Ed Dasso is the author of Past Aghast. He has agreed to do a guest post for those of us at Cat Get Off My Keyboard. I asked him to write a bit about the underlying Post Traumatic Stress Disorder theme prevalent in his novel. As our warriors return home from engagements abroad, and there are sure to be more engagements to come, I felt like it was as good a topic as any when exploring current relevancy within a piece of literature.
His novel is excellent and you can purchase it by clicking the cover above.
“You read about it in the headlines - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been blamed for a number of behavioral health issues for war veterans…” is not only the start of the synopsis of my novel, “Past Aghast”, but also describes how I developed the plot for my first major work of fiction.
As a physician I’ve had plenty of opportunity to see people afflicted with PTSD and see how it can significantly impact their lives. One day I received a call from a long-time friend, who had been deployed to Iraq twice. He told me that he’d just learned that a third deployment colleague of his had suffered from PTSD, returned to the States, and put a gun in his mouth as a way to escape the torment of PTSD.
I decided it was time to put pen to paper.
Even though I strove to make this an entertaining work of fiction, I’d also hoped that the main protagonist, being a veteran afflicted with PTSD, would somehow help to raise interest in veterans who suffer from PTSD. Sometimes these veterans suffer for the rest of their lives. In case you are interested, my blog contains links to articles about how PTSD increases the risk for depression and suicide for veterans. In creating the plot and characters, I used many actual experiences from my medical career and weaved them into the story. I wanted to create a story that combined the gritty characters like those in Vince Flynn books with the intriguing medical setting story lines found in Tess Gerritsen stories.
I also wanted to portray my female characters in a way that is consistent with my medical experience with many nurse colleagues, so you'll find the women characters in my books to be strong-willed but compassionate. My main character is intended to be someone who is believable; someone who is smart, compassionate...and yet has human flaws. I feel the main character should portray an example of the old adage, "there are no heroes, just ordinary people who perform heroic acts.” The book offers some "behind-the-scenes" views of the strange occurrences that can happen in the field of medicine, especially at large, metropolitan medical centers.
Fact is stranger than fiction far more often than most people would believe and many might be surprised at the number of events in my book that are based on an actual experience of mine. Lastly, this book is a work of fiction and, as in many works of fiction, I've taken a common issue and given it a different life. The character's responses to his affliction of PTSD are not necessarily reflective of current medical knowledge and scientific facts related to PTSD. I do hope, however, that the story may bring some attention to the struggle that many veterans face in dealing with PTSD.
Though I’ve published articles in national healthcare journals, written many "Ask the Doctor" columns and spoken frequently at national healthcare forums, fiction writing is reviving a lost love from earlier periods in my life where I enjoyed writing short fiction stories. In addition to a number of years as a practicing anesthesiologist and critical care specialist who spent many hours in emergency rooms, operating rooms, and intensive care units, I’ve also led teams in designing, creating and deploying population health programs to help people deal with depression related to their poor health.
I hope that you give Past Aghast a look and find embedded in the harsh realities of PTSD an entertaining novel that also makes you look at life with just a bit of a different tinted lens.