Thursday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day, and to commemorate the day, Brandon Sanderson beta readers Paige Vest and Ross Newberry are revisiting the author’s work to explore mental illness in comparison to the Hoed, the fallen Elantrians from Brandon’s first published work, Elantris.
Before we get started on our second foray into mental illness as we relate it to Sanderson’s work, we want to include a content warning for the topic of suicide. Please consider this warning if repeated discussion of suicide may cause you distress.
In addition, we must point out that neither of us is a mental health professional. The content of this article contains very personal anecdotal observations, and should not be construed as medical advice. If you are experiencing thoughts of harming yourself or others, please seek help from people who are trained to assist you. In the United States, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or chat by visiting the Suicide Prevention Lifeline Chat.
Paige: I’d like to begin by quoting from a Facebook note I posted on my wall four and a half years ago, just over two years after I received my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. Though I’d suffered from the disorder for most of my life, I was still familiarizing myself with the ins and outs of what bipolar depression and mania meant (still am, tbh!). And I had something of an epiphany the night I wrote this note. Here’s a bit of it:
I’ve always felt deep empathy for the Elantrians because of their inability to heal physical injuries, and whatever details of the story may fade between re-reads, that aspect of the story has always stayed with me.
A camper died by suicide recently in the state park at which I work, and though I didn’t know the man, the incident has weighed heavily on my mind. Partly because of that tragic happening and partly because of other goings-on in my life, I’ve thought a lot about these book characters. These broken Elantrians. About how their injuries cumulate, one atop the other, until the pain is too much for them to bear. I’ve come—finally—to something of a realization regarding my feelings toward these characters. Allow me to quote from the coppermind.net wiki on the subject.
“…The Elantrian people stopped healing, so any injuries, however minor, remained indefinitely as painful as the moment they were received. Since the Elantrians were still immortal, some sank beneath the weight of their pain, losing their minds.”
THIS…is what bipolar depression feels like for me. Injury after injury, compounded one atop the other; only the injuries are mental and emotional rather than physical. They don’t often fade. They rarely lessen. They’re always there, fresh as the day they were received, building and building. The weight of them can become unbearable as time goes by.
It makes one better understand and appreciate how the Elantrians become Hoed, for that’s what happens to people who suffer from bipolar disorder and similar disorders. It becomes too much. And they just want a release from their pain.
Ross: As the “more neurotypical” side of this team, the cumulative nature of this stuff is incredibly unfamiliar to me. When I experience emotional stress or trauma, I tend to just… get over it. It can be intense at the time, but once I’m out of the situation, I breathe, and I center myself, and…it goes away. Poof. Gonezo. It’s rough to think of all the trauma stacking up and up and up ….
But enough about all that. Let’s dig into this issue.
P: For anyone who hasn’t read this excellent book…First, why not? Come on, it’s one book. Go read it because, seriously, this article will spoil the whole thing, if you care about such things. You’ve been warned. Second, a quick plot summary:
Elantris used to be a place of magic, and the Elantrians were gods in the eyes of people, with their ability to create and heal with a mere wave of the hand. But after a cataclysmic event, known as the Reod, the inhabitants of the city became “cursed,” and the city was sealed off from society.
R: And then…MAGIC ZOMBIES.
P: Cool, right? You definitely want to read this book. But if you haven’t and you insist on continuing, then let’s get to it.
We’re going to take a look at some key quotes from the book and I’ll talk about how they reflect the lived experience of mental illness and where they took me mentally and emotionally during my most recent reread of Elantris, almost seven years post-diagnosis.
Part 1: The Shadow of Elantris
“Your body won’t repair itself like it should.” —Galladon
“Every pain, Sule, every cut, every nick, every bruise, and every ache—they will stay with you until you go mad from the suffering.” —Galladon
P: Galladon is the first reasonable person that Raoden meets upon being cast into Elantris after being taken by the Shaod (or Transformation), an event which used to turn people into living gods but now turns them into something like the living dead. Raoden is reeling, unable to find his bearings in his new and, let’s face it, horrifying situation. The other man calms him, and as he introduces Raoden to the reality of being an Elantrian post-Reod (see mention of a cataclysmic event above), the subject of injury and pain inevitably comes up. Numerous times.
There is a lot of repetition regarding the injuries suffered by Elantrians, and I primarily focused on these. But in Chapter 4, Galladon hits on something interesting in regards to the Hoed.
