- What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?
I first heard about the abuse and exploitation of Chris Sizemore in 1997, when she came to Dallas to be the narrator of a documentary film about multiple personalities I was making. I had met her previously at conferences several times (the opening 5 minutes of this film are posted at www.rossinst.com). I had no idea how her doctors had behaved, or how much of the real story they had left out in their book, The Three Faces of Eve. As an expert on multiple personality disorder, now called dissociative identity disorder, I had read The Three Faces of Eve, and I was aware that her case is still referred to in psychology textbooks as the most widely read case history ever published by a psychiatrist. I thought it was outrageous what Dr. Thigpen and Dr. Cleckley had done to Chris, including extreme financial manipulation and abuse – they paid her $3.00 for the rights to her life story, and told her they were writing a “medical monograph” about her case, when in fact their book became a best seller and sold several million copies. The real story of what happened to Chris Sizemore needed to see the light of day, and it needed a book to cover all the details. Also, it needed to validated by a psychiatrist with expertise in multiple personality disorder.
- What is it about and whom do you believe us your targeted reader?
- What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down?
The reader will remember this as perhaps the worst case of abuse and exploitation of a psychiatric patient ever documented. But the best part of the story is Chris Sizemore’s strength, resilience, and recovery from her multiple personality disorder in the mid-1970’s. She went on to become a speaker on mental health, a gifted painter, and an excellent mother. It is a story of adversity followed by triumph and recovery.
- What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?
Keep on writing. Believe in yourself, and don’t let the turkeys get you down. Being a writer involves lots of rejections from publishers, and there are so many books and writers out there that it’s hard to get noticed. But don’t give up. I’ve published 200 papers in peer-reviewed journals and I still get papers rejected multiple times before I find a place for them. I’ve done a lot of creative writing too, which I enjoy a lot, but I’ve never gotten “the big break.” I wish one would come along, but I don’t let the lack of one stop me.
- What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
I see what everyone else sees – a move away from physical books into electronic media, and future growth in podcasts, blogs, internet distribution and the like. I have my own small publishing company – I also see a move away from conventional publishers and brick-and-mortar bookstores. As a publisher, Amazon is just so much easier to deal with and much more efficient than regular bookstores. As a writer, I learned that – unless your books are selling millions – regular publishers don’t really do that much for you. They take a lot of the revenue for themselves and you still have to do most of the marketing. If you self-publish, you have control over cover design, content, the size of print runs and every aspect of your book, and you end up with more net revenue per book. Like other writers, I wanted my books to be published by a “real publisher” but once this had happened a number of times, I figured out that self-publishing is a very viable option.
- What great challenges did you have in writing your book?
The main challenge I faced was finding the time to get the background research and the actual writing done. I have a career as a psychiatrist, so I have to manage my time to get other projects done. It’s all about staying focused, structuring your time, and actually sitting down and putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). Also, organizing the flow of the book and trying to make it gripping and readable without getting bogged down in the documentation took some effort. Despite those hurdles, in a way the story wrote itself. The positive feedback I got from Chris Sizemore about the manuscript helped a lot.
- If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
There are several reasons: 1) it is inspiring and shows that it is possible to overcome abuse and exploitation, 2) it is readable and is a good story, 3) Chris Sizemore was a wonderful person and her story should be remembered, 4) the book is reasonably priced and not too long, and 5) I would appreciate it.
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