E. M. Fitch is an author who seeks to explore the deliciously dark secrets found on moonless nights, in the hidden alcoves of the forests, beyond the veil of reality, and within the darkest corners of our hearts. Her novels OF THE TREES and AT WOODS EDGE (Month9Books) are YA Dark Fantasy stories inspired by haunted cemeteries, urban legends, and the darker musings of W.B. Yeats. She is the author of THE BREAK FREE SERIES, a YA zombie trilogy. Her short stories RELEASE and THE CREEP were featured respectively in Lurking in the Shadows and Lurking in the Mind anthologies (CHBB). You can find out more about her and her work at the following links:
MENTAL HEALTH IN LITERATURE:
How to create real and relatable characters who struggle with Mental Health
What does depression look like? How does it feel to be paranoid? What is a personality disorder? Do sociopaths really feel no empathy? What are some telltale markers of psychosis? Anxiety? Mood disorders?
Veteran psychiatric nurse and Young Adult author, E.M. Fitch, will take you through real-world examples on how mental health challenges and behaviors present in everyday life. Touching on popular YA examples from novels such as Thirteen Reasons Why, We Were Liars, Girl in Pieces, and Speak, E.M. Fitch will lead a discussion based program on how to create realistic characters battling with a myriad of internal difficulties.
All questions and curiosities will be welcome!
E.M. FITCH'S WRITING TIP
I write horror for a living, and I was once asked: how do I keep my own fear in check while writing?
All of my stories are born of my fears. In Of The Trees I explored my fear of hearing voices. I think hearing or seeing things that aren’t really there is terrifying, and I have the utmost respect for people who manage this throughout their lifetime. There was a moment, lying in bed, unable to sleep, when I had to make that decision: Am I going to continue freaking myself out every night, writing this book that disturbs me; or am I going to abandon it?
Obviously, I chose to keep writing. If my protagonist was going to be haunted by whispers from the woods—and she would be, good and truly—I would need to imagine this myself. So I did need a way to keep my fear in check. If you write horror, you’ll need to develop a way to do this, too. For me, I use immersion. There’s lots of ways to manage fear, this is just one of them. I saturated myself with scary things. I watched horror movies alone in the house, listened to scary podcasts when I drove around with no one else in the car, read books that made me shiver and check under the bed before I went to sleep. I took things that unsettled me, and I embraced them. After a while, those things didn’t feel so scary anymore. Or I felt braver. Either way.
Thereare things in life that will always feel scary. The trick is to remember that fear is a gift. It raises the alarm, shifts your body into fight or flight mode, heightens your senses. You should never dismiss this gift! Those alarm bells are ringing for a reason, and they might save your life someday. But you can’t live paralyzed either—not as a writer, and not in the real world. Be afraid, but move. Embrace your fears, but stay attuned to your gut reactions. Use logic and reason, diversion, immersion, deep breathing, meditation, or whatever method you have to keep those fears at bay. And above all, remember that you always have a choice, not a choice of how to feel, but a choice of how to act. That’s what I did. And it’s helped me to grow, not only as a writer, but as a person.