Wrasaw Sunday

Boy, I wish Blogger wouldn’t insist on being in Polish. Here are photos from a beautiful Warsaw Sunday.

 Wilanow Palace.
Look! I sell Polish pottery!

Chopin in Lazienki Park. What a gorgeous day!

Spike crashes a wedding photo.

I don’t know what these are called. They’re crispy and slightly sweet. We bought them from an old man who had a table outside the park.

Warsaw

Hello from Poland! Here are a few photos from Warsaw, where the weather has been beautiful so far.

Copernicus.

Old Town. It’s hard to believe, but this area (along with most of the city) was demolished during WWII. They rebuilt it very faithfully.

This mermaid is on the city’s seal.

I love autumn afternoon light.

A Trabant. I once rode around Krakow in January in one of these.
This is a multimedia bench. It plays Chopin tunes.
 We went to a revue show, which was very funny.

Please welcome CJane Elliott!


Thank you, Kim, for this opportunity to be a guest on your blog!
Hello all, I’m CJane Elliott and my novel Serpentine Walls is being released by Dreamspinner Press on October 30th.  I’ve published three novellas through Dreamspinner but this is my first novel-length work and I’m excited to share it with everyone.
The novel is a contemporary romance set at the University of Virginia, my alma mater.

Blurb:
Reeling from the news that his parents are divorcing, Pete Morgan starts his junior year at college cynical about love and commitment. Although his new openness to one-night stands does wonders for his sex life, fighting his romantic nature proves harder than he’d anticipated. He soon finds himself pining for a glamorous senior, Aidan, who doesn’t mind taking Pete to bed but shows no interest in commitment—at least not with Pete. And Pete’s attempt at a “friends-with-benefits” relationship with sophomore Jed leaves Pete feeling empty.

One bright spot in Pete’s year is Matthew, an easygoing graduate student who assists Pete in making his first film. Matthew has some baggage too, and has sworn off relationships and sex altogether, so Pete feels safe to enjoy their friendship. But he falls for Matthew anyway, not able to fight his growing conviction that Matthew is the perfect guy for him. Even if Pete can accept that he made a mistake when he turned his back on relationships, that doesn’t mean Matthew will feel the same. With a few life lessons under his belt, Pete’s ready to take a chance on love. As he finds the courage to bare his heart to Matthew, he can only hope that Matthew will take a chance with him.

