No one truly realizes the power the mind has over us. We all understand that mental illness is as real as any other illness, but we still tend to shy away from discussing it—from believing that our own thoughts can make us ill. In this day and age where information about everything is available at the click of a mouse, it’s hard for us to understand how our minds can behave with total autonomy like they sometimes do.
In my second novel, In Plain Sight, I’ve used the mind’s incredible abilities in several different ways. Misty, my main character, relives the horror of her past through lucid dreams. Have you ever had lucid dreams—the ones where you know you’re dreaming, but either you can’t wake up, or you can control them and the way they play out? When I’m in the process of writing a new book, lucid dreams help me develop the plot, by allowing me to control the dream. The catch is remembering all the details when I wake up.
Debbie, Misty’s four-year-old daughter, also deals with the power of the mind when she suffers night terrors—those horrible, paralyzing dreams that affect young children. I’ve spoken with parents of children who undergo these traumatic events, and like Nick, my hero, I can’t imagine what could have happened in the life of a four year old to cause such terror. Even doctors are torn as to what causes them—the only consolation is that the children themselves don’t remember the episodes.
My hero, Nick, suffers most from the power of the mind because he suffers from conversion disorder, a way the body copes with emotional pain by converting it into a neurological disorder. In Nick’s case, he’s blind, and until he can deal with misplaced guilt and the fear of failing those he loves, his vision will not return.
Sometimes, we are all blind in some ways. We may fail to see what’s truly important in life, or we may let our skewed vision of an event or people blind us to the truth about them. We don’t see through the disguises people wear everyday—the disguises they sometimes need to protect themselves from the harshness of reality and their own minds. As Shakespeare said:
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts…
Excerpt from In Plain Sight:
At times like these, she barely recognized the stranger she’d become. The plastic surgery had sculpted her chin, shortened her nose, and cut away the fullness of her cheeks. The deep red hair, cut waif-like, made her face seem even sharper and more angular despite the twenty pounds she’d gained. The face that looked back at her didn’t look as friendly and open as her own had. She was attractive, but there was a haughtiness to her that wasn’t her at all. People had considered her snobbish in Atlanta and Denver, but not in Pine Falls. Here they didn’t let appearances deceive them.
At times like these, having seen Kelly’s hair yesterday, she missed her waist-length, strawberry-blonde tresses—the first casualty in altering her appearance. She’d been reed-thin before the pregnancy, and even throughout much of it, but Kevin had disliked what impending motherhood had done to her body.
When she’d testified in court, her hair had been loose, hiding most of her face, and she’d worn her glasses. She’d also been nine months pregnant, but so thin that, other than the baby bump, no one would have noticed.
She’d had laser surgery on her eyes, kept her hair a deep auburn shade, cut almost too short—a style she didn’t really like, but she’d learned to live with—and she’d gained weight, most of it muscle since she worked out and practiced her self-defense moves every day. No one would ever push her around again. She wasn’t fat by any means, but she was curvier, looked more like a woman than a teenager, and she liked that about herself. No one would guess she was only twenty-three since she dressed and acted much older, and her most recent driver’s license stated she was twenty-eight. She’d given up five years of her life for safety in Pine Falls.
About the Author:
Susanne Matthews grew up as an avid reader of all types of books, but always with a penchant for happily ever after romances. In her imagination, she travelled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. Today, she has made her dreams come true. A retired educator, she now gets to spend her time writing, so she can share her adventures with her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.
Susanne lives in Cornwall, Ontario with her husband. She has three adult children and five grandchildren. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, chatting on the Internet with her writer friends, and hearing from her readers. You can learn more about Susanne at www.mhsusannematthews.ca
In Plain Sight is available from Crimson Romance, Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and iTunes.