Each time that Sirens Call Publications releases an anthology, we like to reach into the recesses of the author’s minds and learn about the inspiration behind their stories. Mental Ward: Stories from the Asylum was recently released, and today we’re going to feature the inspiration behind Delphine Boswell’s contribution Interview with a Patient – #0494772.
Delphine’s writing career began with freelancing and writing on assignment for such houses as St. Augsburg Press and Group Publishing, where her books for children were published. During this time, she had numerous articles for parents and materials for teachers accepted for publication. During the last twelve years, her writing interests have switched to fiction. She has had several short stories, in various genres, accepted for publication in EZines, print anthologies, and a literary journal. Currently, her newly completed novel Unholy Secrets, a noir mystery, is under consideration by an agent. Delphine quotes her passion for writing in the words of John Steinbeck, “I nearly always write, just as I nearly always breathe.” In addition to her love of writing, Delphine has been teaching composition for almost twelve years to college students and presently teaches at Lake Tahoe Community College. You can find more information on Delphine and her writing by visiting her blog.
The Inspiration Behind Interview with a Patient – #0494772
The idea for my story came from my daughter who is working on her doctorate in neuro-psych. Years ago, there was a mental hospital called Eloise in Detroit. I began to search for some old pictures of the asylum to prepare myself for the mood of the story. Once I had my protagonist and my setting, I was ready to find my antagonist who actually came to me quite easily: a psychotic schizophrenic patient, named Damien, accused of murdering one of the nurses at the asylum. Of course, Damien blames the occurrence on Miles, a voice that speaks to him. I wanted to end “Interview with a Patient – #0494772” with a horrifying twist. Shared Psychotic Disorder, also known as “the folly of two,” whereby a normal person begins to share in the delusions of the psychotic person provided me with the exact closure I was looking for.
This is a collection of stories of bedlam taking place within the padded walls of an institution. Stories of experiments gone wrong, patients revolting against the staff, or even the deranged doings of those charged with giving care. They are sick, depraved, and atrocious – the type of stories that rarely reach the light of day.
Are you brave enough to crawl inside the minds of the thirteen authors who wrote these tales… Or are you afraid you’ll be locked up for peeking?
Featuring the talents of:
Delphine Boswell, Alex Chase, Sean Conway, Megan Dorei, A.A. Garrison, Tom Howard, Russell Linton, Suzie Lockhart and Bruce Lockhart 2nd, Jennifer Loring, Sergio Palumbo, Joseph A. Pinto, and D.M. Smith
Now let’s take a moment to read a little excerpt of Delphine Boswell’s Interview with a Patient – #0494772
Monday, December 21
“So, can you tell me, Damien, what exactly happened on the night of October 28?”
The man in the wheelchair grasped the vinyl arm rests, the veins on his hands rigid and purple. “When the police asked, I told them it wasn’t my idea; it was Miles’s. Miles told me I shouldn’t have to take the blame.”
“Go on,” I said, scratching the name Miles into the notebook on my lap.
“I was looking out the eighth-floor window. A light drizzle was falling. The asphalt appeared more like a mirror than a road, reflections from street lights, headlights, and the gold glow shining from the windows of Eloise Mental Hospital.” Damien chuckled. “…known around these parts as the crazy house.” He stopped and looked at me from the side of his eye. “Tanya, have you ever been in a crazy house before?”
I didn’t answer.
Damien closed his eyes and began to rock ever so slightly in his chair. “As a kid, I loved the smell of rain,” he reminisced. “The freshness reminded me of my grandma’s newly washed sheets that hung on the line to dry for most of the day.”
“Ah, yes,” I said, noting the man’s ability to quickly change topics. “Can you tell me what else you remember from that night—October 28?” In my schooling at Argonaut University, where I was in my third year, working toward a doctorate in psychology, my professors had often addressed the mental patient’s natural ability to drift off into their own thoughts, their own worlds. I had been told it would be my job to keep patient #0494772 on track, on task, yet to enter his mind and to see life from his perspective.
With his eyes squinted and his tongue moistening his lips, Damien went on. “People, people without umbrellas… their heads covered with everything from newspapers to briefcases rushed from their parked cars or the city bus, which had just stopped on the corner of Brent and 8th Avenue. Like a colony of ants, they hurried up the concrete steps. That’s when I spotted her.” His eyes glistened, and his nails tapped rapidly on the arms of his wheelchair.
“Who, Damien?” I jotted down that I sensed a sudden excitement in his behavior; no maybe a better word was anxiety.
Ignoring my question, the patient went on. “…probably visitors, I suspect. Stupid enough to think they had time to make it up on the ward to see their relatives and friends. Others, probably care givers and staff, who planned to clock in before eight o’clock.”
More backtracking, moving away from the question at hand, I wrote.
He paused for a moment before going on, and then with his eyebrows raised, he said, “Margaret… it was Margaret who I saw.”
On October 29, the newspaper headlines had read: Head Nurse at Eloise Mental Hospital Found Stabbed to Death
Damien’s expression resembled that of a child who had been given a double-scoop of ice cream. He rubbed his hands together, a slight oozing of saliva ran down his chin, which he caught in his hand and wiped in his pants.
Purposely acting ignorant, I said, “Damien, who is Margaret?”
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow when Joseph A. Pinto reveals his inspiration behind Hierarchy!