“The cuts, the bruises, the stubbed toes…they pile up. One can only take so much.” —Galladon
“….The slightest scratch, no matter how negligible, added to an Elantrian’s pain. The more careful one was, the longer one stayed sane.”
“The Hoed, Galladon called them, those Elantrians who had succumbed to the pain. Their minds lost, their lives were filled with continual, unrelenting torture.”
P: The Hoed… Elantrians who can’t die, but have sustained so much injury and suffer from so much pain that they can no longer function. They are pain; it is all they can feel, all they focus on. It overwhelms them. And they sink into despair and hopelessness, lying in gutters and moaning their pain for whoever will listen.
This feels much like my experience with bipolar depression in that the compounded pains can drive me to lose what hope I may once have had, and it drains my will so completely that not only can I not get out of bed and function as a normal human adult, I simply don’t want to. I no longer care about keeping up appearances.
I experience this more often than I’d like to admit, and it’s exceedingly difficult to put on that normal face and tell friends, family, and coworkers that I’m fine. I’m okay.
Most of them were quiet but few were completely silent. As he passed, Raoden could hear their mumbles, sobs, and whines. Most seemed to be repeating words and phrases to themselves, a mantra to accompany their suffering.
“Domi, Domi, Domi…”
“So beautiful, once so very beautiful…”
“Stop, stop, stop. Make it stop…”
P: Just, oof. I hadn’t recalled the mantras of the Hoed before my recent reread, but upon seeing this line, I could hear myself doing it, too. Trying to talk myself out of a panic attack…trying to bring myself down below the emotion enough to think rationally…trying to convince myself that I’m okay. “Shh… you’re okay. You’re fine. Just stop now. You’re fine.”
And in Chapter 22:
Raoden began to feel sick as they walked toward the chapel, the mounting pains of his several dozen bruises and scrapes suddenly pushing against him with suffocating pressure. It was as if his body were encased in a blazing fire—his flesh, bones, and soul being consumed in the heat.
Must be strong. They need me to be strong. With an inner groan of defiance, Raoden pushed through the haze of agony and managed a weak smile. “I’m fine.”
P: I’m fine. I’m okay. This made me smile sardonically when I read it. I know that Sanderson wrote these characters to be suffering crippling physical pain but I’ll be damned if some of these phrases aren’t speaking directly to me and the mental and emotional pain I’ve experienced throughout my life. I’m not fine, I’m not okay, but I say the words anyway, for a variety of reasons: So that people don’t worry. So that people don’t look at me a bit sideways if I say how I really am. So that I appear to be normal. I’m fine. I’m okay. Mmm…lies.
R: Do you want to talk about the Wearing of Masks at this point? The way you’ve talked about putting on a mask to hide the Real You from other people, so you can avoid drawing more attention to yourself and your problems, and just sort of…keep on trucking?
P: I definitely do this. And often, when speaking my mantra to calm down, I’m out somewhere, at work or anxiety parking as I try to make myself go into the store. I have to calm my panic and become someone else, much as Raoden does when he becomes Spirit as a new Elantrian. He doesn’t want who he really is to be a distraction to those he’s trying to help rise above their pain…
“It was as if Elantris was intent on dying, a city committing suicide.”
P: This is one line that I wish I could change in this book full of quotes that are so relevant to my illness. I would have said “a city attempting suicide.”
R: You’ve mentioned this to me before. This is because “commit” is normally used to refer to actions that are illegal or immoral, and that the act of suicide as an ultimate escape from the pain and suffering shouldn’t be considered as selfish or immoral, yes?
P: That’s it, exactly, yes. I truly feel that the word “committing” in relation to suicide just increases the stigma surrounding mental illness and the suicidal ideation of those who suffer. I think it’s important to note the distinction, and why it’s meaningful.
“… and here, even a couple of slight cuts can be more devastating, and more agonizing, than a swift decapitation.” —Galladon
P: This may sound ridiculous, but it’s so true. For many who suffer, such as myself (it’s difficult to keep turning this on me and my experience; I want to hide behind they), there is a genuine belief that a quick end to the pain is preferable to the continuation of their/my often agonizing existence.
