Traumatic realism

I write about abuse and trauma, oppression, and the collapse of civilisation

I write about abuse and trauma

The Girl in In the Night the Men Come is gang-raped in prison by soldiers. She is a teenager. She flees her own country. She is abandoned at the airport by her courier when she arrives in another country.

Trauma in The City that Walked Away is a little more subtle. The Wooden God is a survivor. He has two young friends. Neither of them get out of there alive.

Survivor is very directly about abuse and trauma.

I was sexually abused as a child under five. My abuser was my mother. I witnessed life-threatening violence at the same age.

I write about madness

When we first meet The Girl in In the Night the Men Come she is psychotic. She often dissociates. It’s not clear that her friend The Prophet is completely sane.

The Last King and the Arch Priestess in The City that Walked Away are both completely delusional.

Survivor describes both psychotic and post-traumatic experiences.

In my 50s I was diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder. While I was never diagnosed with borderline personality disorder I am as sure as I can be that in my 30s and 40s that is what I had.

I write about oppression

In her own country The Girl is terrorised by gangs of armed men. In her new country she is pushed to the margin of survival by an indifferent bureaucracy.

In The City that Walked Away there is a hierarchy. The Elder Brothers dominate. The Free Citizens work. The Little People are not much better than slaves. The First Citizen reproduces the same oppression.

I grew up in the 60s. I thought that the levels of social mobility we saw then were permanent, rather than a one-off process. I thought the end of deference with the Profumo affair meant a more egalitarian society.

I was wrong.

In the 90s and the 00s I worked in mental health in the voluntary sector. My clients were vulnerable and powerless. I saw the effects of hierarchy and exclusion every day.

We don’t talk about class any more.

The nature of class has changed. It is still very powerful. It is still real.

I write about the collapse of society

I believe that production and consumption are destroying the world in which we live.

Societies have collapsed before. The Kingdom of the Hittites, which is roughly the model for the Old City in The City that Walked Away, simply disappeared. No-one knows why.

In the past civilisation would be rebuilt after collapse. It would be rebuilt in another society.

Now there is no other society. There is only a global society. We have taken the firewalls out.

The Old City in The City that Walked Away is abandoned. The world of In the Night the Men Come is swept away by floods and fire and earthquakes.

We destroy each other. We are hell-bent on destroying the world.

Photo credit: Crysco Photography on / CC BY-NC-ND