One of the themes that I explored in this story is the impact of parents divorcing on a young adult.  Everyone talks about how it affects children.  By implication, young adults aren’t supposed to have any problems with it.  That’s not necessarily true, and certainly not in Pete’s case.  He feels keenly the absence of his father even though he’s angry at him. He worries about his mother. The first holidays right after the split are filled with a sense of loss.
This excerpt shows Pete and his siblings going to a Christmas “celebration” at the home of their father and his new girlfriend.
Excerpt:
“Tell me again why we’re going to this,” Pete said to Missy as he drove into the parking lot.
“Because Dad wants to spend the day after Christmas with his beloved children?”
“And make us spend time with him and his mistress? Charming.” Aidan came to his mind, sprawled on the Lawn in his black tee, saying “charming” after Pete told him about the divorce.
They walked into the lobby of the fancy apartment building in Tyson’s Corner that Dad had moved into with Mallory this past September.
“What floor?” Pete asked Missy, who reached around him and pushed an elevator button in reply.
At the door to Dad’s apartment, they paused. Pete gave Missy a funereal glance, and she whispered to him, “Let’s just get through this, okay?” He knocked on the door.
Mallory opened it with a wide smile, standing back for them to enter. She was wearing a festive outfit—a red-and-green plaid blouse shot through with silver and gold thread, bright-green turtleneck, and black velveteen pants. Add in her sparkling red earrings and the gold barrettes in her red hair, and the effect was like a shiny but overdressed Christmas tree. She flicked her gaze over the three of them in their jeans and casual tops.
“Come on in. Gary, the kids are here,” she called. “He just got back from Red, Hot, and Blue.  I hope barbeque is okay.”
“Yum,” Nate said, while Missy gave a quick nod and Pete could barely manage a shrug.
Despite her smile, Mallory appeared nervous. “Um, come in and sit down.” She gestured to the living room, where a small artificial tree stood in the corner and a gas fire flickered in the fireplace. A Kenny G. CD, what Pete liked to call “faux jazz,” was playing in the background. A small pile of tastefully wrapped presents sat under the tree, and the coffee table held platters of cheese and crackers and a bowl of mixed nuts.
They followed her in, Pete and Missy standing in the center of the room while Nate made a beeline to the coffee table, grabbed some nuts, and shoveled them into his mouth.
“Help yourself,” Mallory told him belatedly. “What would you all like to drink?”
Before they could answer, Dad entered and boomed out, “My progeny! So nice of you to grace your dear old dad with a visit!” He was wearing a dorky tie with snowmen on it, and he came up behind Mallory and put his arm around her waist. “You’ve met my three youngest, right, babe?” he inquired, bending his head toward her.
“Of course, what kind of a silly question is that?” She laughed—a tinkling, girlish titter that made Pete want to throw up. He noticed Missy staring at Dad’s hand on Mallory’s hip. “We saw Pete in Charlottesville, and I met Missy and Nate at his basketball game, remember?”
“Okay, good. I can never keep track, what with everyone going in different directions these days.” He and Mallory smiled at each other, seemingly lost in their own world.
“Can I use your bathroom?” Missy asked and walked away before either of them could answer.
After a short silence, Mallory murmured, “I’ll just get the food on the table,” and headed to the kitchen.
“How’s school, Pete?” Dad walked over to the gas fire as if he was about to stir the logs like he used to do at home. He stopped and straightened a plant on the mantelpiece instead.
“Fine.”
“Hey, Dad, did you see the game the other night?” Nate asked. He sat down on the couch and crammed a cracker with cheese into his mouth.
“The Wizards? What did you think?”
“Jones is a moron, man. I can’t believe he missed that layup.”
Pete wandered around the living room, waiting for Missy to get out of the bathroom while Dad and Nate talked sports. He supposed he could go into the kitchen to help Mallory. Fat chance.
“Are Rob and Austin coming?” he asked, interrupting Dad and Nate’s lively debate.
“Rob couldn’t make it. They have Christmas with Jennifer’s family tonight. Austin should be here at some point.”
Yet another reason for Pete to resent Rob—despite acting like he was somehow the favored child, he found every excuse to bail on family events. Missy came back in carrying a beer in each hand, one of which she gave to Pete.
“Ah, you found the beer,” Dad said. “Good. They’re a Texas brew I got special. Only thing to drink with barbeque. C’mon, kids, let’s eat.” He strode out of the room.
“I don’t even like barbeque,” Missy whispered to Pete as they trailed after him. “Trust Dad not to remember that.”
***
Ouch!  Families breaking up can really suck and twenty-somethings aren’t immune to how upsetting it can be.  Pete’s reaction to his parents’ split was to protect himself emotionally and even though he fell in love in spite of this, it took something for him to overcome the fear that was underneath the anger.  Can anyone relate?
More About CJane Elliott:  After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.
To get the book with the full adventures of Pete and friends, go here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4336
You can find me on my website: www.cjaneelliott.com and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CJaneElliott

Many Coming Attractions

I hope you’ll excuse the long post. But I have lots of things in the works right now and I wanted to give you a rundown of what to expect. Mark your calendars and warm up your credit cards! 😉

**October 21, 2013
Steamed Up, a steampunk anthology, releases from Dreamspinner Press. You can preorder at a discount today! It will include my short story “The Clockwork Heart” and 10 other great stories. Here’s the blurb for mine:

Dante Winter makes a living repairing broken things. Socially awkward and rejected by his father over his too-fanciful work, he’s alone in the world. Dante’s life changes when he finds a badly damaged male golem, a lifelike automaton created for service and pleasure. He does his best to fix the golem, whom he names Talon, and comes to find that the creature is very human—perhaps more human than Dante. But when Talon tempts him with something more than friendship, Dante must decide whether a clockwork heart is capable of love. 

