Inspiration for On the Ashes of Riverside

This is the hospital that inspired Riverside. Originally, it was known as East Tennessee Hospital for the insane, and was then renamed Eastern State Hospital. Eventually, the hospital was renamed as Lakeshore Mental Health Institute. It was closed within the past couple of years, a decision that was met with a lot of resentment among the mental health community here in the area.

One point of pride is that Lakeshore was among the first institutions in the nation to house minors in a separate facility, though this only came about sometime in 1972 or 1973.

The postcard below came from a news story that was done by a local news channel back when Lakeshore was closed down.

East Tennessee Hospital for the Insane, later Eastern State Hospital, then Lakeshore.

East Tennessee Hospital for the Insane, later Eastern State Hospital, then Lakeshore.

Most of the buildings have since been torn down. Acutally, the wings that can be seen in the postcard were torn down in the late 70s when all of the reforms were being done, as they were beyond repair, and a fire hazard, to boot. The main administration building, the larger of the buildings on the left, has been left standing.

There’s not really a lot of information avaliable about Lakeshore, and even then, it’s hard to discern what is truth, and what is just rumors and speculation. Most people didn’t know what was going on at the facility while it was in use, and most people were quite content to keep it that way.

The photo on the right comes from the University of Tennessee Library’s Special Collections, courtesy of WBIR.com. It’s the only image I’ve ever seen of the original Kirkbride Plan building. Most people born in the past few decades would never recognize that beautiful building as the Lakeshore hospital they’ve heard the awful stories about.

I always think that it’s interesting to see what has inspired the ideas behind stories, so I just thought I would share this. Also, I feel that it’s just a very interesting subject, along with an important part of the history of the area, but that’s just me!

NaNo2014 Excerpt

So I have no idea when I’m going to get back to working on my novel. Finals have now started, and it’s hectic. I just finished up two essays, and right now I’m in the middle of editing a video for French that we spent all day yesterday filming down on campus. But I am pretty convinced that I will go back to working on it at some point, maybe once the semester is officially over.

However, I do want to post a few bits and pieces of it on here. And this is one of those parts. This is from somewhere around chapter… five? I think. I’m not sure. I’ve cut a few pieces to edit so that they can be put up here. This was kind of a tedious scene to write. I had a very specific image in my head when I was thinking about what I wanted the building to look like, but conveying that idea,in a way that made sense to someone other than myself, was a bit of a challenge. For this post, I’ve decided to add a couple of pictures that are a bit in line with the image I wanted.

The hospital in the story, Riverside, is based loosely on a real-life psychiatric facility here in East Tennessee, that suffered from a slew of problems, well into the 1970s, when the conditions were exposed and sweeping reforms were enacted. The facility shut down within the past couple of years.

Also, the Kirkbride Plan was indeed a real thing. While the idea that a building can greatly influence a patient’s health fell

Images from Thomas Kirkbride's 'On the Construction, Organization, and General Arrangements of Hospitals for the Insane' The design shows the idea of the "staggered wing" design.

Images from Thomas Kirkbride’s ‘On the Construction, Organization, and General Arrangements of Hospitals for the Insane’
The design shows the idea of the “staggered wing” design.

out of favor in the early 1900s, the idea was part of a larger movement known as “moral therapy”, which was a huge leap forward for the field of mental health. The buildings were massive, built with several connected, staggered wings. They usually included several acres worth of grounds, as well.

The design feel out of favor in the mid to late 1890s, due to the massive expense of building and maintaining the facilities. Construction on one of the last Kirkbride hospitals, Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center, in Regional Falls, Minnesota was begun in the mid 1880s, and completed in 1912.

Other notable Kirkbride hospitals include Danvers State Hospital, in Danvers Massachusetts, Trans-Allegheny in Weston, West Virginia, and St. Elizabeth’s in Washington, D.C.

Okay, I think that’s all I want to say as far as background things go. Here’s the first excerpt from my NaNo2014 work, On the Ashes of Riverside.

———–

Kenna couldn’t help but smile at Nanook’s exuberance when he saw her. She loved dogs; it didn’t matter if you’d been gone five minutes or five hours, they were always so honestly excited when you came back. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Bagheera slinking out of the laundry room where he’d likely been sleeping on top of the dryer. He headed into the kitchen, clearly anticipating food.

