Monday, February 4, 2008


Research can take a writer just about anywhere. Two weeks ago, for example, I spent a day in the archives of Broughton Hospital in Morganton. Broughton is a hospital for patients with mental disorders.

I thought I might have to send a character there and I needed to discover whether this was plausible and also what kind of treatment would have been available.

Being there was a bittersweet experience for me.

The sweet part was Karen Gilliam who hosted me. She was so warm and welcoming - she made me a cup of coffee, opened the archives, and let me have at it!

It always amazes me that institutions will do that - give me access to the stories of real people, events and places.

Of course the stories in a mental hospital are not so pretty. And that was the bitter part. It was very sad to see what life was like for people who had mental illness.

I don't think my character will be going to Broughton after all. But I expect to go back. Something tells me I am not finished with the subject of mental illness...


  1. What a fascinating post, Joyce. I love that your journey takes you so many places, showing you so many corners of life, dark and light though they are. It sounds as though there is a character whispering to you somewhere from Broughton. Enjoy your travels!

  2. You are right! There is a character trying to get through to me. I am waiting to be sure, though. I'm afraid this is going to be a painful one to explore.