**October 23, 2013
I’m fleeing the country and spending over a month in Europe. Tune in here, on Twitter (@kfieldingwrites) and Facebook (http://www’facebook.com/kfieldingwrites) for photos and chatter from Poland, Croatia, and Bosnia.

**November 13, 2013
My novella Housekeeping releases. This is a fairly light contemporary–a bit of a break after the angst of The Tin Box. Paul Richmond is putting the finishing touches on an amazing cover right now. In the meantime, here’s the blurb:

When Nicky Hauser walks in on his restaurant-owner boyfriend having sex with a waiter, Nicky loses his lover, his job, and his home all in one night. Although he’s nearly thirty, he’s never settled on a true career, and he has nothing to show for his years with Tom. Depressed and unable to find work, Nicky ends up couch-surfing with friends until he lands a house-sitting gig for a wealthy family.
When Nicky’s clients discover that he loves to clean, demand for his services skyrockets. Word of mouth leads him to Spencer Cartwright, a busy computer consultant and a slob. Spencer and his wife divorced when he came out, but he’s never found the time or courage to settle down with a man. As Nicky sets Spencer’s house to rights, the two men find friendship. But Nicky’s past experiences make him wary of risking everything on love.

**November 13-16
My self-published novel Equipoise will be available FREE in Kindle format from Amazon. Equipoise is the third book in this dark fantasy trilogy. If you can’t wait until November and want to buy now, I donate 100% of my royalties from these books to Doctors Without Borders. Also, the first book, Stasis, is now available in audio version at Audible, Amazon, and other sellers. The audio versions of the other books will be available soon.


**December 2013
I’ll have a short Christmas story included in Dreamspinner’s holiday package. You can buy the entire package right now and receive a story a day in December. Or you can buy the stories individually in December.

Best friends Scott and Marco meet on a rooftop on Christmas Eve, each temporarily escaping from his difficult home life. With no gift to share, Marco instead promises to someday rescue Scott and take him to Alaska. As the years pass, they meet—first by design, then by chance—on occasional Christmas Eves, only to find life growing increasingly difficult.  They treasure the few moments they have together, but will they ever reach Alaska?

**February or March 2014
My fantasy novel Pilgrimage releases. I don’t have a blurb yet, but this one is about a modern-day Californian who’s zapped to an alternate universe, where he must undertake a pilgrimage to a death god’s shrines. Good thing he has a hunky guide to help him out!

**After that….
I’m collaborating with 3 fantastic authors on a gothic-type anthology. I’ve read their novellas and they are terrific. All very different in setting and all really enjoyable to read. My contribution is about a golem and is set in 18th century Eastern Europe.

I’ve just finished the first draft of my 10th(!) novel. It’s a paranormal involving a ghost, Route 66, and Las Vegas. I’ll keep you updated.

Future plans? I’m going to give NaNoWriMo a shot despite my travel schedule. I think I’ll probably start on the third Bones novel, this one focusing on Ery Phillips.

Whew! That’s a lot! Also, Brute is a finalist at the Rainbow Awards (winners announced in December). It already received Honorable Mention for high judges’ scores. The Tin Box has been nominated as the November book with the Goodreads M/M Romance group. Voting is going on now and I’d sure appreciate your vote!

Inspiration Post #23: Mariposa and the real Jelley’s Valley

I’ve already mentioned that one of my inspirations for The Tin Box was a former mental hospital. Other pieces of the story came from a family road trip. I recently drove that same route, so I thought I’d share a few pictures.

This is the very real town of Cathey’s Valley, California. Population 300 or so. Like Jelley’s Valley, it’s located in the grassy Sierra foothills. (In case you’re wondering about the name of Colby’s town, there’s a real Jelly’s Ferry–no second e–way up north in California. I liked the name.)