“And there’s the difference between a cat and a dog,” she grumbled to herself. She dropped her things and went to pour food into the cat’s bowl, then grabbed Nanook’s leash from its place by the door. After an enthusiastic struggle, where the dog was far more hindrance than help, Kenna snapped the leash on and headed back out into the hallway to take him outside.

The outside grounds of the complex had been neatly sculpted, a smaller version of what they might have been when the

Trans-Allegheny in Weston, West Virginia

Trans-Allegheny in Weston, West Virginia. A large inspiration for the design of Riverside.

original hospital had been built. The grounds had originally included several acres of farmland that patients had helped work, but the state had sold off much of that land in the years after the hospital closed.

As Nanook wandered and turned in circles with his leash at full extension, Kenna took a moment to truly observe the building. She could only imagine what it must have looked like at one time. She’d seen an old post card in an online article, sometime back around when the development plans had been announced, but it had only been a close up of one of the complexes many buildings.

The original hospital building had been massive, as most of the state asylums had been at the time, built in the gothic revival style, similar to other more famous asylums of the time. The hospital building looked appropriately intimidating, though at the same time, there was no denying that it was a stunning piece of architecture. Kenna estimated that the staggered wings of the hospital could, in total, span at least two average city blocks. The length, combined with four floors of dark limestone and granite, completed the imposing look of the structure. Great care had obviously been taken during

Traverse City State Hospital. Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City State Hospital. Traverse City, Michigan. Now converted to apartments. 

the restoration effort, and none of the new additions seemed out of place. Even the balconies, most certainly not original to the building, had been designed to look as though they had been there as long as the structure itself.

“Kenna?!”

Startled, Kenna jerked forward and accidently tugged on Nanook’s leash, earning herself the type of whine only an unhappy husky could produce. She apologized and shushed him with a treat she’d brought out, then turned.

Adrian was standing out, huddled in a black hoody, while Geist raced from tree to tree and flower to flower, leaving nothing uninvestigated.

“Sorry,” he told her as he approached her. “I’d been calling to you for a minute, but you didn’t seem to hear me.” Even in the dim light, his expression held a hint of concern.

“Yeah, sorry. I was just thinking.”

“You were staring at the building like it was the most fascinating thing you’ve seen all day,” he commented. Geist tried to make a run for a passing squirrel and Adrian reeled him back in.

“It might be,” she told him evenly, “It’s been a long day.”

His concern melted into amusement at that.

“Anyway,” she continued, her eyes back on the building, “I was just thinking what this place might have looked like when it was first opened. I’ve never really seen any decent pictures or paintings or anything.”

“My guess is it looked terrifying,” Adrian muttered. Kenna glanced over at him. He was staring up at the building, as though trying to imagine it as it would have been over a century ago.

“But would it have been?” She asked. She gave him an even look when he turned a curious expression on her. “These places, the asylums that were built on the Kirkbride Plan like Riverside, they were meant to be different than what places had been in the past. They weren’t meant to be prisons. They were meant to—“

“To promote wellbeing and healing,” Adrian finished for her with a touch of impatience. Kenna nearly asked him how a vet student would remember what had likely been a throwaway topic from an introductory psych course, when she remembered who he was related to.

“Well they were,” she finished. She crossed her arms over her chest, mindful of the leash still in her hand, and pretended she didn’t look as petulant as she did.

“I didn’t mean anything by it,” Adrian assured her, “But it wound up being a prison anyway, didn’t it? In the end, that’s why it was shut down.”

“In the end, they all were. There aren’t places like this anymore, and for good reason,” Kenna admitted, “They don’t lock people away anymore, no matter how “good” their intentions are.”

“It almost sounds like it makes you angry,” Adrian observed, his tone carefully casual. For a brief moment, Kenna spared a thought to wonder what kind of conversations Adrian had been privy too, growing up in close quarters with someone like Dr. Hayes. Then, she turned her attention back to the building. Though the side they were looking at faced the river, it was technically the back of the building.

