Tuesday, 7 January 2014

A Pitch for my novel 'MAD WORLDS...'

This is my 'pitch' for 'MAD WORLDS:A tale of Despair and Hope in 1950's England'.

This 80,000-word novel, set in 1950’s England, has two main characters:

Young teacher John – haunted by past tragedy, believing his wife no longer loves him, and stressed to near-breakdown - is forcibly taken to a harsh mental institution, Springwell, where he is certified and detained indefinitely. There he endures, and witnesses, abuses – some in the name of treatment – and meets fascinating eccentric folk. Suicidal at times, he determines to survive and escape.

His wife Heather, who has recently come through a post-natal depression, is bereft and distraught. While pining for John, she sees her priority as ensuring their infant child is properly cared for, and rallies support from neighbours and her parents. Horrified, on visiting, by the conditions in which John seems hopelessly trapped, and encountering his hostility, she is vulnerable to romantic overture.

Other significant characters, through whom parts of the tale are told, are:

Newman, the local authority Mental Health Officer who is required to tackle challenging emergency situations, gets John certified and removed to Springwell, and lusts after Heather;

Parker, an ambitious and sadistic Charge Nurse who sees patients as madmen to be coerced, targets John for abuse, and at one point tries to seduce Heather;

Macdonald, who emerges latterly as the new Medical Superintendent, driven by personal experience and ideals to improve the lot of mentally ill people, and bring about radical change in Springwell – a process that brings hope for John.

The main action is in 1956-7, with Part 1 ‘Despair’ and Part 2 ‘Hope’. The 1938 Prologue shows John experiencing tragic loss, a 1932 Prologue to Part 2 introduces the teenage Macdonald at a critical time in his life, and in the 1962 epilogue, John reflects on his experiences and other characters he’s met via Springwell.

The reader will see dramatic and realistic happenings. And the tale raises issues of perennial importance in mental health, relationships and loss.

At last! My own first post re 'Mad Worlds: A tale of Despair and Hope in 1950's England'

When I took up Richard Grayling's (then of Struggling Authors) time-limited special offer to set up a blog, I had in mind giving space to my own and selected others' first novels. On my behalf Richard posted re Carolyn Allen's book. I decided to start posting when I'd finished my novel. This, with a number of self-edits after feedback (not always comfortable!) took a while longer...

I intend next to post a brief 'pitch' that gives the main characters, followed by the 1930's Prologue. I'm being tentative as I'm a novice 'slow learner' blogger.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Author Carolyn Allen speaks about her father, her book and Lord Lucan's disappearance.

Carolyn, your book Knifing the Famous seems to be predominately about your father's possible involvement in the disappearance of  Lord Lucan. Although there is much more to him than this account, was it your primary motivation for writing it?

  "No, it wasn't! He passed away quite suddenly, having just gone shopping and bought himself a new TV. I was in the habit of emailing at least twice a week and phoning too. So when I got that dreaded phone call, I sat in my office with a huge heap of emails around me - all interesting and all uplifting if you know what I mean. Because I couldn't afford the trip I decided to try and record his life in a personal way - after all, I already had his own account of his time as a Medical Officer in the East and in what they call the Forgotten War - in Burma. So I typed all that up and added in extra stories which were sent in other emails. Then I sat back - the 'book' at this point was about 100 pages - and started to make a sort of chronological account of his life. Perusing through his papers I came across a manila file marked Lord Lucan, and to my surprise I found a medical record of Lord Lucan's surgery and this is where I added the chapter on Lucan. I thought I had better get myself informed so I looked at some of the material on the web - then I read about the man in New Zealand (Roger Woodgate)  that a couple called Harris thought was Lord Lucan and I telephoned them and had chats with Mrs Harris about this man and found she was pretty scared. Eventually Woodgate took them to court for defamation and the police stated that Roger Woodgate was not Lord Lucan. So I began my chapter on Lord Lucan!"

The rest of the interview appears on the main Struggling Authors site >