MEMORIES IN AN ATTIC
By Lara Nance
In my paranormal romance, Memories of Murder, there is a story within a story. When I find some historical fact that captures my imagination, it invariably ends up as part of one of my books, hidden among the twists and turns of the tale.
The plot of Memories of Murder was sparked by observation of my Alzheimer’s patients and how they seem to be in another world part of the time. I fantasized that maybe they now operated on a different plane, and in that world they could see and communicate with ghosts.
From there I created the old insane asylum from which these ghosts would come. That led to my interest in old insane asylums. I studied pictures of the old Kirkbride buildings, the castle-like asylum structures of the 19th century. Then I ran across an article that I couldn’t stop thinking about.
This article told the story of the closing of the Willard Psychiatric Center of New York in 1995. As the staff worked to salvage remnants of the past, they came across an attic filled with hundreds of old suitcases. The suitcases held the last effects of some asylum inmates and the contents told the stories of their lives.
It’s a chilling reminder of how those considered to be insane were treated in the past. Many of these people were locked up for life for little more than a public outburst of anger. And yet they spent their entire lives in the confines of the asylum. Later a non-fiction book was written chronicling the people and their lives. In addition, an exhibition of the suitcases was set up.
Now that you know the real story, you’ll recognize how it influenced my scene in Memories of Murder where Maeve and Paul find the old maintenance shed from the asylum filled with suitcases.
If you’re interested in learning more about the true story of the suitcases in the attic of Willard, follow the links below for a news article and the actual exhibition site.
Article in Newsweek Magazine about the discovery of the suitcases:
Website of the exhibition:
Memories of Murder is a paranormal romance published by Crescent Moon Press. A portion of the proceeds from sales of this novel will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of my dementia patients, past and present.
For Lara's complete biography and more information on her books, please visit: www.LaraNance.com
Check out Memories of Murder at: www.CrescentMoonPress.com