Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Jacki Lyden’

Getting inside your character’s mind

Recently, I read Jacki Lyden’s memoir again, Daughter of the Queen of Sheba: A Memoir. I don’t normally read memoirs more than once. But I wanted to re-experience her word riffs and stream of consciousness writing to see if I could find a way to use these tools to go deeper into the minds of my own characters.

Lyden tells the story of growing up and living with a mentally ill mother. Her parents divorced when she was young and, after her mother marries a doctor who turns out to be controlling and abusive, she begins to speak to God and believe that she is the Queen of Sheba.

The author writes the lines below in response to a letter from her mother, who says that she was really never mentally ill, and that her behavior was the result of the prescription drugs her doctor-husband gave her. Lyden writes:

“Never crazy. It never happened to you. Ant Trap Zap! It never happened to me. We’ll throw out those old pages and get some new ones at the K Mart. There is a life I’d like you to try, size six. We can always take it back if it doesn’t fit. You will be a housewife heroine, pushed into adversity by a demanding doctor-husband and prescription drugs, and I will be free forever from the taint of your insanity. Prescription drugs, I tell my friends confidently. Misdiagnosis. Miss Diagnosis. Clodhopper attendants, Nurse Ratched on the case. Dolores naked and chained in a pit. Lions and tigers and bears.” Read more