Interview with Vicki Goldie
When I was lucky enough to be published by Victorina Press, I had not heard of Bibliodiversity. I now recognise what a good fit a series based on a blind protagonist is to that ethos.
It is said that you should write about what you know. I love the 1920s and am a huge fan of the ‘Golden Age of Detection’ mysteries. There have been the Max Carrados stories of Ernest Bramagh, from 1914, very Sherlock Holmes in style, and The Problemist by Clinton H Stagg in 1916. These authors tended to emphasise the special skills of their blind protagonists and I wondered what would it be like to present a WWI veteran blinded in the war? I had worked as a librarian at the RNIB school of Physiotherapy in the 1970s and met and communicated with veterans who had been blinded and retrained to be physiotherapists at the time by St Dunstan’s, now known as Blind Veterans UK.
I then set about doing my research. 1,833 servicemen were blinded as a result of the First World War, 95% of them lived at or were trained by St Dunstan’s. Blind Veterans UK have a fascinating timeline of their foundation. https://www.blindveterans.org.uk/about/our-history/timeline/.
Of course, being blinded under such circumstances had other mental effects. I already knew that many blind people suffered from depression but what of PTSD or what was known as shell shock? This was something that could not be admitted to and there were very few treatments available. In fact, it was positively frowned upon – that pervasive whisper of cowardice. It is estimated that 20,000 were still suffering from shell shock at the end of the war. In a shocking BBC Four programme, it is shown how a Pathe News film on cures for the condition were faked at The Royal Victoria Hospital in Hampshire. Luckily there were other more humane pioneers in treatment such as Major Arthur Hurst based in Devon.
I knew for many years that I wanted to try my hand at writing a mystery set in the Art Deco period. What interests me is the psychology behind the murder. Like blood dripping from a cut into a bowl of water, the effect of murder blossoms out with repercussions for all involved.
In addition, having a blind physiotherapist husband I wanted to investigate the treatment of blind people at that time and examine the still casual discrimination that relates to blind people today. It is still impossible to be served in a crowded bar!
Vicki Goldie Author of The Charters Mysteries Series.
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