The written word is a powerful medium. Books can both influence and educate society and culture. I was listening to Isabella the other day when she talked about Sapphire books leaving a legacy. That got me to thinking about what I do with the books I write. It’s no surprise to anyone that I push the envelope and tackle controversial topics. My goal is to combine education and entertainment.
In my upcoming book, The Dream Catcher, I attempt to tackle a serious topic, mental illness, and weave a bit of education into an entertaining and engaging story. Let me clarify that I don’t wish to make light of the very real challenges for those who struggle with illnesses such as bipolar disorder.
I chose this particular disorder for my main character, Heaven, because I’ve had a front-row seat to the difficulties and challenges to overcome, especially with close relationships. There is a member of my immediate family who has had to manage her illness since her early twenties. At times she is successful and at other times, she is not. Her relationships with others sometimes suffer for it. I wanted to change the narrative in my make-believe world and ensure that while Heaven has some real challenges to overcome, her disorder is seen as a gift, rather than a disability. In one of the more heart-wrenching scenes, I create a bit of lightness, yet try to display the deep pain Heaven feels at the effect of bipolar disorder on her relationships. Here is that scene:
“She’s not what I expected.” Syl sat in the recliner. Her mouth did that worried thing as one half of her lip scrunched to the other side.
“Yeah well, me either. She was refreshingly direct and so beautiful.” I’m sure my dreamy expression caused Syl more concern. “Did you see how her breast peeked deliciously out from her shirt? One more button, and I’ll bet I could have seen her bra—probably some sexy Victoria’s Secret, lace creation. Mmmm, yeah, one more button.”
“You know, I’m beginning to re-evaluate a few things. I should just take you to a professional, so you can get it all out of your system. Maybe then you would be able to think more clearly. I suppose not having sex for so long has clouded your judgment…”
“Syl, you know that my…uh…special gift twists my sense of reality with unique perceptions. A romp in the sack with an escort isn’t going to alter that, but I do have my very lucid moments. I really think this is one of them. I get a good feeling about Maya. I believe she can help me.”
“Assist you in what way, that’s the real question. If it’s to help scratch a long overdue itch, that’s not solving the problem.” Syl brought the glass of wine to her lips and took a sip.
“Maybe you’re the one too focused on sex, because you didn’t get to go home with Darla and your perception is off. I meant, she could relieve me of my nasty dream apparitions, not assist me with my long, dry spell of unwanted abstinence.”
“We’ll see. I have a bad feeling about what is on the horizon for all of us.”
“Maybe it’s just indigestion from your spaghetti sauce. There was an awful lot of garlic in it,” I quipped.
Sylt threw a pillow at me. “I’d like to see you do better. Oh wait, you don’t cook. I have several charred pots to prove it.”
“I could learn. Do you think that would impress Maya?”
“You have bigger issues to tackle. I probably wouldn’t worry about your ineptness in the kitchen. Please, don’t go falling in love or lust. It only serves to exacerbate your condition. Need I remind you what happened when Twyla broke up with you after you’d only been dating for one week?”
“It isn’t fair that you get to plan for a future with Darla, but all I can hope for is periodic visits to a professional.” I knew I was pouting, but she wasn’t being reasonable.
“Life isn’t fair, Heaven. I’m sorry you got dealt a bad hand.” She looked at me with pity in her eyes, and I thought she really was sorry.
“Is my disorder so bad that I don’t deserve love?” I wanted to know the answer.
“It’s not that simple, Heaven, and you know it. When Spartan injected you with that serum to enhance your dreams, he made a typical relationship virtually impossible for you. You know that better than anyone else. I really am sorry, Heaven, for any part I played in their abominable research. I’d do anything to take it back.” Syl leaned forward and pushed at her temples with her fingertips for a few seconds, almost as if she was trying to massage the bad memories away. “Maybe she can help you enough to lead a relatively normal life, but you can’t get involved with a Dream Catcher. That would play right into their hands, and they might double their efforts to capture both of you.”
I nodded, pretending I was in agreement with her, but in my mind, I was crossing my fingers behind my back.
My grandmother always said that every pot has a lid. Sure, sometimes we scrounge around in the cabinets looking for that lid (unless you’re are OCD and have them neatly together at all times in order of size, smallest to largest). On other occasions, in a move, the lid is lost and finding a new one in an unlikely place like the Salvation Army thrift store is your only option. Sadly, more often than not, people purchase a new pot with a lid. The lonely pot faces the reality many with a severe mental illness confront every day…never finding their lid because they are tossed aside like an unworthy piece of trash.
Since this book is at its core a romance, Heaven does find her lid and there is a happily ever after for her. I won’t tell you who her love interest is, but I will reveal that this person brings out Heaven’s gifts and lets her see herself in a different light. The journey is filled with intrigue and a new spin on how the government can be evil. I hope you will enter Heaven’s world and see things through her eyes and gain a new understanding. Empathy is a powerful tool that drives connection. As my dedication says: To the men and women who struggle with bipolar disorder, may their special gifts remain intact.