This is a bit from my first novel, The Children’s Field, a ghost story filled with family secrets, and a troubled girl who discovers more about herself than she could have ever imagined when she makes it her mission to solve the mysteries that surround her.
This novel came about in an odd little way. I awoke one night to a sickly orange glow emanating from my kitchen. When I got up to see what it was, I discovered that my refrigerator door was standing wide open. How? Maybe I had opened it in my sleep, maybe I hadn’t shut it tightly enough before bed, or maybe, just maybe, it was opened by something other than hands.
From there, the idea of a haunted house grew. I included little things that I had experienced growing up inside my own haunted home, and before long, there was seventeen year old Claire standing before this immensely dilapidated home. Which brought on a whole round of questions. Why was she there? Was she alone? Were the spirits trying to help her…or harm her?
Beside Claire, there was another woman who wandered about my mind: Margaret Henderson. A woman who goes mad when she learns of her finance’s death during WWII. And with Margaret’s character, more questions: What would a schizophrenic episode feel like to the person experiencing? Are mental disorders hereditary? How would 1940s society have handled someone like Margaret? How would she be handled today? And my most important question that I have yet to find an answer for: Are drugs prescribed as a means of a quick fix rather than finding the root of the problem? Unfortunately, I have to think, yes.
Mental disorders can be such a difficult subject for people to face head on. The brain is such a wild and fascinating organ, but it can be difficult to accept that the brain can do such painful things to its body and soul. I am by no means an expert, and I mean no harm or disrespect to anyone who suffers from any form of disorder. This is only my opinion, but I’m of a mind that no mind is perfect. We all have our little quirks and ticks. And as I placed myself in Margaret shoes while writing this novel, I caught a glimpse of how painful and difficult her life would’ve been. In researching treatment options of the forties and fifties, my heart broke to think of the horrific experience people went through when they were committed. And while treatment is better today, we still have a long way to go to. Perhaps if we were all more understanding and accepting of people as they come, we might better understand mental disorders. Even though it’s a work of fiction, it’s my hope that The Children’s Field can become a conversation starter toward understanding and acceptance.