This bus stop is right across from the general store/post office (you can click on these pics to see them bigger).

And so is this gas station. I’m hoping the employees at the Texaco are a little friendlier than Donald Hall, who bears some ancient grudge against Colby’s family.

And this, of course, is the store and post office. Colby’s place doesn’t have a name, but the real one is the Oasis. It’s definitely the center of this little town, as well as a handy stopping point for people heading to or from Yosemite. Note the bulletin board outside the post office. Also, my Mini looks a little out of place there, although I can imagine Colby buying a similar car if he ever gives up on Bunny. As for the mail truck on the left, I think that’s exactly what Colby’s aunt drives.

There’s no Mexican restaurant in Jelley’s Valley (but there is a feed store). If Dos Hermanos really existed, it would be right where that sedan is parked. (Yes, you can buy gas at the Oasis too, but not from Colby. He’s busy enough as it is.)

Another shot of the store. Can you imagine Colby popping out that door, maybe joining William for a cold drink at that table?

The real post office is separated from the store by a wall, and the counter isn’t quite the same as in Colby’s place. It’s pretty close, though.

When William wants to do more shopping than Colby’s place allows, he heads into Mariposa, home of the Butterfly Festival. Both Mariposa and the festival are real.

No Frank’s Grab ‘Em in Mariposa–but you can buy Uggs. It’s a cute little place, isn’t it? I love these old mining towns. Highway 49 in California is lined with them.

Imagine Frank’s Grab ‘Em and the Java Joint just across from this gas station. They’re not really there of course, but they exist pretty firmly in my mind!

I hope you’ve been enjoying this series of inspiration posts. They’re going on hiatus for a little while because I’m about to head overseas for several weeks. Instead, I’ll post some pictures here from my travels in Poland, Croatia, and Bosnia. So stay tuned! Also, I have several new releases lined up, so check back here for news on those.

Please welcome Garrett Leigh!

Garrett Leigh has taken time out of a busy schedule to answer some questions for us.

1. I’ve really enjoyed my visits to Britain, but those have centered mainly on London and Edinburgh. What are some places you’d recommend for a visit?
Bath is beautiful historic city, as is York. Leeds is a lot of fun too. My brother went to university there and I spent some wicked, hedonistic weekends up there. I’d also push you toward Wales. Cardiff is a beautiful city and the rural valleys are stunning.
Cheddar Gorge is amazing, but steer clear of places like Stone Henge. I went past there last summer and all you can see is litter bins and a bright orange fence. Totally ruined.
I do think that London is one of those cities that you can visit again and again and never get bored, though. Like NYC, the culture is so diverse and deep, a new experience lurks around each corner.
2. How does your visual art influence your writing, or vice versa?
The cover art I create inspires me in different ways for each book. Sometimes, I need to see the cover before I finish the writing, and others, it’s kind of a carrot to keep me writing until the very end. I did that with Rare, the sequel to Slide. I didn’t allow myself to play with the cover art until I’d finished the damn thing. Also, I get inspired when I do cover art for other authors. I recently did some work for an author I admire hugely, and his stuff is so unique just being a part of it motivated me to think outside the box in my own writing.
In the same vein, sometimes you can’t beat a good browse of book store shelves, both online and physical. If a cover catches my eye, it often stays with me for days.
3. Who are your personal heroes?
Oh, my partner, for sure. Just don’t tell him. John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, and Chip Somers, founder of Focus 12. Rehab, and addiction are issues very close to my heart.

