Can fiction really help raise awareness of mental health issues?

A true story:

I met a young man out with a group of his friends on Saturday. He was leading from the front as they walked on a public footpath enjoying the sunshine. Like many herds of young teenagers, who had ventured recently into adolescence, they were chatty and loud. I heard them before I saw them. Swear words rang out. “F***’, ‘F***ing ni****s*. It was a bit shocking to hear such appalling racism but as I turned in anticipation of giving the culprit a slice of condemnation,  I witnessed the anguish on the face of the youngster who had uttered those words. His head shot back, his whole body stiffened and more expletives burst from his lips as he tensed.’F***, give us a blow job!’ he bellowed at me and crumpled in exhaustion.

He immediately apologised as did his friends.

What excellent friends they were. What a tortured lad, bravely trying to be as normal as he could.

I looked him in the eye and reassured him. ‘No problem young man. I completely understand.’ He thanked me, relief evident in his eyes and his friends all smiled. As they walked away I heard one say, ‘I wish everyone understood like that.’

I haven’t stopped thinking about him since. What will his future hold? Who is helping him?

It’s #Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. How many of us understand Tourettes? How many of us recognise it when we see it? How many times has that young person been misunderstood?

Maybe we have become desensitised to the facts and figures? Or simply do not really comprehend what the fuss is all about?

Where does fiction fit in?:

Having worked at the front line of mental health services in this country for several decades, I now write crime thrillers. Within the pages of those books are observations, evidence and thought provoking storylines relating to a variety of aspects of mental health. I don’t evangelise. I try to provoke consideration and understanding.

#Stench, as an integral part of the story, takes the reader on a journey of relapse into psychosis. If you like a psychological thriller to read …

‘It is a side to the Mental Health Service that we are aware of, the under-funding, the out of hours service and general inadequacies. Now I do mention this as it plays a part in the story, but the author has got the balance spot on for me, incorporating a problem into a story without going over the top and coming across as preaching.’ Me and My Books – book review.

 

Amazon link.

‘Stench is a brilliant read. It left me feeling shaken and unnerved. Within the thriller genre it fits into a niche of its own, not just because of the authority behind the writing but the brutal honesty in which mental health is dealt with. Actions have consequences and those consequences can have a lasting effect. AB Morgan weaves this into her story with great skill. The twist and turns are balanced perfectly and I never saw them coming!’ Books Are My Cwtches – book review

The Chalk Man : by C J Tudor – audiobook review

The Chalk Man: 'If you like my stuff, you'll like this' STEPHEN KING I’ve taken to listening to books these days, because, to be honest, I have little opportunity to sit, guilt free, and read a book. Although I write crime novels, I live with a non-reader  – which in Harry Potter terms is like saying I live with a muggle.

However …

Plugging into my bluetooth headphones I can multitask by doing the gardening, the ironing, the boring housework and be entertained while walking the dog. I can tune in and drop out.

I’d like to share my personal thoughts on this audiobook: The Chalk Man

  1. The story. A terrible accident, an unsolved murdermysterious chalk drawings, decisions, lies and betrayalsHow cleverly thought through this storyline was and it flowed so well. We are treated to two timelines of events from the perspective of a young  Eddie in the 1980’s and from the adult Ed who is the product of events in his childhood. With him on his journey are a group of lively friends; Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo and Nicky through whom the book comes alive because of the author’s ability use the language of the young, to enter their mindset and remind us readers (listeners) how confusing the world can appear to be from the perspective of a child. The mystery weaves from the past to the present adult world that Ed inhabits as he attempts to find elusive answers to the puzzles and events that unfold.
  2. The narration. The two male narrators are both easy to listen to, there are no jarring tones or peculiarly unnecessary extremes of accent, and, most importantly, the young Eddie is distinguishable from the adult Ed. I wondered at first why the adult Ed had a soft Irish brogue, but it’s an irrelevancy because both narrators make the story come alive and enable the listener to quickly tune in to the timelines. There is admirable use of the pause and of dramatic inflection that help to paint visual imagery, enhancing the words on the page.
  3. Overall: Great Entertainment. My mind didn’t wander off anywhere other than into the story and I was fully absorbed in the lives of Eddie and his friends. Bravo to all involved.

Coming soon

A dead body, a hidden past, whispers and accusations, motorbikes, unsavoury neighbours and a decent into mental illness. All that for only 99p on Amazon. Available for preorder.

 

A busy few weeks …

  Performance event at Waterstones Tottenham Court rd.

 Radio Interview with the fabulous Nana Akua for The Health Show.

Signing a new contract!

Meeting old friend and world record holder for rowing the Pacific ….yes, read his book: Rowing the Pacific -7,000 miles from Japan to San Francisco. Mick Dawson.

 Author Panel in Harpenden with three other Bloodhound authors.

Staying local with a reading or two in the pub!

Sometimes other people’s words are better …

The Camera Lies by A B Morgan
TOP 1000 Amazon REVIEWER on 5 February 2018

Well, let me tell you, this is not for the faint hearted! Or the squeamish. Or the prudish!

This is a gritty read; full of action, energy and unpleasant characters. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting but I was quickly caught up in the plot which moved at a great pace, full of tension, complications and shocking revelations.

Morgan writes vividly and the action bounces off the pages. The reader is caught up in a complex tale with some graphic and erotic scenes which, although completely necessary to the plot and the characters, are still quite shocking at times! Morgan’s writing is fluent, full of pace and with a plot line that intricately links the two characters in a way that has the reader constantly guessing as the events unravel in front of their eyes.

