In a funny kind of way, publishing The Episode – a novel based on my own manic episode, told through the medium of the fictional hero, Victor Turnbull – has freed me to be more candid about my own illness.
Although it all happened more than eight years ago now, my unwritten rule has been that I wouldn’t talk about my own episode until Victor had told the story of his.
So now, I’ve also written an account of my own period of mental illness that was the inspiration for The Episode for the online magazine, Mental Health Today. I liked the illustration they used (see below) – it’s a bit of a “swirling vortex” and reminds me of the swirling vortex that I believed took me to a meeting with the soul of my late sister… My own vortex, however, was rather more reds and purples than yellow!
So, The Episode has now been around for a month and there’ve been some great highs as I learn to navigate the world of promoting my own work.
Our launch event, at Charts, on Newcastle Quayside, was a huge success, with more than 50 friends, family and professionals there to hear me in conversation in BBC North East presenter, Jeff Brown. The Youtube of the event has been attracting plenty of views, and really captures the atmosphere on the night.
Since then, I’m pleased to be able to say that sales have been steady and all my reviews, to date at least, have been five-star! A full page in Mike Amos’s column in The Northern Echo and two pages in The Journal, Newcastle, have also given a boost.
There’s more coverage on the way in other magazines, newspapers and websites, while Waterstones is now stocking The Episode in some outlets, specifically, Durham, Darlington and Middlesbrough. There’s hard work going on to add other regional Waterstones in the North East, Yorkshire and Cumbria and, ultimately, national ones.
We’ve also published a little Kindle non-fiction book to complement The Episode. It’s called Bipolar Disorder – Stand Clear Of The Revolving Door, and, once again, it tells the story of my manic episode from my own very personal perspective, rather than through the medium of my fictional character, Vic Turnbull.
I’m working on a couple of other little books to make a short series, one of them exploring how fiction in general has depicted madness across the years, and the other taking a look at the notion that Neolithic stone circles might have som ekind of mystical healing potential. Watch this space!
On a rather more prosaic level, I delivered one of my regular talks on the successful campign to save the Settle & Carlisle Railway at the Warwick Bridge local history club, near Carlisle, the other night. There was a lively audience with plenty of questions and I even sold a copy of The Episode!
I’m currently exploring the viability of bringing my book, The Line That Refused To Die, up to date to satisfy what seems to be a perpetual level of demand.