4. What are the last 3 books you read?
The last novel I read was Handle with Care by Josephine Myles, then after that, I’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak peak at some short stories by Aleksandr Voinov I did the cover work for.  I don’t usually go for short stories, by Aleksandr blows me away every time. His stuff is unique and challenges me as a reader, and an artist.
5. Tell us about your current projects in progress.
At the moment, I’m working on getting the manuscript for Gypsy Heart, the expansion of my short story, Gypsy Rain, ready for submission. The draft is complete, and the 9k sip has been taken to a 60k novel, but it needs some edits before I send it off. 
I’m also working on the second instalment in my Blue Boy series with Loose ID. It centres around Cam, a secondary character from the first book, Bullet.
6. What inspired your most recent book?
I’ve just signed a novel, Only Love, with Dreamspinner Press, and Jed’s story was inspired by a soldier who trained a close friend of mine when he served in Afghanistan. The second MC, Max, was inspired by a vivacious young man I read about in the Big Issue many years ago.
Only Love was written and expanded over a number of years, and I’ve had a number of close friends along woth me for the journey, so it will be an emotional time for me when it finally hits the shelves in May next year.
****

Slide (Roads #1)
Don’t look back. Don’t you ever look back… 
Shy tattoo artist Ash has a troubled past. Years of neglect, drug abuse, and life on the streets have taken their toll, and sometimes it seems the deep, unspoken bond with his lover is the only balm for wounds he doesn’t quite understand. 
Chicago paramedic Pete is warmth, love, and strength—things Ash never knew he could have, and never even knew he wanted until Pete showed him. But fate is a cruel, cruel mistress, and when nightmares collide with the present, their tentatively built world comes crashing down. 
Traumatic events in Pete’s work life distance him from home, and he doesn’t realize until it’s too late that Ash has slipped away. Betrayal, secrets, and lies unfold, and when a devastating coincidence takes hold, Pete must fight with all he has to save the love of his life.
Don’t forget to pick up the free accompanying ebook, Marked too!

Please welcome Jake Wells!

Kim, thank you so much for inviting me to be on your blog.  This is my first guest appearance ever!!
Some of my friends have recently been asking me how I happened to end up writing “A White Coat is My Closet”.  It’s hard to say exactly how this odyssey began.  Writing a book has always been one of the things on my bucket list.   When I hit fifty and was forced to acknowledge that my life was approaching the downhill slide, I thought why not start?  And so, with a burst of enthusiasm, I began the project despite having no clue what I was going to write about.  The progress was initially sure and steady and then, at about the forth chapter, I suddenly found myself thinking;    Shit, four chapters down, probably twenty-two more to go.”  I wasn’t sure that I had twenty-two pages left in me much less whole chapters.  Worse, I still hadn’t even begun to work out a storyline.  Things came to a screeching stand still.
What occurred over the subsequent months was surprising.  Despite trying desperately to give up the idea of writing a book, I somehow couldn’t shake it.  Somewhere, in the deep recesses of my mind, the whole story started coming together.   My novel is a work of fiction but it ends up describing issues that are near and dear to my heart.  Because in my real life I’m a pediatrician, I’m extremely passionate about providing health care to children in a compassionate and loving manner.  In addition, I’m a gay man who grew up in a small community and really struggled with accepting who I really was.  Somehow, the combination of those two life experiences found a voice that evolved into a story.