Yes, I speak of suicide. However, let me talk about ideation for a moment. Suicidal ideation isn’t necessarily a plan, which is therapy-speak for, okay, let’s get this person into an inpatient program, STAT! To my understanding, ideation is more the idea of ending the pain. It’s wanting a break from the blackness of bipolar depression that siphons any joy one might take in normal, everyday pleasures. It’s not necessarily a desire to be dead—it’s just wanting the pain to stop, somehow. It’s wanting to be away.
“I have to keep moving, Raoden repeated to himself, keep working. Don’t let the pain take control.”
P: This development was also familiar to me. Raoden thinks that he has to keep himself distracted from the pain, so as not to let it take control of him.
We all have something that does this for us and fortunately, I have many such things. First and foremost is my perfect new granddaughter, who is almost one year old. She is the best and most effective medicine I’ve found in the nearly seven years since my diagnosis. There’s also my writing, which is my emotional outlet and pressure valve. My friends, some of whom are literally my saviors. My cats. Yes, my cats—they ground me when I’m home alone and the monsters start to whisper in my mind. They give me a reason to rise above the pain because who else would take care of them?
R: Whatever works, sister. WHATEVER WORKS.
P: Yes, whatever works. Everybody has something to keep them moving, and it’s not terribly difficult to find that something, if we but look. So look, as often as it takes.
“What purpose can we have besides suffering?” —Galladon
“We need to convince ourselves we can go on…. If we can restore even a tiny bit of hope to these people then their lives will improve drastically.” —Raoden
P: Despite Galladon being a reasonable person for Raoden to latch himself to once he arrives in Elantris, the Dula can skirt close to the edge of despair, as would any post-Reod Elantrian. Raoden tells him that they need to convince themselves that they can go on, and I found this phrasing extremely enlightening.
Sometimes, when in the grips of depression, I have to find a reason to get out of bed, to go to work, to attend a function, even to just to go into the store for cat food.
R: [aside] Those cats might be a bigger deal than you think…
P: If you ask them, they definitely are!
Raoden is spot on when he talks about the restoration of hope. Hope is so difficult to find in the darkest depths of depression, but it’s there. Read that again. It is there…we just have to keep looking, and hold on to anything we might find that can pull us out. It may be a task left unfinished…or it could be the hand of a friend, reaching for us, to pull us out of the muck…it may be a child that we can’t bear to leave behind. It may be a project at work that you want to see through to completion. And then it might be something else, then something else, and so on. But as down as I can be in my life, I still know that there is hope for each of us and I desperately search for it when I’m at my lowest. Guess what? I usually find it, even if it’s just a smidge of brightness at the end of a dark tunnel. I find it, and I reach for it.
R: And your friends are very glad you do. And I think it’s important to point out to everyone reading this: if someone you care about struggles with depression, or mania, or suicidal ideation of any kind, please don’t wait for them to reach out to you. Make sure they know that they matter to you. Something as simple as that can make you the tiny ray of light they end up reaching for.
P: I can’t begin to stress how very true this is. And how very important.
“The pain and hunger were always there but things were going so well that he could almost forget the pain of his half dozen bumps and cuts.”
“They say you have a secret that makes the pain go away. My injuries are almost too much. I figured I could either give you a chance or go find myself a gutter and join the Hoed.” —Kahar
P: Raoden manages to provide the Elantrians who come to him for help with a solution to their pain and their maddening hunger: he gives them purpose. With Kahar, we see the Elantrian ask Raoden if, once he cleans as he’s asked to do, he will then be given the secret to feeling better. After a time, he realizes that by being given a purpose, a meaningful task, that he has already found the secret to feeling better.
This is not such a far-fetched idea. In my experience, when I’m feeling especially dark, I usually will feel better if I have a task, such as writing a story for a competition or helping to plan my granddaughter’s first birthday party. These kinds of things can actually distract me from depression. That’s not to say that it stays gone, but rising above it can do wonders for a while.
These people, even the newcomers, were dangerously close to losing hope. They thought that they were damned and assumed that nothing could save their souls from rotting away.
We see the text at this point talking of how Raoden reacts to the air of despair in the city with “defiant optimism.” It continues, “The worse things get, the more determined he was to face it without complaint. But the forced cheerfulness took its toll.”
He defies the dying city and the way it drags down its inhabitants, many of whom he knows are relying on him…he thinks about how he can’t let his own pain show.
