All posts tagged: mental-health

With stunning grace and precision, openness, and empathy, Sarah Fawn Montogomery talks about her outstanding memoir & her struggles with mental illness

By Leslie Lindsay  Brilliant and incredible debut work of nonfiction, about the author’s life with myriad mental health diagnoses, QUITE MAD, should be required reading for all, but especially those who have been touched with mental illness, either in a personal or professional manner.  With searing intelligence, unflinching honesty, and a breadth of research, Sarah Fawn Montgomery has left me in complete awe. QUITE MAD (Mad Creek Books, 2018) is a gorgeous melding of literary journalism meets memoir and is focused mostly on women in the U.S. and their relationship with mental illness. But. Sarah Fawn Montgomery had a challenging family of origin, too. Much of this tumultuous upbringing is chronicled throughout the pages–delving into both of her parents’ backgrounds, their own anxiety, their desire to adopt a houseful of ‘special needs’ kids (abandoned at birth, drug-addicted babies, and those who otherwise weren’t cut out for foster care and their subsequent diagnoses). I read with interest, with disbelief, with shock. “A wrenching account of a difficult upbringing and a chaotic brain that will leave readers marveling at the author’s …

Haunting photograph of four children ‘for sale’ stirs Kristina McMorris’s heartstrings, what results is her arresting historical fiction, SOLD ON A MONDAY

By Leslie Lindsay  Haunting actual photograph spurs McMorris to pen a tale cast during the Great Depression about desperation, love, loss, and ambition in SOLD ON A MONDAY. Kristina McMorris is here today chatting about the inspiration behind the book, mental illness, single motherhood, health care, and more…and how those topics are not just today’s worries, but they transcend time.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Maybe the story behind the picture is worth a thousand more. It’s 1931 and Ellis Reed is a journalist working hard to get the big scoop on local (Philadelphia) stories. He’s killing time one afternoon when he stumbles across a pair of siblings on a farmhouse porch with a sign nearby:  “Two children for sale.”  Stunned, he snaps a photo, and with the help of newspaper secretary. Lillian Palmer, they craft a story to go with the photograph. It’s a feature and national attention is drawn to the tale…after all, it’s the depression and folks are drawn to stories of desperation. BUT. Might that photo have been staged? What …

Emma Healey talks about her most recent book, WHISTLE IN THE DARK, inner demons, missing girls, mothers & daughters, unique structure, more

By Leslie Lindsay  Stunning, psychologically complex atmospheric tale about mothers and daughters, inner demons, and piecing back the shards of a fragile psyche. Emma Healey pops by to chat about her favorite podcasts, how her teenage breakdown–and subsequent depression–informed Lana’s character, and so much more.  I am overwhelmed with the subtle absorption of WHISTLE IN THE DARK (July 2018, Harper), which explores the complexity of mother-daughter relationships, with a wry, poignant, sharply observed style. Emma Healey’s prose is both taut and lush and I was immediately drawn into her atmospheric underworld of 15-year-old Lana Maddox’s teenage depression, unaccountable days, and her eventual reappearance.  Plus, that cover! Told in a unique noir style in which we begin with the end, delve into a murky (in a good way) middle ground, and then reemerge on a brighter, more hopeful side, WHISTLE IN THE DARK is written in titled sections that aren’t exactly chapters, but present-day vignettes/memories/back flashes, while also propelling the narrative forward. I have to say, I loved this! I found the smaller sections easier to read (as opposed to an …

Carol Goodman on her new Gothic thriller, THE OTHER MOTHER, about postpartum psychosis & more

By Leslie Lindsay  THE OTHER MOTHER…a creepy Gothic thriller about motherhood and madness with plenty of twists. Plus, she talks about her fascination with the changeling story, her research into mental illness, and those creepy abandoned hospitals, being a Latin major (?!) and so much more Carol Goodman hooked me years ago with her debut, THE LAKE OF DEAD LANGUAGES, about a girls’ boarding school and the unsavory things going on there. And then I was mesmerized by THE GHOST ORCHID and still have images from that book lodged in my mind. So when THE OTHER MOTHER (William Morrow, March 27 2018) came to my attention, I knew I had to read it. This one is all about postpartum psychosis, but there’s more–it’s about identity (mistaken, stolen?), motherhood, trust, love, and so much more. What Goodman excels at here (and perhaps in all her writing) is her ability to create atmosphere. Imagine a milk-white sky, toss in an old stone home with a tower set on a hill overlooking a mental institution, add a mother …

Dyane Harwood shares her gripping account with postpartum-onset bipolar in BIRTH OF A NEW BRAIN

By Leslie Lindsay  Dyane Harwood talks about her stunning memoir on postpartum bipolar disorder, family psychiatric history, & so much more in BIRTH OF A NEW BRAIN When I was pregnant, my husband heard on NPR that a mother’s brain drastically changes during pregnancy and then again during labor/delivery. It’s why some expecting mothers are a little flaky, a little preoccupied. And then, after the birth, a woman’s brain actually becomes better–she is able to better multitask, sense danger, and even retain more information. But what happens when a severe mental illness is triggered? That’s what happened with Dyane Harwood. In her touching, unflinching, share-all memoir, she dives right into that abyss of madness. Having a family history of bipolar (her dad was a gifted concert violinist and suffered from regular bouts of bipolar), Dyane never thought she’d bear the brunt of the same diagnosis. With the birth of her second daughter, Dyane slipped into a full manic episode, with the compulsive need to write (hypergraphia). She wasn’t bonding with her children (she also had a toddler), she wasn’t …

Wednesdays with Writers: Dr. Melissa Deuter Tackles ‘Emerging Adulthood,’ Mental Health Crisis & More