Borrowing from the blurb:
Zack Sheldon doesn’t have time to be lonely. He’s in his last year as a pediatric resident, almost married to the job, and busy with the joys and sorrows that come with providing medical care to children. Professionally, he’s confident, accomplished, and respected. But personally he’s too insecure to approach a sexy man like Sergio Quartulli, or even to imagine that Sergio might be attracted to him.  
Zack spots Sergio from across the gym, and then a chance meeting poolside somehow turns into a date. Before Zack knows it, they’ve become a couple, but Zack’s white coat is his closet at the hospital, and committing to a relationship with Sergio makes it difficult for Zack to continue hiding behind it. On the other hand, he grew up in a small town where being gay was shameful and he works in an environment that can sometimes be homophobic, so it’s hard for him to open up about who he is. Before Zack can make a choice on his own terms, circumstances force him to make a decision. He can continue to hide, or he can step out from behind his white coat and risk everything for love
So there you have it. “A White Coat is my Closet” is cornucopia of experiences playing themselves out in a fictional story while attempting to remain true to those aspects of my life that were fundamentally most important;  seeking self-acceptance, the wonderful and yet challenging process of becoming a doctor, and falling in love.  Hopefully, if you are inclined to read the book, you will feel like you’ve participated in the journey.
It’s also worth mentioning that because I feel so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to have my book published, I’ve decided to play the good fortune forward.  All the royalties from the sale of “A White Coat is my Closet” will go to the HOMELESS YOUTH PROJECT at the LA GAY AND LESBIAN CENTER.  By purchasing my book, you are not only lending your support to my dream of becoming an author, but are also contributing to improving the lives of homeless gay teens.  As it says in my book’s dedication, sometimes success in life starts with being given a chance.   
Again Kim, thanks for giving me an opportunity to send a shout out to your readers.  I really appreciate it!!  
Links:
To contribute directly to the Homeless Youth Project: www.lagaycenter.org/jakewells

Inspiration Post #22: Homosexuality as Mental Illness

In my new novel, The Tin Box, William Lyon finds letters written decades earlier by an inmate in a mental asylum. The inmate’s name was Bill and he was committed in the late 1930s—for being gay.

 

I wish I could say that Bill’s commitment and the things done to him in the name of “treatment” were products of a writer’s imagination. But they’re not.

 

In the 19th century, the new science of psychology called homosexuality “sexual inversion.” In 1922, the book The Homosexual Neurosis claimed that gay men were narcissists who hated and feared women. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual—the book used to diagnose mental disorders—classified homosexuality as a mental illness until 1973. People could be committed to mental hospitals simply because they were gay, and while they were there they might be subjected to many horrible things including shock treatment, insulin comas, castration, and lobotomy. Gay people were also subject to criminal prosecution—laws that weren’t held unconstitutional in the US until 2003.

 

These atrocities happened outside the US as well. Alan Turing, British cryptographer and father of artificial intelligence, was forced to undergo chemical castrations because he was gay. He ended up committing suicide. In the 1950s, Dutch teenagers were castrated by the church.

 

Homosexuality is no longer classified as a mental disorder. But despite that, and despite the professional organizations’ statement against it, some people still receive “conversion therapy” intended to “cure” them of being gay. California recently outlawed this practice for minors. A man in California recently went to a doctor for a physical and was diagnosed as being a “chronic homosexual.” His doctor claimed homosexuality is still considered a disease (http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Manhattan-Beach-Doctor-Diagnoses-Patient-Gay-Homosexual-Behavior-218943481.html).

 

Here are a few related articles:

http://www.aglp.org/pages/LGBTMentalHealthBibliography.php#anchor06


Next week: Mariposa and the real Jelley’s Valley

Please welcome H. Lewis-Foster!

