Skip to main content

Buy the Print Edition of Radical Second Things!

An Interview With Melinda Clayton

My first article for Novel Blogs was a review of the excellent book by Melinda Clayton, Blessed Are the Wholly Broken. I got the book straight from her and so I subsequently asked some interview questions of her. Here goes!

What methods did you use to take the POV of a tragic male character?
As for the male point of view, my husband helped, but mainly the attorney I thank in the front of the book. He’s an old friend of mine who also went to University of Memphis at that time, and lived in that dorm (come to think of it, he’s also the reason I was single that Valentine’s Day – ha!). He continues to believe the character of Brian was based on him (he wasn’t). He beta-read it to make sure I had my legal stuff right, but also to make sure I bad my point of view right as well as my memories of that place and time.
Why the setting of Tennessee?
I grew up in that area of TN. The dorm they lived in (Richardson Towers) was my dorm at University of Memphis. I actually also remember that “most rainy day of the year” on Valentine’s Day – it was awful. I was wet, cold, miserable, and yes – even single. :-)   Later, I worked in the community mental health centers in that area before moving to Holland, then Colorado, and now Florida. I still go back to TN every summer for our family reunion.
You have a career in special education. How did you also get involved in writing?
My career has actually been in mental health, but I’ve taken sort of a roundabout way with it. I’ve worked just about every aspect of it, but my specialty was in working with individuals who have both a mental health diagnosis and a developmental disability of some sort. I spent a lot of time in meetings with schools, in court, etc., and the doctorate in Special Education Administration was crucial in giving me the knowledge needed to advocate for my clients. As for writing, I first began writing articles on mental health issues for newsletters and magazines. Around that time, we had a family move, I had two young kids, and I needed to be able to spend more time with them. It was the perfect time to move from working directly with clients to writing grant proposals, articles, and workshops. Eventually that led to the publication of my first novel.
When I read your book, I could sense that you were from the south or Midwest just by the writing style and the way you presented your characters – even before I got to the setting of Tennessee or read your biography. How has where you’ve grown up inform your writing?
The south is a special place. Cedar Hollow, the tiny mining town in my Cedar Hollow Series, shares characteristics with many of the small southern towns in which I grew up. My dad is from Tennessee and my mom is from West Virginia. I grew up in Tennessee in and around the setting for Blessed Are the Wholly Broken, and spent time during summers in West Virginia. The south is a part of who I am.
Do your prefer your day job or writing?
Over the years, writing has become my day job. There are times I miss the hustle and bustle of working in the mental health field, but writing has always been a passion of mine and it’s the perfect way to work from home so I can be more available to my family. No more emergency calls in the middle of the night. :-)
You’ve written several books – which is your favorite and why?
As for my favorite of my books, that’s a tough one. Appalachian Justice seems to resonate with the most people, and Billy May, the protagonist, will always be close to my heart because I felt haunted by her as I was writing it. It was also my first book, so given that, probably isn’t as technically sound as my later books. Still, I think I’ll have to go with it.
 
What particularly was the impetus for the plot of “Blessed Are The Wholly Broken?”
“Blessed Are the Wholly Broken” came about as I ruminated on a couple of different incidents. Years ago, when I worked inpatient with adolescents, there was a fifteen-year-old resident who was on suicide watch. It was nearly impossible to keep her safe; she had all sorts of creative ways for trying to hurt herself. One day, she told me and my staff that while we could keep her safe there, within the unit, we couldn’t watch her forever. Over time she began to participate in the program. After nearly a year, she was discharged. A week after discharge, she jumped in front of a train and was killed. You can imagine how traumatic that was for everyone involved, including staff who’d worked so closely with her. It’s an incident that’s stayed with me, of course, and led to my writing about someone who was determined to no longer be here.
As for postpartum psychosis, at the time I began writing Blessed there were a couple of different stories in the news about women who, clearly in a psychotic state, had killed their own children. There’s always a massive public outcry when one of these incidents happens, but unfortunately the illness behind the actions often goes unaddressed. I wanted to portray a multifaceted woman who, contrary to her history and to what anyone believed to be true about her, could find herself on that slippery slope, sadly unable to get the help she needed.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"Life is Much More Than Bratwurst:" A Chat With Rummelsnuff

A note - Blogging isn't free. Right now I provide gifts to my writers as a way of thanking people for writing. I would like to be able to afford to give them some sort of renumeration, even if it is small, for making this blog what it is. I'm in talks with a friend who may be able to help connect this blog, which has been in existence for one year now, with more religious communities dedicated to interfaith dialogue. Your donation will do a lot toward making that happen.




Rummelsnuff is awesome. If you don't know, he is Roger Baptist - a bodybuilding German singer who has toured abundantly in support of his music - an unusual composite of German industrial, drinking songs and electronica. Roger was nice enough to do an interview with me and took the time to answer in English, not his first language. Thanks so much, Roger!

First off, you have quite the physique? Can you tell us about your diet, your regimen, etc.?

Maybe I am lucky to like exactly the stuff, which is good for mu…

Eagles of Death Metal Go Alt Right

Hey all - remember writing is not free! If you want to see more of this, be sure to donate.


Back in 2010, I, along with my friend Alex Knepper, wrote about the prospective rise of the Alternative Right movement – a political organization of well dressed and well presented white supremacist who bring all of the hate, free of swastikas, shaved heads or all the usual turn offs of that ideology.
Alex’s article is up still at Frum Forum, a website of former Bush advisor David Frum. As one friend told me, I not only was right but more right than I thought I’d be about all of this. The world is changing very fast and it would take a profound change in human nature for the response to that change not to include a bit of reaction.
It’s much worse that I thought it would ever be. The forthcoming nominee of the Republican party blatantly flirts with white nationalists on his Twitter account, retweeting their material with abandon and refusing to condemn when pressed on it. Jesse Hughes, the lead …

"Proud Boys" and the Alt Right in the Bay Area

Now that NBC News picked up the Proud Boys story, here is something I wrote for a local Bay Area newspaper about them earlier in the fall. The newspaper was hesitant to write about the subject, as seems to happen when I want to write about the Alt Right. I interviewed Paul Bazille, a member of the Proud Boys group and everything. If the headline on the story seems different than this link, that's because I've changed it from what the newspaper wanted to one more appropriate for the story. Writing about this is frustrating - I'm torn between wanting to accurately portray the source, who put trust in me, and not wanting to seem sympathetic to the Alt Right, which I am certainly not. What that frustration turns in to is just not writing about it at all. The picture I took is from an anti-Alt Right protest in Berkeley.



Could a replay of Charlottesville occur here? The Bay Area has many of its own icons of a racist past that may be ripe for removal. UC Berkeley’s Barrows Hall, …

RST on Facebook

About Radical Second Things

Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

Eva Gnostiquette is an artist, programmer, "future scientist," bi-trans girl and graphic designer. She voluntarily helped to create the first print issue Radical Second Things and designed our beautiful banners. Thanks so much, Eva!

Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

© 2017 Radical Second Things