“What’s done is done,” she told him, her eyes focused on the window balcony she knew led into her own bedroom. “Horrible, awful things were done in places like this, and there’s no way to change that, but now those of us who are studying and working in the field today have to face stigma and suspicion because of what people did here decades ago. It makes things feel like a constant uphill battle, and I’ve only seen it as a student. A lot of people look at psychology and psychologists with distrust because of what they now know went on behind these walls.”

When she was finished, they both stood in silence for a moment, both thinking about what she had just said.

“I remember being afraid of this place when I was little,” Adrian told her finally. “My grandfather would tell me every time that I was being ridiculous but… just to look at it.”

He trailed off and shook his head. Briefly, Kenna thought back to something Cade had said when she mentioned where she would be moving to.

“You can see the ghosts wandering the halls just thinking about it.”

Adrian nodded.

“Yeah, you’re right.”

“Wasn’t me that said it,” Kenna informed him, “It was Cade –Dr. Evans. One of the clinicians in the psych department.”

“I know who that is; I’ve met him. He taught my intro class. Only psych course I took. If I remember him correctly, he’s not someone I’d expect to say something like that.”

“Cade says a lot of unexpected things,” Kenna assured him. After a moment, a thought occurred to Kenna.

“You said that you’ve lived her for a while before I moved in, right?” she asked, turning her attention away from the building and back to Adrian.

“Yeah. I moved in halfway through spring semester this year. That’s not something I recommend, by the way. Why?”

Kenna opened her mouth, then faltered, uncertain if there was a way to ask her question without sounding like she would have belonged in Riverside when it was a functioning hospital.

“Have… have you ever noticed the smell of smoke in the hallway or in any of the rooms?” she asked him finally. Silently, she prayed that he didn’t look at her like she was crazy.

“I have,” he responded simply, nodding his head. I’ve noticed it more than once, actually. I don’t spend any time in any of the other floors or wings, but I’ve definitely noticed it in ours before.”

“And here I thought I was losing my mind,” Kenna muttered.

“Only if I’m losing mine, too.” Adrian told her.

“The hospital was damaged in a fire,” Kenna mused, “just about a year or so before it finally closed down, a patient died in a fire here. No details about them were ever made public, as far as I know. If they were, they weren’t very obvious about it.”

“Yeah, I know. My grandfather said that the hospital liked to keep things pretty quiet in later years while he was here.”

Kenna was about to agree with him when she realized what he’d just said.

“Wait, what?” Kenna stared at him, uncertain if she had understood him correctly. “Did you just say that Dr. Hayes worked here? At Riverside?”

“Yes, he did. He never told you all about that?” Adrian looked surprised.

“He’s not exactly the most talkative person in the department,” Kenna reminded him. Now that she actually thought about it, it wasn’t particularly hard to imagine the aloof, detached Dr. Hayes working in a place like Riverside.

“Well, I figured that he might mention it on the first day of class when he introduced himself, or something. That’s kind of how a lot of professors do things, right?”

“All Dr. Hayes does on the first day of class is assure that, yes, you do need the text book, no, I don’t give extra credit, and yes, the final is cumulative and mandatory. Now get out something to take notes with.”

Adrian winced slightly at her summation of his grandfather, but didn’t contradict her.

They stood for another few minutes, Kenna processing this new information about Hayes, and Adrian watching her as though waiting for a response. It was only when Kenna started shivering faintly that he frowned slightly.

“C’mon,” he told her, nodding his head at the building, “let’s go in.”

————-

Fairly happy with it at the moment.

Cheers!

Mayuuya

NaNoWriMo 2014 Recap

Yeah, so, no updates through November. NaNo didn’t go exactly as I planned. To be honest, I lacked motivation throughout most of the month. My grandmother passed away early into the month. I was able to bounce back word count wise, but I never really got ahead the way that I would like to have. I was constantly struggling to meet par for the day. And then I got Dragon Age: Inquisition, and the month just went to hell. Bioware recaptured my heart with their companions, save for Sera and Vivienne, and I devoted more time to that than I did to writing. There was also the fact that these past two weeks of classes have been completely awful. Professors that haven’t wanted anything due all semester, and now they want everything turned in. Finals week. Go figure.

