Archive for the ‘#ptsd’ Tag

Psychology with a Paranormal Twist   2 comments

What’s the strangest medical or psychological condition you’ve ever given to one of your characters?

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I worked in a community behavioral health center for 15 years, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that I am fascinated with the workings of the human mind. I also live in a community with a strong military presence, so post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is on parade in our town.

TP Cover Montage

Shane Delaney in Transformation Project was a mercenary, but turning war into a financial exchange didn’t protect him from the pain that follows killing people whose only crime is defending their homes from invaders, of which you are one. He feels guilty, he doesn’t sleep, he can’t talk about it, and he sees things that aren’t there, which are all clinical symptoms of PTSD.

I’m a speculative fiction writer. Throwing in a little fantasy with the apocalyptic feels natural to me, so I’ve added a twist … Galina Greyeyes. She was an ancestress of Shane’s grandmother and a Wyandot woman who does actually appear in the annals of the Wyandot sojourn in Kansas. I created a story of harm and familial haunting for the past century and a half. She appears in different guises to certain men of Greyeyes descent and those men have almost always ended up killing themselves.

Call it PTSD with a paranormal element.

Suffice it to say Transformation Project is not a paranormal series and it is grounded in a reality that could happen, but I like playing with that question of whether Galina is just a figment of Shane’s psychological damage or she’s a demon assigned to a particular family. I won’t say anymore because I’m halfway through the series and Shane isn’t done dealing with his past, but suffice it to say, if she’s a demon, she doesn’t have to be amenable to treatment.

Why PTSD?   Leave a comment

An alpha reader, after reading What If … Wasn’t, asked me “Why PTSD?” He’s read the two books of Transformation Project, where Shane also suffers from many of the same issues that Peter exhibits. So why do I keep going back to that topic?

IImage result for image of quote on pain and trauma changing ust might have something to do with growing up in a military town where a lot of the adults I knew suffered from the psychic wounds of war. My dad didn’t talk about it much, but as a Merchant Mariner in World War 2, he was once part of a convoy of ships going through mined waters. One of the ships blew up. Dad had screaming nightmares for the rest of his life. Based on what he shouted, I guess there were men on fire in the water. How could that not affect his daughter?

I worked as both a court transcriptionist and a psychiatric transcription in my career. I’ve been privy to some of the descriptions I share in the books … though I fictionalized them. Those sort of intimate peeks into the thoughts of others have an effect even on the strongest mind, so in sharing them in fictionalized form, I hope to purge their power over me.

Image result for image of quotes about pain and traumaAs a writer, it is a great way to explain why a character is who he or she is now. By bringing that trauma into the current setting through a PTSD flashback, I give the pain immediacy for the reader. Conflict drives drama. That conflict can be between characters, but I find that some of the best conflict is within a character.

Peter will indulge his trauma more than Shane does because Peter can. Shane is living in a post-apocalyptic world. He doesn’t have time to be in pain. And, thus, I show two different ways of dealing with the trauma. You get to decide which character does it more successfully.

Image result for image of quotes about pain and traumaA part of 12-Step lore is the idea of accepting the things you cannot change, changing the things you can and exercising the wisdom to know the difference. I won’t tell you how my characters work their way to their ultimate victory over their issues or acceptance of them … that would give it away … but this last quote should tell you something about my view of the issue.

Why Literary Fiction?   Leave a comment

I’ve circled back to the story that became What If … Wasn’t several times, never quite sure where it was headed … until I finished Objects in View and really needed a break from my two series. They are ongoing. There will be more books. Fount of Dreams is about 1/3 written. A Threatening Fragility is about the same. But this book needs to be published.

This coincided with a local author friend who writes romance asking me to alpha read her latest, which includes the typical felon who didn’t commit the crime, but gets accused for more crimes because well, he’s a felon, and he wins the girl, is found innocent and lives happily ever after.

It’s probably not wise to ask a non-romance reader to read your romance novel, but I have a really low tolerance for the white-washing of reality. I circled back to What If … Wasn’t because I couldn’t find a single reality-based  prison reentry fiction on Amazon. There have got to be some, but I couldn’t find them.

Things changed in the rewrite. Conditions have changed in the real world since I first began working on this story. I adjusted some of the story to make it contemporary. And, as always, I wrote long in my work-in-progress that I didn’t think I’d ever publish, so I had to remove some material to focus on what was important.

Although Peter is a product of my imagination, his experiences are loosely based on stories people have shared with me or that I was privy to as a psychiatric transcriptionist. I have carefully parsed those stories so that nobody can say I used their story, but all of the experiences are based on real stories.

As I alluded in the earlier post on prison re-entry, this is a HUGE subject in our country right now. I don’t write propaganda. I’m a novelist, not a pundit. But I hope people will learn from my book and come to empathize with people like Peter who made a mistake and is just trying to find his way in the world afterward.

I’ve published four books so far, all in the speculative fiction arena, so this may seem like a stretch for me, but in reality, I started out as a literary fiction writer who dabbled in speculative fiction. So, in a way, you could consider this to be a return to my roots.

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