I really liked the concept of a TV presenter interviewing someone convicted of a crime as it is a bit of a change from finding yourself in a police interview room listening to a suspect confess, or not, to a crime. It also gives Morgan an opportunity to play around with the interaction between the characters as the dialogue, and behaviour, between them is not restricted by the conventions of a police interrogation – and this is a novel that doesn’t like to be restricted by convention or expectation! I liked the dynamic between the two men and the question of motivation and trust which is more blurred than when the protagonist is a detective. I liked that I thought I knew what kind of story I was going to be reading, but within a few chapters my suspicions and expectations were challenged and the story took a rather more dark and sinister route.

I think what really impressed me was Morgan’s ability to write from a male point of view and to have created these characters who are so authentic and believable. They are both flawed and not always gaining much empathy from the reader but they are always fascinating. I was impressed how well Morgan portrayed Konrad. He’s an ambitious creation but Morgan has crafted him well and he’s a memorable protagonist.

There is quite a wide range of characters who appear throughout the story but they all feel three dimensional and most importantly, they all feel appropriately threatening and unreliable.

Ultimately though, I think the best thing about this novel was it’s fierce energy, pace, drama and complexity. It’s the kind of book you realise you’re reading with your mouth half open because you are constantly in a state of tension, suspense, shock and disbelief. Morgan’s skill is in her execution of a surprisingly intricate plot that winds in and out of itself in a way that the reader could never second guess.

I was totally impressed with this stand alone thriller. It was very different from any other crime book I’ve read recently and knowing what I do now about the behaviour and personalities of the main characters, I might have been a little wary but actually, it’s a total page turner. It will leave you quite breathless.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Morgan might write next!

The Road to Publication is Filled with Serendipity by A.B. Morgan | Writing.ie

Please click on the link to access an article published in Writing.ie ‘s  online magazine.

Source: The Road to Publication is Filled with Serendipity by A.B. Morgan | Writing.ie

What have the reviews said so far?

Since the official launch of #DivinePoison, the social media sites have been buzzing with reviews, tweets, retweets and likes. I’ve held my breath checking Goodreads and Amazon to see whether the book has done it’s job, to entertain. All very exciting and nerve wracking for a new author like myself. A year ago I would have struggled to understand the value of a retweet let alone how to manage posting on Twitter, Facebook and others. Now I have no choice and am finally getting the hang of the tools that form an essential part of marketing a book on line. Not bad for an old bird.

What fascinated me, as the reviews rolled in, were the variations. Some focussed on pace, others on plot, or theme, style, characterisation, or a combination. There were unexpected interpretations, valid points about red herrings that hadn’t even been intended as such, and a thoughtfulness within each review whilst not shying away from opinion.

Hats off to the bloggers, reviewers and readers! An enormous thank you to you all (as well as to family, friends, fellow authors and Bloodhound Books of course)

 

Divine Poison is Available on Amazon

Here are links to a few of those reviews from the three day Blog Blitz:

:My Eclectic Reads

  :I Loved Reading This

:Rae Reads 

 

 

Christmas can be murder …

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It’s Christmas. Your house is invaded by relatives and friends who gorge themselves on your yuletide hospitality. Some of them are a delight, but let’s face it after the first hour you want a return to peace and quiet and free use of your own bathroom. Drinks and nibbles are rapidly followed by the trauma of opening presents and putting your acting skills to good use. ‘That’s lovely, just what I never knew I wanted.’ The fake smile on your face begins to ache.

Christmas dinner is a feast for the gluttonous, sport for the mother-in-law’s thoughtless tongue, and an ordeal for the cook. You hope in vain that no one suggests party games too late in the day when Uncle Bernard has drunk enough to become obnoxious, and you pray no one will linger late into the evening begging for another slice of gammon and cold turkey.

Grandpa is snoring and farting. The older siblings are cheating at monopoly and threatening to sue each other. Granny is trying to teach the small children a game they are neither interested in nor understand. Young Toby is bashing his Power Ranger into her shin in protest, while his sister smears Silly Slime into your carpet. Teenagers are sulking and you, the hosts, stand at the sink washing up, again.

Do unfestive thoughts begin to creep in? ‘I could happily throttle the old bag’. The sort of intrusive wish you wouldn’t want others to know about? If, heaven forbid, you have house guests staying over (what possessed you to agree to that?!) these flights of fancy may become tempting.

Make certain you research wisely if you are plotting against an unwelcome, offensive relative …

or alternatively indulge yourself by reading some #crime fiction!

Allow your imagination to do the killing.

Agatha Christie is hard to beat for bumping off unwanted guests but I suggest you spread your search wider, get inventive.

Warning #Divine Poison doesn’t contain nuts: it’s not a story about murdering Christmas guests either, but it is a deadly distraction, a way of escape and a source of inspiration for would-be poisoners. Pick up a few ideas for next year’s Christmas dinner. (available on Amazon).

Merry Christmas. Ali Morgan x

A Fascination with the Darker Side of Mental Illness Treatment.

This is a well-known story that has been doing the Facebook rounds for some time now, but nevertheless it remains astounding.

What happened when there was a further ‘undercover’ experiment in the 1970’s led by Psychologist Dr  David Rosenhan?

 

Here are some intriguing true stories:

Bedlam: The Real Horror Story Asylum

Do we explore these stories for the same reason we enjoy reading crime thriller fiction or watching scary films? If that’s your sort of book then try: A Justifiable Madness

Imagine what might happen if Nellie Bly or David Rosenhan repeated their experiment today? Those of us who have worked within Mental Health Services have an unusual perspective and personal insight into what it’s like to need support and treatment for mental illness and sometimes fiction is a powerful tool in raising awareness.

Whose turn is it to shake up mental health services?

www.time-to-change.org.uk

www.rethink.org

www.mind.org.uk

www.sane.org.uk

and there are many more ….