DL Fowler's Blog

Lincoln’s Blackouts

Lincoln’s law partner, Herndon, described episodes when he’d find Lincoln sitting in a catatonic state from which he couldn’t be aroused. Often there’d be a book of poetry in his lap.

No one has any idea of what went on in Lincoln’s head during those episodes. He never talked about them.

One possibility is that were flashbacks of an earlier trauma that his body was defending himself against. That happens to people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Lincoln suffered several traumatic moments early on. At 7 he almost drowned, at 9 he suffered a life-threatening head injury, and months later helped bury his mother, at 10 his father left him and his sister to weather a brutal winter unattended and on the brink of starvation, as a teenager his father beat him often and when he was just past 20 his first love died. Lincoln’s emotional responses to these and other events are explored in Lincoln Raw-a biographical novel.

Maybe his psyche just went into overload from processing flashbacks of too many traumas at once.

Would we let someone with that much emotional baggage be President today?

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Gettysburg Address – the rest of the story

Gettysburg Address

We shortchange ourselves when we study history as discreet events, dislodged from the context of what happens around them. That’s especially true when we divorce those incidents from the personal circumstances of those who put historical events in motion. (more…)

Lincoln suffered from PTSD?

Abe Lincoln was anything but normal in many ways, including behavior that demonstrated hyper-vigilance, suicidal thoughts, exposing himself to mortal dangers, extreme emotional swings, unexpected eruptions, etc.

After almost drowning in a creek at 7 years old, his mother died when he was 9. He sat on her grave during a storm to be sure her body didn’t float up out of the ground. He had a similar reaction a dozen years later when Ann Hathaway, his first (maybe only) true love died.

During the Civil War he sometimes ventured to the front lines and was nearly wounded. Once he stood on the ramparts of a fort, wearing a top hat, giving Rebel soldiers a 7 foot target to shoot at. He even talked about suicide during Cabinet meetings.

Twice as a young man he was on suicide watch. Once he subjected himself to torturous medical treatments that were the equivalent of self mutilation.

All of these behaviors could be symptomatic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Lincoln Raw-a biographical novel explores the possibility. Read it and decide for yourself.

Black Swan–Inner & Outer Demons

Posted in Bloggers, Kristen Lamb, Writing by DLFowler on May 2, 2011

Black Swan–Inner & Outer Demons.

Great illustration of how to show a chatacter’s inner conflicts. I’ll tell you how I used it once I release Ripples – a novel

Lincoln’s Cosmopsis and My Tribute to John Barth

Don’t bother looking it up. Cosmopsis isn’t likely in your dictionary. John Barth used (probably invented) the term in his 1958 controversial novel, The End of the Road. The image of Jacob Horner, Barth’s main character, sitting on a train station bench all night has stuck with me since my college days – yes, they had trains before I entered USC.

What was Horner’s problem? He was paralyzed by indecision. He had $30 with which to buy a train ticket and couldn’t find a reason to visit any of the available destinations.

No. That doesn’t parallel anything we know about Abraham Lincoln. Not the indecision, that is. But the paralysis, yes.  Many of Lincoln’s contemporaries describe episodes like the one his law partner William Herndon recounted. Lincoln sitting in a chair in their law office one morning, staring into the cosmos, disconnected from the reality around him.  Herndon couldn’t shake him out of his trance. Two hours later, Lincoln kicked one leg straight out then crossed it over his other leg and launched into telling a raunchy story as if the previous two hours never happened.

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Strong Female Characters

Posted in Characters, Lincoln's Diary, My Books by DLFowler on February 11, 2011

As I created Sarah Sue Morgan for LINCOLN’S DIARY – A NOVEL I hoped she’d become a strong female character. One of my readers called her a “female MacGyver.” Hopefully, that means I came close to the mark.  But since my next novel includes a female protagonist, I decided to do some additional research on the subject.

I think I struck pay dirt when I came across an article on  overthinkingit.com.  The flowchart probably overthinks the question a little, but the trail that runs along the top of the graphic provides a pretty good recipe for creating strong female characters. All you have to do is answer the following questions in the affirmative. Let’s see how Sarah scores.

  • Can she carry her own story? [check]
  • Is she three dimensional? [more concrete – does she have internal conflict? check]
  • Is she more than a flag bearer for an idea? [check]
  • Does she have any flaws? [and we’re talking ditz here … check]
  • Does she survive the second act? [check]

Bingo! She’s a strong female character. 

Of course that’s how I see it. The trick is making her live that way on the printed page.  If you take the time to check her out, please let me know if I hit the mark.

Non-violent Psychopath at Risk

Antisocial and narcissistic. Jacob has to avoid both at any cost. The stack of articles he’s pored over the last dozen years say so. They tell him he could have turned down the serial killer path long ago. But early on, he chose to flog the other seven ‘defects’ into submission. Or at least he’d channeled them into a brilliant career as a corporate CEO.   

 Burying the memory of the little girl who lit up his life – she always made him beam, at least until she was taken from him – helped balance his sense of right and wrong. As long as he kept that straight he could make his narcissism seem to be about other people’s wounds. It was easy to rally the troops when he defended another tormented or abused soul. That gave him a sense of belonging to something bigger than himself at the same time he got a taste of the justice he ached for. So he’d make it about something other than himself. Unselfishness at its highest. But if he fixated on his own horror, he’d be a lost soul no one else cared about. And eventually, all he’d become obsessed with balancing the scales any way he could.

 Keeping that stolen little girl buried in the clutter of his memories these last dozen years had kept Jacob on the sociable path. Now meeting Amanda took that option off the table. If their ripples had never met, he’d still be safe. So would the rest of the world. Except for Amanda.

So if he burned Amanda’s violator, would that just be the beginning? Or would justice taste so sweet he’d devour every scumbag who might have robbed him of the little girl he once cherished? A tingle rushed up his spine as he imagined draining the lifeblood from one bastard after another, like a vampire feeding its thirst for survival.

Lincoln suffered from PTSD?

Posted in Lincoln, Lincoln Raw, Lincoln's Diary, Lincoln's Psychology, My Books, Psychology, PTSD, Themes by DLFowler on September 2, 2010

Abe Lincoln was anything but normal in many ways, including behavior that demonstrated hyper-vigilance, suicidal thoughts, exposing himself to mortal dangers, extreme emotional swings, unexpected eruptions, etc.

After almost drowning in a creek at 7 years old, his mother died when he was 9. He sat on her grave during a storm to be sure her body didn’t float up out of the ground. He had a similar reaction a dozen years later when Ann Hathaway, his first (maybe only) true love died.

During the Civil War he sometimes ventured to the front lines and was nearly wounded. Once he stood on the ramparts of a fort, wearing a top hat, giving Rebel soldiers a 7 foot target to shoot at. He even talked about suicide during Cabinet meetings.

Twice as a young man he was on suicide watch. Once he subjected himself to torturous medical treatments that were the equivalent of self mutilation.

All of these behaviors could be symptomatic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Lincoln Raw-a biographical novel explores the possibility. Read it and decide for yourself.

A lawyer who writes about justice?

Posted in Favorite Writers, Robert Dugoni, Themes by DLFowler on April 26, 2010

Of course that’s not me.  I didn’t even know lawyers have anything to do with justice.

But Robert Dugoni, NYT BestSelling author, captures the concept with the skill of an artist.  Not that justice is the theme I’m focused on – but you get the idea – expect to stand along side my characters as they face of life or death struggles fighting, or maybe convincing themselves to keep on fighting, for ideals or relationships they hold dear.

The stakes are always higher when they’re personal … so that’s what we’ll do – get personal.