Mental Health—Let Us Not Be Silent
by Garrett Leigh
A few months ago, I got an email regarding Slide that broke my heart, not because it was negative,(it wasn’t, in the grand scheme of things), or because the reader didn’t like the book (they didn’t seem to give a f*** either way), but because of two sentences that blew me away with their ignorance.
Ash’s psycho issues bored me. I wished he’d just take some Valium and get medicated already.
What the actual fuck? Are you bloody kidding me? Do we really live in a world where people, young and old, suffering with crippling mental health disorders are expected to take their tranquilizers and keep quiet?
Sadly, I think we do.
But that’s not what ‘inspired’ me to write Ash the way I did. That’s just something that winds me up and I felt like shouting about…
Ha. No. For me, Ash’s character came from personal experience, both my own and those close to me, mixed with a healthy dash of my dark imagination. At several points during the production of Slide, it was suggested to me (not by my lovely publisher) that perhaps the story—the romance—would be better served by the dulling down of what turned out to be a full scale, no holds barred, psychotic break for Ash, but I ignored them, because, for me, and many others who’ve read Slide since, the depth of Ash’s convoluted mental health issues was what made them realize just what poor Pete was dealing with every time he made a bad decision, or handled Ash badly.
Drug addiction, abuse, trauma, PTSD. You’ll find them all in Slide, and its sequel, Rare, and I’m bloody proud of both books, for that, if nothing else…
So, yeah, I hope that answers your question, or at least gives you some insight into how Slide came to be.
Thanks for having me!
Don’t look back. Don’t you ever look back…
Shy tattoo artist Ash has a troubled past. Years of neglect, drug abuse, and life on the streets have taken their toll, and sometimes it seems the deep, unspoken bond with his lover is the only balm for wounds he doesn’t quite understand.
Chicago paramedic Pete is warmth, love, and strength—things Ash never knew he could have, and never even knew he wanted until Pete showed him. But fate is a cruel, cruel mistress, and when nightmares collide with the present, their tentatively built world comes crashing down.
Traumatic events in Pete’s work life distance him from home, and he doesn’t realize until it’s too late that Ash has slipped away. Betrayal, secrets, and lies unfold, and when a devastating coincidence takes hold, Pete must fight with all he has to save the love of his life.
An Excerpt from Slide
Ash was Texan by birth, but his southern roots only laced his speech when he was too tired to repress them… too tired to block out all the horrible shit that kept an invisible barrier between us.
He was just seventeen when his friend Ellie found him drawing on the streets of Philadelphia. He was homeless and drew comic book characters on the sidewalk for money. The way she told it, he was one of the best street artists in the city, but he said he just did it to survive. Ellie was in college at the time, and she spent the next three years trying to get him to go to a shelter. Eventually, she got her way, and when she moved back to Chicago a few months later, she asked him to come with her. It took him a year of procrastination and pulling his shit together, but after finishing his tattoo apprenticeship in Philly, he did just that.
Living together was a huge adjustment for both of us. Some days I thought we’d cracked it, but others….
I draped the comforter over us and tucked it around his shoulders. He settled against me with his arm stretched out across my torso. I ran my hand absently along his bicep and enjoyed the rare moment. Though he could be tactile when his mood was right, he rarely cuddled up to me so freely. Most times, he preferred our positions reversed—him on his back with his arms around me.
Curious, I pressed a kiss to the top of his sweat-dampened head. “You okay?”
“Yeah, I just missed you.”
I smiled into the darkness. “I missed you too.”
A light hum was his only answer, so I held him a bit tighter and made the most of having him curled against me. After a while, I felt him shift. I opened my eyes and quirked an eyebrow, too mellow to speak. He just stared at me, but his blazing eyes told me what I knew he found so hard to articulate.
I put my hand to his head and nudged it back down with a sad smile.
About Garrett Leigh
Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always always be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.
When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.
Garrett also works as a freelance cover artist for various publishing houses and independent authors under the pseudonym G.D. Leigh. For cover art info, please visit blackjazzpress.com.
In this blog tour, Garrett is giving away an eBook copy of Slide to one lucky winner! To enter, just click the link below!
Please be aware that the only way to enter the giveaway is to click the Rafflecopter link above. Any comments on this post will not count towards entering the giveaway unless otherwise stated but are still welcome anyway.