Conversations

On Mental Illness – Kate Medina on writing writing her new novel Two Little Girls

March 1, 2018

A physical ailment can be seen, felt, touched and healed far more easily. By its very nature, a mental illness is intangible

Many years ago, aged eighteen, when I had to decide which subject to study for my degree, I chose Psychology because I have always been fascinated by the ‘whys’ of human behaviour. In my teenaged enthusiasm, I naively thought that a Psychology degree would enable me to lift a virtual lid in people’s heads and peer, keen-eyed, straight into their brains – to decipher the secrets hidden there. I expected to come out of my three years of study, a virtual psychic. Needless to say, I was bitterly disappointed! The human brain is far too complex to be accessed so lightly.

A quarter of a century later, with the benefit of maturity, I decided to revisit that love when carving out a character to play the lead protagonist in my first crime series. Clinical psychologist, Dr Jessie Flynn, is the embodiment of my interest and she has allowed me to continue to study, through my writing, that ‘why’.

Two Little Girls is the third crime novel in the Dr Jessie Flynn series. It begins with the question: How could two little girls walk to their deaths and nobody notice?

At its heart, it is an intense psychological exploration into the minds of three very different women. Carolynn Reynolds is the mother of the first little girl, murdered two years previously. Accused of filicide, she was tried for her daughter’s murder and acquitted due to lack of evidence. But few believe that she was innocent. Much of Two Little Girls is written from Carolynn’s own perspective, as I wanted to challenge myself to write a character who may or may not be innocent of child murder. And challenge the reader to live inside that person’s head and try – as I tried many years earlier – to decipher the secrets hidden there, before they were revealed at the end of the novel.

Mental health is a huge issue, with an increasing number of people struggling to live within the boundaries of what our society considers to be normal and to survive the challenges of modern life mentally intact. A physical ailment can be seen, felt, touched and healed far more easily. By its very nature, a mental illness is intangible – hard to diagnose and even harder to treat. Ruby Lovatt is a young, drug-addicted vagrant who walks the beach looking for ‘treasure’, but what devastating trauma in her past has led her to this lonely, marginalised, despised life? And how is she connected to these two little girls?

Dr Jessie Flynn is the psychologist tasked with investigating these two highly disturbing and emotive murder cases, where nothing is what it seems. Invalided from the Army after she was attacked, she is struggling to adapt to life outside, and to control her OCD, driven by the suicide of her younger brother many years earlier.

So how could two little girls walk to their deaths and nobody notice?

Photo credit: Phillipa Gedge


Two Little Girls

Kate Medina

Out 22nd March 2018

Hardback

HarperCollins

9780008214005

RRP 14.99


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