Prior to starting my first novel, I sought to do some research into individuals with impaired reality testing, or psychosis, so I could fully immerse myself inside the mind of my antagonist.
These are people who, generally-speaking, experience distorted thoughts and can have trouble differentiating reality with illusion, suffering from delusions and hallucinations. As such, they are able to commit crimes without understanding that what they did was immoral or illegal.
Initially, I spent hours pouring any information I could from the internet and local library into my mind, but I didn’t feel as though I was getting any closer to my goal. I wasn’t getting anywhere, and I was rapidly becoming frustrated.
Having lived in the town throughout my childhood and, until recently as a man, I have developed a few connections within various circles, one being psychiatric medicine. An old friend of mine had become head of the local psychiatric hospital here, and I decided to give them a call to set up an appointment with them.
After much negotiating and signing of paperwork, my friend allowed me access to a patient whose file of crimes ran a mile long. Under false pretenses, I was allowed to visit them. No one asked questions; no one cared. Three weeks later, late into a Tuesday night, I walked along a narrow white hall into a square, grey cement room with a metallic table in the middle of it. There were two chairs. I sat on the unoccupied one and looked across into the cold, calculating eyes of the person I’d gone to see.
For the first month or so, the patient would not answer my questions, and stared unblinkingly at me—through me—for the duration of our every interview. I felt naked; disarmed. Finally, and quite suddenly, they spoke.
I was told how I, along with my endeavour, was ridiculous. When the tirade of insults had stopped, I was told that, to get into the mind of someone like them, I would have to experience the world through their eyes.
It was ludicrous, of course. The patient’s argument was, however, logical in its simplicity and, as much I abhorred to admit it, it made sense. Naturally, I didn’t tell them of my concurrence with their argument. Instead, I thanked them for their time and left.
A month passed without a single word being written, and further research had proved fruitless. One night, after days with no sleep, I revisited the patient—I would concede to their proposal. For the good of the novel.
In a low voice and conspiratorial eyes they tasked me with walking down a common neighborhood street and look for an open window or garage door—I found the latter. Then, I was to casually amble to it and look around for items that “belong” to me—this point was important; I had to believe they were my things and, so, that I was perfectly within my rights to take them back.
I picked a few items at random, adjusting my perception to fit the idea they were mine. After a while, I truly did believe they were my belongings, and I was merely taking back my property.
I suppose I must have been lost in the moment of it all because I suddenly felt a hand land sharply on my shoulder. As if my ears had instantly regained their hearing after being deaf, a booming voice pounded around my skull.
I have often wondered if things may have been different had I been holding a soft object like a roll of tape or a cloth of some kind.
The silver lining, if you want to see it, is that no longer must my nights be spent creeping around the asylum halls, illicitly seeking wisdom from the patient. Now, I have complete access to them—to all of them—and my novel, you’ll be glad to hear, was completed just as I’d wished.
About the Author
At university, he studied English law and Spanish law. He didn’t like it. He then studied translation and didn’t like it, either. Currently, he is an English teacher in the south of Spain.
He has far too many interests, he’s told. A few are basketball, tennis, swimming, playing his old guitar, learning Japanese, painting, reading and writing (obviously), cooking…(See? Too many).
Not a day goes by, however, where he doesn’t write something, be it under a palm tree or on a bench at a bus stop somewhere.
David has recently become an author with Booktrope’s horror imprint Forsaken, and is due to release a short introductory novella in the next couple of months, followed by a full length novel soon after.