Welcome to my writing page. I am currently in the process of editing my forthcoming novel, Five Fathoms Beneath – A Novel About Losing and Finding which I hope to release in the spring of 2018.
How do we manage when our heroes prove themselves human?
Losing. Since he was eight-years-old and witnessed his father, ALEC, save a life in the emergency room, AMBROSE has yearned to become a hero in a white coat. In his last year of medical school, with a gorgeous fiancé and a promising career ahead of him as a cardiologist, Ambrose is on his way to accomplishing that goal. But when Alec, battered by cancer and a hidden mental illness, takes his life, Ambrose is left to reconcile the irreconcilable: How could a man who spoke of doing good as his religion commit the most selfish act? And how can Ambrose trust anything his father taught, knowing Alec suffered from delusions?
Finding. Unable to cope with his father’s death, Ambrose literally runs away to the United States where he becomes a bitter and cynical cardiologist. Ambrose’s wife HELEN’S warning he cannot keep running from his father’s death proves prophetic when Ambrose suffers a life-threatening injury. The injury provides the vehicle for a series of meetings between Alec and Ambrose whereby Alec receives the opportunity to seek absolution and to guide his son, and Ambrose receives a chance to find peace with his father and to redeem his life. But for Ambrose to do so, he must survive the injury and its complications and find the strength to conquer the crippling depression which claimed his father.
A life-affirming novel about forgiveness, absolution, and redemption, Five Fathoms Beneath is a story of losing and finding a father and losing and finding one’s way in the world.
Where did the title come from?
The title comes from Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest.”
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
It implicitly addresses the character, Ferdinand, who has just been involved in a shipwreck in which the father supposedly drowned.
In the story, Ambrose believes his father, Alec, is lost, which is why I chose this particular (very famous!) line for my title.
Why write a novel about suicide?
The short answer: To spark a discussion. To encourage people to be kinder and more compassionate.
Most people who end their lives are suffering from a mental illness or an affective (mood) disorder. This includes people with terminal illnesses. Suicide is typically the end consequence of untreated or improperly treated mental illness.
Nevertheless, well into the twenty-first century, it remains ok even among the most liberal members of society to portray the mentally ill as “dangerous” (glance at any debate about gun control as an example) or to treat these illnesses to be volitional. You would never tell your friend with cancer or diabetes they just need to think positive or snap out of it. Mental illnesses are illnesses, just like cancer is an illness.
Why did you choose to write a story about a medical doctor?
In the United States, physicians commit suicide at a rate of over one-per-day, and the numbers may be even higher due to underreporting. Like many other professionals, doctors are dissuaded from seeking help because of concerns over losing their licenses or autonomy. While worries over impaired doctors are, of course, a legitimate concern wouldn’t it be better for everyone involved if doctors to be able to seek care for depression non-punitively versus trying to hide depression and other mental health symptoms? I hope Five Fathoms Beneath at least inspires a discussion.
Beyond that, I wanted to write a story where the mentally ill person was highly functional and a genuinely good person. Too often in literature, the mentally ill are portrayed as the villain, violent, or lacking self-control.
What disorder does the main character suffer from?
Ambrose, the narrator of Five Fathoms Beneath, suffers from clinical depression. Ambrose’s father, Alec, suffers from bipolar disorder.
Is this a work of fiction? Is it based on real experiences or people?
Five Fathoms Beneath is a work of fiction, but I have experience with both cancer and depression, and I drew on those personal experiences in crafting the book.
Where can I go to learn more about mental illness, suicide, and depression?
Glad you asked! I am working on collecting some resources on mental illness, suicide, and depression, and I plan to post them in the blog section.