This is also remarkably similar to how it can feel to be sunken into a deep depression. If there’s a purpose I find important, or a person I don’t want to let down, I will do my best to stuff the darkness away into a corner of my mind and show the world as happy a face as I can muster. I’m fine. I’m okay.
I will force as much fake cheerfulness as I can into my attitude, if only to reassure people that I’m okay and can continue with whatever needs to be done. Hey, “fake it till you make it” can have many strategic uses, and sometimes, you fake it until you really do feel better. It’s a thing, and it’s worth a try when you can’t find anything else to lift you up.
R: I’ll point out here that, while faking it till you make it can work, your friends are still going to give you serious side-eye and worry about you as you do.
P: I’m grateful to have friends that give me that side-eye!
“He wasn’t sure how long he would last. After barely a week and a half in Elantris, he was already in so much pain it was sometimes difficult to focus. How long would it be before he couldn’t function at all?”
“I am worried about life. Not just survival, Galladon, life.” —Raoden
“It was as if he floated through darkness itself, unable to speak, completely alone. Perhaps this was what death would bring, his soul set adrift in an endless, lightless void.”
“It takes them all from us. It takes everything, and leaves us with nothing.” —Karata, re: the Reod
Raoden, re: Karata: “She was tired; he could see it in her eyes. Now, if the time came, she could rest.”
P: Sanderson’s exploration of suicide in relation to his characters in Elantris was spot on. All of this talk of people yearning for an end to their pain is incredibly familiar for someone like me, who has battled mental illness for forty years and who has often wished for relief.
R: I really wish I had something more to say here, but… *hug*.
“The man had come looking for a magical solution to his woes, but he had found an answer much more simple. Pain lost its power when other things became more important.”
P: Again, we touch on distraction as a healthy coping mechanism (“healthy” provided it’s not causing you or others harm, and it’s legal!). Pain can indeed lose its power when other things are important to you. However, this doesn’t mean that any medications you may be taking or therapy you may be receiving are less important than your chosen coping mechanism. Keep those going! Definitely keep those going unless and until you and your doctor/therapist decide otherwise.
“The pain remained; it was growing so strong that it even corrupted his dreams. He had dozens of tiny wounds and bruises now… He could feel each one distinctly, and together they formed a unified frontal assault on sanity.”
P: A. Unified. Frontal. Assault. On. Sanity. YES. This. They may be tiny wounds, physical for Raoden but mental and emotional for me, but there are dozens. Scores. Hundreds. After forty years of illness, there are thousands. You’ve heard of “death by a thousand cuts”? Yes. Even a thousand tiny paper cuts will drive you mad. So consider that if you encounter someone who seems to overreact to something you perceive as something that’s no big deal—this moment, this problem, may be their thousandth cut.
I once tried to explain this to someone using a glass of water. Not literally, I’d have had to clean up after myself. But I described it as pouring water into a glass. Sometimes it was a few ounces, sometimes it was a drop. But everything that hurt, mentally or emotionally, anything that was upsetting in some way, added to the amount of water in the glass. Before long, it was full, and even one more drop would cause it to overflow. It’s not always that thousandth cut, that last drop of water that causes a dive into depression or a breakdown—it’s all of the cuts and all of the drops that came before.
“The pain still burned him. It threatened him every morning when he awoke and stayed with him every moment he was conscious…. He filled his days, leaving no empty moments to contemplate his suffering. Nothing worked. The pain continued to build.”
P: Sadly, this is a reality when one suffers from most types of depression, and perhaps most especially bipolar depression. I can’t tell you what sets it apart from chronic or situational depression, as I’ve never actually experienced those varieties on their own, but bipolar depression is all of this, all the time: unrelenting, unceasing, and unending, as there’s no cure for bipolar disorder.
Finding that all-important purpose and seeking out healthy distractions, learning new coping mechanisms, adding more tools to your toolbox, finding ways to help others—these are all things that I can do to pull myself from my depression as much as I can. And I do them whenever I can, because the alternative is not truly an option.
Ideation is not a plan. Again: Ideation is not a plan. If someone you know and maybe love is talking about suicide, even in a seemingly joking manner, it could be a cry for help. It could be the only way they know to reach out and explain or give voice to that ideation. Don’t downplay it. It’s difficult to know how to handle such a situation, but ignoring it isn’t recommended.
