Author Helen Cleary Escott shares the dark, yet touching, motivation behind her latest creation, Operation Wormwood
Helen Cleary Escott is known for her Blog I’m Funny Like That. Later turned into a book of the same name, Escott seemed to take her light-hearted thoughts on the mundane and captured them to the delight of readers in search of a chuckle.
But, as the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover.
Looks Can Be Deceiving
Escott, who is open about suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) says the motivation behind her early musings is actually not that comical or light. “It’s not unusual for someone suffering from PTSD, or any mental disorder, to portray a very happy, successful life,” she begins. Social media portrayals are often not what they appear, she continues. “No one goes on and says; I’m having a really bad day and my flashbacks are severe and I was up all night with nightmares. What you see is; Oh, what a beautiful day. Here’s a picture of a flower. That’s how people with PTSD handle things in life in general. Everything looks great, but it isn’t.”
Escott sadly knows this all too well. “When you look at all the suicides in military and policing, it’s tragic. I’ve had seven people I worked with commit suicide. Who else can say that in their profession? All appeared to have been living wonderful lives,” she shared.
I’m Funny Like That helped her cope with the dark moments. “It was my way of dealing with stress. I couldn’t be on drugs, or I felt I couldn’t. I was a mother. I was raising children so I couldn’t be sedated, I had to be alert for my job and for my family, so I needed an outlet. Writing was that outlet.”
Escott began penning a funny story for her blog and would follow it up by working on her latest book, Flanker’s Operation Wormwood, a very unfunny crime thriller that often had her going to a very dark place.
What has the reaction been now that the book is out? All positive, she shares.
“People are thanking me for writing this book, because it’s the one thing people don’t want to talk about. You get celebrities coming here going out on ice flows to save the seals pups, but you ask a celebrity to be the face of the sexual abuse of children and they’ll be, oh no! I don’t want to touch that.”
Ten years ago Escott was a Senior Communication Strategist for the RCMP. “It was my job to read what was called Advanced Reports, which was a synopsis of an investigation, and decide if there would be media or what communications would be attached to it. There was one particular file involving the death of a child and it was particularly brutal and in retrospect it broke my brain,” she says matter-of-factly.
It was the beginning of Escott’s PTSD.Her own daughter was two-years-old at the time, the same age the child in her report had been.
“I just couldn’t fathom how someone could do this. There was a time, once a month we might get a sexual assault on a child, then it became once a week, then it becomes once a day, then it becomes two-to-three times a day. It was constantly there. When you have small children you can’t help but get more protective and even more paranoid.”
Escott started seeing a psychologist who said; you need to write this stuff down. She did. When she retired, she put the files aside. She picked them back up one day and realized there was something there. But it wasn’t easy.
“I thought, do I really want to go through this again? But I said to myself, this is a book. And I started and it was like the book wanted to be written. There would be times I would be up all night. I knew it needed to be written.”
‘This is Justice’
The reaction has been all positive. “One person approached me. They said they were a victim of a pedophile. They bought my book and read it, then they sent it to their abuser saying, read it. This is justice. You can’t get a better review than that.”
Escott explains that she faced a challenging dilemma. “I am a Christian and I believe in God and I go to church every week … and I would sit there on Saturday Mass and we would be praising God and then Monday morning I’d be sitting at my desk reading these Advanced Reports that proved there was no God, because these children were being abused. How would God allow this? So I was in a religious dilemma of, why do evil against the most vulnerable people in our society go unpunished by this loving all powerful God? Why doesn’t he do something to protect the children? Because in the Bible He says; bring the children to me. Well, they brought the children to you and look at the sex abuse scandals.”
Even though the topic is dark, this is not an anti-religious book, she says. “With this book, I said; I really want to give vengeance to these victims. I really wanted to create paranoia among the pedophiles and I wanted to write a book that would give closure to victims and I wanted to put the fear of God into people who abuse children. If they read this book they would think twice about doing it. My hope of course, is that this book could stop the sexual torture of children.”
So, what’s next? There’s more books in this series. One a year, if Cleary’s creative process accommodates. There’s also movie buzz, something that thrills the author. “Everyone who read it are asking for a movie. At the book launch there was over 100 people, many I didn’t know. People said they heard about it on NTV, from Toni Marie (Wiseman). I was signing for two hours, and people were saying, this is a movie.”
Cleary says she hopes they are right. “When I was writing the book I knew it would be special. The book wanted to be written. To me, it’s like a St. John’s Da Vinci Code.”
For more visit www.flankerpress.com