Available June 15, 2015

"Dr. McFarland told us we were the only ones who could cure the unfortunates under our care. Our benevolent kindness would lead them to sanity. At first I believed him, but it was not long before I learned of unspeakable acts committed on those lost souls."
For Their Own Good
For Their Own Good

Available June 15, 2015 at
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The Women and the Doctor

When I began to think about writing For Their Own Good I wanted to tell the story of four women committed to a 19th century insane asylum in what was then the American West. My characters did not fit into the roles pre-Civil War society had for them—Mrs. Packard disagreed with her husband’s religious beliefs, Mrs. Jenkins strove to rescue an abused child in the institution, masculine-acting Angelique was deserted by her family, and young prostitute Pearl rejected the demands of the local sheriff.

My female characters were clear in my mind, but I needed a way to structure my novel so that their powerful stories would be part of a cohesive whole. After some internal wrangling, my mind settled on creating hospital medical doctor, Dr. Adam Fletcher. Adam had access to all of the women, as well as to the power structure of the asylum.

Unexpectedly, Adam added another dimension to the novel. He represented authority, but he challenged his position and the hospital’s system of control almost immediately. His struggle between moral impulses and the expectations of his position is a recurring theme, which I believe adds a great deal to the book.

The interactions between my female and male co-protagonists enhanced my exploration of 19th century gender roles and what happens to those who do not fit into them. For Their Own Good characters challenge and support each other at the same time. As a result, all of them are changed in ways I did not imagine when I started telling their stories.

This Saturday, March 21, 2015 I will join a panel discussing female characters led by writers Jade Kerrion and Kim Campbell at the Florida Writers Association’s Mini-Conference in Plantation, FL.

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