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 Russell Linton’s contribution The Doctor’s Session.
In fourth grade, Russell Linton wrote down the incredibly vague goal of becoming a “writer and an artist” when he grew up. Taking a decidedly non-traditional route to this goal, he graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor’s in Philosophy and went on to a career in Graphic Design. Briefly sidelining those pursuits to be a Stay at Home Dad and for a stint in investigative work, he more recently returned to graphic design on a self-employed basis.
Throughout, Russell has continued to write collaborative fiction, ghost write for local business blogs and a few websites. However, his true passion is speculative fiction. His interests run the gamut from fantasy to science fiction and recently the dark paths of psychological horror. He has stories printed with Siren’s Call Publications and online at Wily Writer’s Podcast. Find him on his blog at http://www.russlinton.com.
Inspiration for The Doctor’s Session
Of all the stories I’ve written, this one, The Doctor’s Session had perhaps the most visceral effect on me. To prepare, I did what I often do – sought a bit of inspiration. I did this by watching hours of interviews with serial killers.
I won’t do that again anytime soon. For that entire week I felt, different. It’s hard to describe. Anxious. Jittery. Unsure of the true depths of human depravity. I almost turned away from the project.
Why torture myself with serial killers anyway? It’s an anthology about a Mental Ward, but the possibilities were limitless. Through those interviews, a character had already started to worm his way into my brain. He had to be exorcised by writing this tale.
That, and I knew I wanted to try to put the reader on uneasy ground. Not too difficult to do in an asylum where sanity is up for grabs. But what of those extreme spaces between the insane and the murderously competent? A place where you walk a fine line between the two whether for legal or simply academic reasons? The hollow soul of a serial killer offered a perfect starting point.
I almost turned back a second time when I met Edmund Kemper, a California serial killer responsible for the murder of six women and girls along with his own grandmother, grandfather and mother. Something I was only able to do through the protection of a broadband connection and a few decades of space.
Kemper was a giant of a man with impossibly tiny, delicate hands. Fingers so slender, which made meticulous gestures throughout the interview. He spoke in a matter of fact, conversational way describing his modus operandi but always stopping when it came to the real details of the killings. Not for fear of prosecution – he was already in prison – but I believe because of the intimacy those moments held for him.
I decided I couldn’t write anything as terrifying.
But here was the real story – as a boy Kemper had been institutionalized after killing his grandparents. A paranoid schizophrenic with a near genius I.Q., he was allowed to review and even administer the assessment tests they used. Allegedly, he memorized the responses to twenty eight different tests. Sanity was at his beck and call and that was precisely the idea I wanted to communicate.
So, I locked the door and decided to try.
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 The Doctor’s Session by Russell Linton…
You followed her home, unable to contain the excitement. As she entered her house, you pretended not to notice and sidled along the street whistling a made up tune that sounded fantastic. Professional even, like you were a composer or artist. And you were. The thoughts made you giddy and high in that moment, the one before what would come next. It was always that way. You kept walking and smiled bright and big at the wonderful surprises the future held.
You saw her again, the very next day, as she left the laundromat with a green mesh bag slung over her narrow shoulders. She was there every Tuesday, while you drank your coffee at the shop across the street, watching her pass by through the steam in your cup.
Sometimes, she would look. Her dark eyes darting with urgent hops or scrunched in thought about the things on the edge of her senses. That told you she knew. The secret had floated to her on the insubstantial drift of heat you peered through. A secret whispered only to the chosen. You shivered, with delight.
That August day in the rain – her hair clung to her soft, round cheeks. Her skin was prepared and made pale and cool by a gray world. You thought for sure that was the time. The moment where she would become. She would transcend. She would fulfill the fevered whispers.
You pushed open the gate, left unlatched and ajar, the excitement of invitation rushing through your veins. Red and bright was the door, so bright! It glowed in the cloud scattered haze. It spoke to you of the beautiful future trapped within. It wanted to be released. She wanted to help you.
But as you closed your hand tightly on the brass handle, the surface still warm from the clutch of her delicate fingers, the latch would not give. You were uninvited.
No, no, not today, impatient little boy. Gathering your pieces, your scattered remnants, you stepped away from the door. Your blood returned from places unclean. Patience and time were all you needed. You just didn’t know how much that was going to be.
Age: 25 years, 9 months
Thank you for tuning into this inspiration series – we hope you enjoyed reading about them as much as we did!