By Leslie Lindsay  What Happens When your Emerging Adult Needs to Come Home? Dr. Melissa Deuter Talks about this and so much more in her book, STUCK IN THE SICK ROLE In her psychiatric urgent care practice, Dr. Melissa Deuter has been an expert in assisting families with ‘failure to launch’ young adults who seem to be stuck—whether that’s in a sick role (broadly defined as struggling with mild-to moderate depression or anxiety but may include more severe psychiatric diagnoses), but also those who are unready emotionally and socially to move into the next stage. Through a series of vignettes, Dr. Deuter takes us on a journey in which we ‘meet’ these young,  emerging adults. Her style is down-to-earth and conversational; in such a way it feels as if one is eavesdropping on friends at a coffee shop. You may recognize familiar stories as if they were your neighbors, your best friend’s son, or your brother’s daughter. Don’t worry, everyone mentioned in STUCK IN THE SICK ROLE has a pseudonym.  The point is, the phenomenon …

Wednesdays with Writers: Debut author, A.J. Finn on his HOT bestselling psych thriller, WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, how he hates the ‘post-truth era,’ his favorite ear worm of 2018 (so far), lifting the stigma on mental health, plus those black & white films that inspired the book

By Leslie Lindsay  Intricate and suspenseful and utterly unputdownable, THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW is on-par with smart, psychological thrillers that will stay with you long after you close the book for the final time.  THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW is the most widely acquired novel of all time. Prior to publication, THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (William Morrow, January 2 2018) had been sold 38 territories around the world, and Fox 200, the makers of LIFE OF PI and HIDDEN FIGURES preempted the film rights, with Oscar winner Scott Rudin producing and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts writing the script. Stephen King loves it. So does Gillian Flynn and Ruth Ware. Oh, and it’s a debut for A.J. But it doesn’t read like one. THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW is smooth, rich, complex, and layered. 38 year old Anna Fox is a child psychologist by training but dealing with a severe case of agoraphobia herself.  Alcoholism plays a role, too and so does her faulty memory. Anna Fox has been a prisoner of her own …

WeekEND Reading: Mira T. Lee talks about her luminous family saga, EVERYTHING HERE IS BEAUTIFUL, touching on sisters, mental illness, immigration, and so much more. Plus, her inspiring TBR, and how fiction is a great place to develop empathy and reconcile nuances

By Leslie Lindsay  A brave, unflinching debut about the tenuous bonds of mental illness, how we define ‘family,’ immigration, and so much more.  EVERYTHING HERE IS BEAUTIFUL is one of those literary masterpieces that will captivate and enthrall readers everywhere, perhaps for very different reasons. There’s so much about this book I love–the razor-sharp writing, the way I was transported to another world (South America/Ecuador, Switzerland), and back again (NYC, Minnesota), and then there’s the breadth of scope: mental illness, sisters, love, who we call ‘family,’ life and death, as well as loss and rejuvenation. Told in alternating, highly distinct POVs from several main characters: Miranda: the older sister who has always been the “responsible one”; Lucia: whose free-spirited nature is dampened by her mental illness; Yonah: the Israeli shopkeeper and first husband of Lucia; Manuel: Lucia’s boyfriend, and father of her child. EVERYTHING HERE IS BEAUTIFUL may be best described as a literary family drama (spanning years and continents) with a mental illness theme (and its treatment) as well as an immigration (and cultural displacement) undercurrent.  I’m in awe with Mira T. Lee’s ambitious novel. I …

Wednesdays with Writers: Ali Land talks about her time as a mental health nurse in the U.K., her ‘insatiable curiosity’ about people, female serial killers, nature vs. nurture, the stress of writing a second book, and more in her international bestseller, GOOD ME BAD ME

By Leslie Lindsay  Is it nature or nurture? That’s the overarching question in this debut psychological thriller about a female serial killer and her daughter.  When I heard about GOOD ME BAD ME, I knew I had to get my hands on it. So when the publisher reached out with a gorgeous copy (seriously, this is an exquisite package), I was thrilled. Annie (who now goes by Milly) is 15 and living with a foster family. Her mother is a serial killer awaiting trial. After turning her mother into the police, Milly must start fresh. Living with Mike, a psychologist, his yoga-loving (though emotionally absent wife) and snarky teenage daughter, Phoebe, Milly is doing the best she can to adjust to life without her mother, a new school, and a new identity. Told in a voice-y dialogue from the POV of a 15 year old, GOOD ME BAD ME straddles the YA genre with that of a psychological thriller. Rest assured, there are many adult themes in this book; it is not a book for younger readers. The …

Write On, Wednesday: Meet Author Kathryn Craft of THE FAR END OF HAPPY

By Leslie Lindsay You may know her from her January 2014 fluid, lyrical debut about a dancer, THE ART OF FALLING. Her second novel, THE FAR END OF HAPPY (May 2015) takes us on a poignant and emotionally charged glimpse into an unraveling marriage, the sadness draped around the characters like a shroud, and the hope that everything will work out in the end. It’s a tough read for the subject matter alone: suicide. But it’s the tenderness and compassion Craft brings to the narrative that will have you walking away feeling a strange brew of optimism. Leslie Lindsay: Welcome, Kathryn. I’m so honored to have you on the blog today. I guess I have to start with the obvious: THE FAR END OF HAPPY is based on an event in your life: your own ex-husband’s suicide. What a challenging topic—and how did you decide on the structure of the novel, i.e. why fiction over a memoir? Kathryn Craft: Hi Leslie, thanks so much for having me here. The answers to the two parts of …