As a reviewer of my recently published novel, Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home, commented, fiction can both educate and entertain. I’m grateful for how much I have learnt about other cultures and lifestyles as a reader, and aspire to do likewise as a writer. Given the stigma still superglued to the issue, I’m particularly keen to advocate for mental health. But can I? Do I? How would I know if I was?
· the fiction authentically portrays the facts
· the story is sufficiently engaging
· enough people get to read it.
Fortunately, with Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home, I could draw on my previous work experience, but the opinions of other ‘insiders’ further help validate the characters, story and setting. So I’m delighted to have endorsements from mental health nurses, a social worker, a psychiatrist, a professor of mental health and mental health activists. I’m especially honoured to get the thumbs up from readers who have themselves, or a close relative has, spent time as inpatients around the time of the story. You can read some of their comments here:
Getting a novel into readers’ hands is always tricky, especially for small-press published authors like me. So I’ve done interviews for radio, podcasts, YouTube channels and blogs; written articles and guest posts; and reached out to bloggers and others for reviews.
With World Mental Health Day approaching (October 10th), I’ve set up a separate webpage for mental-health related readings, appearances and posts. Here’s a taster of what you’ll find there, and I’ll be adding more in the next few days.
I wanted this week’s 99-word story in response to the prompt across the water to be about mental health: how sometimes we need delusions to stay sane. I’m not sure if it works, especially as it has gravitated into something about global inequalities - which obviously matter also - but it might not be angry enough for that.
Across the water, there is no hunger. Across the water, there is no pain. Across the water, there is justice. Across the water, there is peace.
I’d build a boat, but the waves would break it. I’d start to swim, but I’d be food for sharks.
I turn my back against the water. Dressed in rags, I face another arduous day. Sweating, toiling, aching, weeping; if I paused, I’d starve to death.
In my mind, the water freezes. I don my skates and fur-lined coat. With a smile, I glide to freedom. In my mind, there is no fear.