Thanks very much for having me on your blog, Kim!
I’m really excited about the release of my new erotic romance Northern Relations. If any of you have read my recent Scottish story To Protect the Heir, you’ll know my writing has taken a bit of a historical turn of late. In previous stories, I’d sort of stuck with the old adage ‘write about what you know’. While I don’t have personal experience of being a professional ballet dancer or doctor, I have kept my stories in the present day. It felt comfortable to know what characters would wear or eat, and how they would communicate, because it’s what we see and hear every day.
So starting to write historical fiction was a little daunting. I like to keep my stories as realistic as I can (although I’m sure readers will be able to point out a few inaccuracies!), so it was time to do some research. Initially, I thought it might be a bit of a chore, but it was actually really good fun. The internet is obviously a wonderful source of information, and I am very grateful to those generous people who take the time to put their research at the world’s disposal. Of course, it took a while to sift through all that information and come up with the most truthful picture I could.
One of the most important aspects of creating a historical world is the clothing the characters wear. Finding the correct terms, colours and materials can be quite a challenge, but I think it’s worth it, as once you’ve got a picture in your head of how the characters are dressed, it’s so much easier to get inside their world. When Edward and Charlie don their tailcoats and breeches in Northern Relations (and yes, they do spend a lot of time without them on, too), their words and actions follow far more easily.
On top of that, there are details of architecture, travel and food, which build a world in which readers can hopefully lose themselves and believe they are in Regency London or 16th century Scotland, or an Edwardian country house in a story which is coming out later this year.
Having said all of that, my debut novel Burning Ashes, which is released in a few days’ time by Dreamspinner Press, is very much set in the present day. (It’s about two cricketers, just in case you’re wondering about the title!) So I haven’t lost myself in the past completely, but it’s nice to visit from time to time.                  
Author Bio:
H. Lewis-Foster has worked with books, in one form or another, since leaving university. As a keen reader of gay fiction, she decided to try writing herself, and is now the proud author of several short stories and an upcoming debut novel.
H. has lived in various parts of the UK and has recently moved to the north of England, where she’s enjoying city life, especially the theatres and cinemas. She tries not to watch too much television, but is a big fan of Downton Abbey, and while she’s writing, she loves listening to Test Match Special (where they spend far more time talking about cakes than cricket!)
You can find out more about H. and her books at:
Northern Relations
by H. Lewis-Foster
Amber Allure
Edward, Lord Hadnall, leads a hedonistic life in Regency London, along with his friend and occasional lover, Charlie Brabinger. The only blot on Edward’s carefree horizon is the insistence of his female relations that he settle down and get married. He intends to ignore their pestering for as long as he can, and continue his decadent lifestyle of dances and debauchery. But then Edward meets Charlie’s cousin, Arthur Hathwaite, a kind and honourable country gentleman.
Edward accepts Arthur’s invitation to visit his Yorkshire home and is surprised to find life on the rural estate extremely agreeable. He enjoys Arthur’s company immensely and they become firm friends. But when Edward makes an unexpected discovery, he is left in a moral dilemma. Will Edward follow his usual indulgent urges or do the right thing for once in his life? Or might he be lucky enough to do both?    

Inspiration Post #21: Treatment of Mental Illness

In my new novel, The Tin Box, William finds a series of letters written in secret by a man who was locked up in a mental hospital in the 1930s. Unfortunately, the treatment of mental illness has a long and very painful history.

I think I first became interested in the topic when I was in graduate school and we watched a documentary called Titticut Follies. The film was released in 1967, and it shows the inside of a Massachusetts hospital for the criminally insane. It was difficult to watch when I first saw it. I recently watched it again, and it was still very painful.

Until recently, people in the U.S. could be fairly easily hospitalized for a wide range of “conditions”–including homosexuality (more on that next week). And until modern pharmaceuticals were available, treatments were barbaric. All of the things mentioned in The Tin Box were really used: insulin shock therapy, electroshock, lobotomy. I think these procedures were born more out of desperation than cruelty, but the results were often terrible. In the 1940s and 1950s, tens of thousands of people were lobotomized in the US alone.

By the 1950s, the invention of new drugs helped pave the way for more humane and effective treatments, as well as less need to institutionalize people. However, the drugs created problems of their own. They are often overused or misused, and patients often don’t receive the outpatient care they need. Among other things, this means that quite a few mentally ill people end up in the prison system, which is poorly equipped to deal with them. Over 25% of inmates in US prisons suffer from a mental illness.

The Tin Box has a hopeful message for the future, but I think it’s important to remember where we’ve been and acknowledge where we are.

Some resources for more information:
http://www.toddlertime.com/advocacy/hospitals/Asylum/history-asylum.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobotomy
http://www.npr.org/2005/11/16/5014080/my-lobotomy-howard-dullys-journey
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b016wx0w
http://www.nursing.upenn.edu/nhhc/Pages/HistoryofPsychiatricHospitals.aspx
http://www.squidoo.com/mental-illness-and-hospitals-a-dark-scary-history-
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/diseases/early.html

Next week: Homosexuality as mental illness