As always, there are resources available; there is a veritable ton of helpful information on the internet for you and/or for your loved one who may be in trouble. Help lines, chat lines … see the above links and phone numbers; in fact, here they are again: in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or chat by visiting the Suicide Prevention Lifeline Chat.
Read the plethora of available articles, testimonials, research papers, and treatments. You name it, you can find it, for any mental health issue. Use the internet: seek out the National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, but not the mousy one as seen in the animated movie!). Check out MentalHealth.gov, the World Health Organization (WHO) website, the Mayo Clinic’s website, TeenMentalHealth.org. Use your resources. For yourself, and for those you love. It’s worth the research, I promise you. So worth it.
“Those people gave in to their pain because they couldn’t find purpose—their torture was meaningless, and when you can’t find reason in life, you tend to give up on it.” —Saolin
P: This is so true, and I’ll harp on it as much as I need to in order to get the point across. Though obviously not in this particular paragraph.
Raoden would have to do a great deal of rebuilding…. Assuming of course that he survived long enough. The casual thought brought a sudden awareness of his pains. They were with him as always, burning his flesh and eating at his resolve. He no longer counted them, though each one had its own feeling—an unformed name, a sense of individual agony.
Or maybe his pain wasn’t stronger. Maybe he was just weaker than the others. Either way, he wouldn’t be able to endure much longer. A day would soon come, in a month or maybe two, when he would not awaken from his pain […] he could finally give full devotion to his jealous agony.
….He tried to let the work distract him, and it helped a little. However, the pain still lurked within, like a beast hiding in the shadows, its red eyes watching with intense hunger.
P: I found this passage to be extremely interesting. I often refer to my demons, and anyone who knows me will recall at least some mention of them, or of monsters. I’d quote song lyrics here about my monsters being real, if I thought I could get away with it as I do on my Facebook feed.
The description here is striking and so easy to relate to because those individual agonies, those compounded pains burning Raoden’s flesh, truly are like a beast hiding in the shadows. Just as mental agonies are like demons and monsters in my head, whispering their lies which are far too easy to believe. Far too easy to believe without a solid support system, without medication, without therapy, without coping mechanisms, without purpose, without hope. These are the things that defeat the monsters, friends. Use them. Fight. FIGHT.
“No matter what else happened, Raoden always spent a few hours each day drawing his Aons. It comforted him—he felt the pain less when he was drawing Aons…”
P: This is me, with my writing. If I know that I can play around in an imaginary world where I’m not in constant pain, it can reduce that pain, or at least provide some temporary escape.
This is me with work, with competitions, with helping friends through their own issues, with anything and everything I can find to distract me from the darkness that tries on the daily to consume me. It comforts me. It helps me to feel the pain less. Embrace whatever beloved pursuit you can turn to which results in comfort and less pain.
“We put him in,” Raoden guessed, kneeling to lower the Elantrian into the pool. The man floated for a moment in the vivid sapphire water, then released a blissful sigh. The sound opened a longing within Raoden, an intense desire to be free of his pains both physical and mental.
P: In an interesting turn of events, Raoden and Company discover a Hoed who was Elantrian before the Reod ruined the magic and rendered those taken by the Shaod little more than the living dead (when they used to be like gods, pre-Reod). The man, who is in unimaginable pain after ten years of compounded injuries and feelings of failure (the Elantrians suffer mental wounds, as well, of course), convinces Raoden to end his pain. He directs Raoden, Galladon, and Karata to a pool, outside the walls of the city and up a mountain (can’t be easy, can it?). When he is placed in the pool, he feels relief as he is able to let go of his pain, and he just … disappears. The effect on Raoden is immediate:
The pain screamed; his body shook as if it knew how close it was to relief. All he had to do was fall…. Raoden stood, stumbling as he backed away from the beckoning pool. He wasn’t ready. He wouldn’t be ready until the pain ruled him—as long as he had will left, he would struggle.
P: Once Raoden finds a way to escape his pain, he realizes that he’s not ready to do so, not yet. He has more to do, he feels that he can handle more pain. He still has the will to fight. And that can make all the difference. Not giving up, taking that all-important next step, much like Dalinar Kholin in The Stormlight Archive. Finding that next goal to reach for, that next vital task, like Kaladin Stormblessed. Keep *ahem* going.
