Waxhaw Author Writes Mystery Novel About Mental Health

Author Ellen West

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WAXHAW, NC – Ellen West has been published in several local magazines and invited as a guest speaker at the Champion Forest Book Club.  Recently, however, she looked to expand her canvas of storytelling into book form.  Her new novel, A Dark Turn of the Mind, has already received stunning reviews.  One reader likened it to a Sherlock Holmes mystery with cliff hangers that leave you guessing and turning the pages for more.

The novel follows Sally Jane Riley, a librarian who is challenged by symptoms of schizoaffective disorder.  She is caught in between dreams of a mysterious centuries-old murder and a tentative belief in the paranormal.  Throughout the novel, Sally searches for answers to the question:  “Do her dreams hold the secret to solving a century-old murder, or is she descending further into the madness of her disease?”

“I wanted to write a main character who has a mental illness,” Ellen said.  Ending the stigma around this topic is a driving motivator behind writing the novel.  Although the main character, Sally Jane Riley, is diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, she is able to live a full life while happening upon an unsolved murder.  In the story, Sally can be seen reaching out for help and support when she needs it.  And she’s not ashamed.  Creating this open dialogue around mental health within the story is meant to inform the reader that asking for help is the best thing a person can do.  It’s the first step in the right direction.  “Many people are battling these conditions alone,” Ellen stated.  She hopes that Sally’s strength inspires readers.

Growing up, Ellen loved mysteries.  Even today, she enjoys television series about solving crimes such as Midsomer Murders and the Agatha Christie mysteries.  A Dark Turn of Mind also interweaves the history of Waxhaw, which locals will enjoy and recognize.  As a writer, Ellen is confident in the setting as she moved to Waxhaw nearly six years ago.  “I thought the town would be a great backdrop,” she said.

Ellen is planning on having a book signing at Provisions in Waxhaw.  She will be releasing a sequel with Sally as the main character and a children’s book this summer.

In her spare time, Ellen teaches yoga and meditation, practices known for improving mindfulness and one’s body awareness.  Her studio, Peace, Art and Yoga, also involves Reiki, a Japanese form of alternative medicine called energy healing.  These practices help with managing symptoms such as anxiety and depression.  One class for children is called Yoga Tales, where youth read stories and practice yoga and guided meditation.  She also offers Zoom classes.  Ellen can be contacted concerning her yoga practice at peaceartandyoganc@gmail.com.

If you are concerned for you mental health well-being, don’t hesitate to reach out to a physician or therapist for answers and the next best steps to take.

If you have questions about future book signings, please reach out to Ellen at Ellenwest2016@gmail.com.  She can also be followed on Instagram @authorellenwest.

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Brodie Lowe
Brodie was awarded the Elizabeth Boatwright Coker Fellowship in Fiction. He was a finalist of The Broad River Review's Ron Rash Award in Fiction and Still: The Journal's Literary Contest in Fiction. His stories have appeared in The Broad River Review, Mystery Tribune, The Bark Magazine, Eastern Iowa Review, The Mark Literary Review, The Windhover, and elsewhere.