My final word count logged in at 41,705 words. So, not terrible. I have 120 pages, but that only came out to about seven chapters. I have twenty two chapters planned. That has never happened. Usually, my chapters are far shorter than average. I actually did a full outline for this novel, and I feel like that helped me, even if I didn’t meet the goal. I hope that, with this outline, I can go back to working on this story at a later date, because I did enjoy working on it. The characters originally came from another idea that I had been working on, Kenna and Reagan in particular, and it was fun to change them around in very different ways. Kenna became more self-conscious and hesitant, less carefree, and Reagan became more patient and easy-going, though their main roles (student and teacher, respectively) didn’t change.

Eventually, I hope to post various bits of the story itself on here. I’ll put up an excerpt either later tonight or tomorrow, and I’ll go on editing particular sections and post them as I get a chance. Exams start Thursday, then I have two more on Monday, but after that, I should have more time to work on things.

Even if I didn’t meet the goal this year, I still enjoyed writing and working on things other than something for a class. And that’s what it’s about. It’s why I love writing. Creating these characters that you give life to and come to care about. Giving them personalities and strengths and faults. I love the planning process and getting the chance to explore and express various ideas. I love there’s a community with over 300,000 people who feel the same way. 310,000+ people participated, and I hope every one of them enjoyed themselves and are proud of themselves for even participating, regardless of whether or not they won.

Cheers Everyone!

Mayuuya

The Countdown to NaNo is on

So, between class work, working, reading, and all of the other things I’ve been doing, I haven’t had much time to post anything on here.

Final countdown to NaNo is on. Wasn’t able to go to the regional kickoff party, since I was out of town, but I’m hoping to make several other of the events. I know there are bi-weekly write-ins on the campus, so I’m hoping to make a few of those, too. I’m trying out a new software this year: yWriter. I’ve seen lots of good reviews, and I’m still setting things up, but I like what I’ve seen so far. If I wind up not liking it, I can always go back to using Scrivener.

Haven’t really done anymore work on the novel itself, other than breaking things up into planned scenes and chapters to put into yWriter.

Finished reading Frankenstein for my upper level lit. class. I had actually never read it before, strangely enough. It wasn’t bad, although it’ll probably never be one of my favorite “classics”. It was certainly better than the first two, though since one of those was Paradise Lost, well… “dammed by faint praise” might be appropriate. Next up is Farenheit 451. If there was ever another book that could inspire my loathing on a level equal to Paradise Lost, it’s Farenheit 451. I hate this book. Though I also used to hate 1984, and now it’s a part of my blog’s background.

But, somehow, I don’t expect to love 451 anymore this time around than the first time.

However, I’m also reading another book on the side. It was recommended, oddly enough, by my mother. She read it several years ago, and was fairly surprised that I, a dedicated psychology student, wasn’t aware of it. It’s called When Rabbit Howls, and it isn’t for the faint of heart. I’m about a quarter of the way through it, and it’s one of the most fascinating things that I’ve ever read, especially for something that’s nonfiction. I’ll do a detailed Review/Recommendation when I finish, but, for those that aren’t familiar with it, the book is about a woman with Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly Multiple Personality Disroder or MPD). Her alters are known as the Troop Formation, and there are 92 identified alternates (other personalities).

The book is written from the perspective of the Troops, and deals with their awakening awareness of each other. As such, it’s a bit disjointed and can be hard to follow. It also deals with, in no sugarcoated way, about severe sexual and physical abuse of a young child (the abuse being the root cause of the DID), and is occasionally hard to read. However, even with all of that, I know that I’m going to be recommending the book once I finish it.

I also need to finish The Lucifer Effect. I’ve had that on my shelf for over a year now, and haven’t worked on it much.

So there’s how things have been. Good luck to eveyone prepping your NaNo projects! The countdown is on! Now, I have to go and study for a Social Psych exam.

Cheers!

Mayuuya

NaNoWriMo 2014 Summary- On the Ashes of Riverside

So the NaNo site has been reset, though I think all of the forum posts from last year are still up. (Does anyone know what’s going on there? Are they going to reset those too?