Part 2: The Call of Elantris
Raoden’s own longings warned him how dangerous the pool was. There was a part of him that wanted to seek out its deadly embrace, the refreshment of destruction. If the people knew that there was an easy, painless way to escape the suffering, many would take it without deliberation….
Letting them do so was an option, of course. What right had he to keep the others from their peace?
P: Raoden learns of an escape for Elantrians in unutterable pain, and ponders the question of “keeping them from their peace.” He never does tell anyone else of the pool, besides his closest friends. What he does do is make those friends promise to take him there once he succumbs to his pains and becomes Hoed. But he wants everyone else to keep fighting, to keep trying, to keep living.
“The pain swelled with each passing day. It drew strength from the Dor, bringing him a little closer to submission with its every assault. Fortunately, he had the books to distract him.”
P: Distraction! It works, people! I’ll say it again: do the healthy distracting things.
“The pain had grown. Sometimes it struck with such ferocity that Raoden collapsed, struggling against the agony. It was still manageable, if only barely, but it was growing worse.”
P: Even in the midst of good days, good weeks, good months, there is the fear that the pain will return with reinforcements. And if you suffer from bipolar depression, than you can be assured that it will. But remember that it’s still manageable. Somehow.
Reach out to friends or family (trust me, I know how hard this is to do, but it’s important to suck it up and do it, they’re not mind readers). Find a goal. That’s my thing, goals. I find a purpose, a point in the future that I want to reach, such as my granddaughter’s first birthday. Such as my daughter’s twenty-fifth birthday. Such as the Starsight release in November. Such as JordanCon (is it April, yet?). Find a worthy distraction, as I’ve done with my writing. Survive.
“It burst free like a beast that had been kept trapped in a small space for far too long. It almost seemed … joyful.”
P: Remember the monsters. Slay those damn things. Slay them. It’s possible. I promise. They may come back but you know what you do then? Slay them again.
Part 3: The Spirit of Elantris
“Each wound stung sharply, never deadening, never weakening.”
“The soul that was Raoden crumpled beneath their combined weight, giving a final sigh of resignation. After that, there was no longer pain, for there was no longer self. There was nothing.”
P: What I love about this is that Raoden thinks there is nothing. But even in his despair and his surrender to his pain, he is still going over his problem in his mind. His mystery that he’s spent the entire book trying to figure out: what happened to the magic during the Reod, that cataclysmic event that caused the downfall of Elantris and its gods? He’s still chewing on that, so has he really given up? Is there really nothing left?
Spoiler alert: No. He hasn’t. And, no, there’s not.
Come, it said, I give you release….
Come, it pled. You can finally give up.
No, Raoden thought. Not yet.
P: This is where I’ll leave you: with the moment that Raoden, in the sapphire pool, has the opportunity to gain the ultimate release from his ever-increasing and undeniable pain. Yet he doesn’t do it. He decides to go on, because he’s discovered something to help the other Elantrians, something to fix their broken magic. And he thinks, not yet…he’s not ready to go. Raoden won’t surrender his pain. Instead, he takes the next step; as would Dalinar, and other Sanderson characters who refuse to give up. And then he takes the next.
As will I. As will you, my friend.
Paige and Ross: And so we come to the end of yet another discussion on mental illness—both in real life and how it’s reflected the works of Brandon Sanderson. In discussing our thoughts and experiences, we hope that we were able to stress the importance of distractions and coping mechanisms, of knowledge and of hope.
Collected together to make them easier to find, here are those important links (mentioned above) again:
In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or chat by visiting the Suicide Prevention Lifeline Chat.
Also, please feel free to reach out to Paige if you need to talk, about this article or the previous discussion, about anything. She’ll encourage you to seek professional help, if you aren’t already doing so, or to do the same for your loved one, but she’ll happily listen to anything you want to chat about. Her Facebook profile is included in her Tor profile. And she’s serious about pinging her to chat. She likes to chat.
Thanks for sticking with us through this discussion—we know it can be tough, but keep your chin up and keep on fighting.
Paige resides in New Mexico, of course, and writes to stay sane. No, really. She’s fully into baseball fangirl mode as she roots on her New York Yankees in the postseason. Don’t judge. Links to her work are provided in her profile.
Ross lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and two sons. He engineers software in the daytime and writes in the nighttime and occasionally plays some guitar.