I never intended Words on Bathroom Walls to be about anyone but Adam. In fact, when I set out to write this story I was positive that I would keep the view firmly fixed on him throughout, but sometimes these things are beyond a writer’s control. And sometimes after you’ve finished telling a story, you look back and see that you inserted a little bit of yourself, accidentally, between the margins. Adam has a lot of me in him, which is why, without realizing it, I was writing about my husband when I created Maya.
Maya emerges with undeniable confidence, dedication to her work, and fierce loyalty that stretches beyond the usual confines of high school romance. She’s also unapologetically robotic and uninterested in other people’s opinions, which is what makes her so beautiful and what made it so easy for me—I mean Adam—to fall in love with her.
It also made it easy for me to speak honestly in Adam’s voice.
Adam arrives full of attitude and vulnerability, and though he recognizes Maya’s faults, he is sure his faults make him worthy of love. He believes his schizophrenia is the one thing that no one would be able to accept, which is the heartbreaking reason that many choose to hide their mental illnesses.
Maya’s presence in the story is not meant to be Adam’s redemption. He is likable on his own and is certainly worthy of kindness, love, and friendship even without her. Maya’s strength lies in her ability to help Adam see for himself what she and hopefully readers saw all along. That he is worth it.
Obviously not everything about Adam is me and not everything about Maya is my husband, but we were definitely the seeds for their personalities. In a lot of ways their relationship was a love note to my husband—a silent reminder that the people who love us while we write almost always find their way into the story. This is the truth, but it would be impossible to ignore the fact that Words on Bathroom Walls was also a love note to myself. A reminder that we do not have to be perfect to be loved.