abuse, racism, assault, rape, suicide. All of which, unfortunately, are omnipresent on college campuses. And, of course, central to all human beings is the theme of how relationships work in the midst of these difficult topics.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next book is closer to home for me. Where poverty, Asperger’s, pedophilia, and churches make for strange bedfellows. It is a story of a family where dysfunction seems the norm. The manuscript is close to completion. The question is whether I can bring myself to publish it.

Book Review

The College Shrink

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Author William Haylon’s The College Shrink is a stunning piece of literary fiction. The story follows Emily Metcalf, an on-campus college psychologist, as she is navigating life post-divorce. We hear the stories of how she came to be who she is today, particularly how her former husband’s actions affected her. We also dive into the lives of her clients. It’s a true exploration of real-life issues through a beautifully artistic writing style. You will find yourself and others you know in the pages of The College Shrink.

This book starts off with a slow-burn writing style giving readers a chance to know Emily. The detailed and methodical style fits her personality and allows the reader to step into her shoes. Haylon’s writing provides a realistic sense of Emily’s mood and feeling toward her life.

The story-building further proves this when we find out what Emily’s former husband did. She is a woman mourning the life she thought she had and realizing that it wasn’t ever what it seemed. Her story shatters the middle-class American dream illusion. You can see the amount of thought Haylon put into this story strewn across the pages. He carefully chose each word and the sequence in which he told us the events. Everything has a purpose in this story.

I appreciated that the author shows that psychologists do not always have it all together. We often assume the people who are paid to handle the emotions of another human don’t have many of their own. That they are somehow immune from the problems that life often brings. But that couldn’t be further from the truth, and Haylon does an excellent job displaying that fact. Haylon also did well portraying the lives and issues of Emily’s college-aged clients. Writers above the age of twenty can often miss the mark when attempting to realistically portray people under a certain age. I’ve personally encountered young women like Jelly and have heard real-life stories of people in Mana’s situation.

The College Shrink is a beautifully written literary fiction novel with realistic characters that readers can identify with. Dealing with topics of romance, friendship, relationships, and family, there is something in this story for everyone.

Pages: 262

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