Anyway, I’ve already updated my author page on the site, and figured that I would go ahead and post the summary here, too.

Riverside State Psychiatric Hospital was once a promising institution. Proudly situated in a rise above the Tennessee river, the hospital was, for a time, a leader in the emerging field of mental health care, boasting the most up-to-date and advanced practices of the time. However, little more than two decades passed before the hospital’s decline began, and allegations of violence, patient abuse, and cruel treatments began to run rampant. In the summer of 1969, the hospital suffered a devastating blow. A fire destroyed the top three floors of the hospital’s main building. Several people suffered injuries, and a six-year-old patient died in the blaze. Though the fire was eventually ruled an accident, suspicions remained and, a year later,

This year's cover image.

This year’s cover image.

Riverside Hospital was closed down.

The hospital sat abandoned for decades. Rumors of ghosts and other strange sightings spread like wildfire.

In the spring of 2011, a private developer purchased the property. Plans were announced to repair and renovate the buildings and turn them into a modern apartment community. Riverside Plaza opened three years later.

Graduate student MacKenna Sheridan, the building’s newest resident, is thrilled to finally be moved into her new apartment.

But the past never stays hidden and Kenna’s excitement fades rapidly. Before long, odd things begin to happen. At first, they’re easily explained away: a flicker in the mirror and quiet whispering in the hallways. But things escalate quickly. The sounds of crying and screaming echo in the halls, the smell of smoke fills the air, and fire alarms sound with no obvious cause.

Unnerved by the increasingly common occurrences, and aware of the building’s troubled history, Kenna tries to shed light on the hospital’s troubled past. However, her search proves difficult; many records are sealed, and those involved have no interest in discussing the past. It seems the hospital wants to keep its secrets. But just how far did someone go to bury those secrets?

Will the hospital’s past finally be put to rest and its true tragedies exposed? Or will its secrets remain hidden, buried forever under the ashes of Riverside

I’m actually really excited this year. I’m hoping that I’ll not only be able to meet the word count goal, but actually finish the story itself, too. With the outline I’ve written, I hope that will happen.

Happy planning to all of this year’s NaNo participants! We’re in this together!

Cheers!

Mayuuya

Summarizing a Summary

Otherwise known as my complete inability to summarize.

Seriously. I can’t be the only one who has this problem. One year at a local NaNo meet-up, we were challenged to summaize our stories in two sentences.

Two sentences? Hahahaha- Oh, you were serious…

And then everyone else is sitting there writing away, and I’m just sitting there staring at my pen like ive never seen one before.

My summaries tend to be long. I try not to be wordy and redundant, but I love detailed summaries.  I love vivid descriptions (Flowery language if you want to be mean about it.).

Actually, I’m not sure where I picked that up either. My grandmother, where I picked up a lot of my language, mechanics, etc., did not like using it, and it always seemed to stun her that I did.  Though, like I said, I try not to be really tedious about it. Too vividly or too many details? It’s probably just unnecessary filler.

Two pages of the handwritten version of my outline. Yes, it's color coded.

Two pages of the handwritten version of my outline. Yes, it’s color coded.

Right now, I’ve already done 3 versions (two revisions) of the summary for this November’s project. I think I’m finally happy with it, but it’s still so LONG. Seriously. Of course, my “outline” is about 22 printed pages, but that was intentional.

I think my problem is that I don’t want anyone who reads my outline to have too many questions, at least questions other than, “oh, what’s going to happen? I want to read this.” I don’t make the mistake of telling everything that happens, that’s what the story is for, but I struggle with how much is enough. “Well, if I say this about this, will people understand what I’m talking about? Should I try to include a tiny bit of backstory about it?” And that’s where I create problems for myself.

Trying to figure out how to fix this is an ongoing thing for me. Finally, what I did this time was print out a copy if the original summary and just go through and slash through things. Words, phrases, and whole sentences got cut. However I did actually keep the revised, longer version. That one will go up on the Nano site once it resets and will become my “official” summary for the time being. The shorter will be posted on here on the side bar, underneath the cover. I’ll probably also include both in a post, or something. I’m kind of proud of the longer one.

Cheers!

Mayuuya