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...