Greg Bauder has written and published two novels, The Temptress Ariel (Publish America, 2004) and Selene's Guiding Light (Publish America, 2005), both of which explore life from the point of view of a schizophrenic man.
Currently, Bauder is working on a third novel.
In a recent interview, he spoke about some of the factors that compelled him to start writing.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
I started writing in college but I didn't publish until I was in my early 40's. I'm 51 now.
There was a hiatus when I became schizophrenic for about 20 years between leaving college and finishing my BA in English. It took 20 years to recover from my illness.
I wanted to become a writer to help erase the stigma of schizophrenia so I took Creative Writing courses at the University of British Columbia. I had some wonderful professors there and the students were supportive and we learned a lot from each other's feedback. I found the UBC staff and students friendly and they encouraged me to publish.
I began writing diligently and it wasn't long before I published in literary magazines as well as pagan ones.
How would you describe your writing?
Most of my writings deal with schizophrenia and I have a very direct style although some of my metaphors are mystical. I write about spirituality and try to understand where mysticism and schizophrenia meet.
My audience is anyone interested in learning that schizophrenic people are not a threat but people longing for love, hope and acceptance.
I also write about eclectic ideas which have helped me out of delusions and despair. I think dogmatic religious views are unhealthy for people.
Who would you say has influenced you the most?
Writers like Milton, William Blake and Margaret Atwood have influenced me a lot but my style is probably closer to Kafka's. Albeit on a much smaller scale.
Schizophrenia has influenced the direction of my writing because I have been ill for 30 years. But, I have musical heroes like The Who, Pete Townshend in particular, who said:" Sickness will surely take the mind where minds can't usually go." He, too, believes in trying to comprehend mystical ideas, make the world more just and he has written a lot about mental illness.
Medications for my illness have also allowed me to cope as well as doctors and nurses who helped me with therapy. And, of course, the love from my family.
What are your main concerns as a writer?
My main concerns about being a writer is to be honest and show the pain as well as the triumphs in life.
Everyone hurts and the person with schizophrenia suffers a great deal due to stigma so I try to portray the illness in a way people can relate to. I deal with my illness by being an advocate for understanding of mental illnesses.
The biggest challenges I face are socializing instead of isolating and simply leading a healthy lifestyle. It is difficult to confront the challenges of schizophrenia so I focus on writing and maintaining relationships.
Do you write everyday?
I write most days usually when I have spare time. I also like going to different websites but I usually don't write after midnight.
My latest book, Selene's Guiding Light, took about four months to write and it is about a fantasy world loosely based on my own schizophrenic symptoms as well as mysticism. It was published by Publish America who were so supportive of my first novel I was glad to publish with them again.
What were some of the challenges you faced when you were working on the book?
The most difficult part of my second book was creating a poetic prose style and keeping the metaphors from becoming too obscure. There are also many mythological references which may be a little too much for some readers.
I enjoyed using a lot of freedom in my second book since it was a fantasy work. The main character was a man like myself, searching for identity, love and discernment. I had a lot of fun writing about mystical ideas as well as some political satire.
This book is about the delusional, mystical dilemma of schizophrenia. It is similar to The Temptress Ariel because they both deal with schizophrenia.
What will your next book be about?
My next book will combine similar ideas from the first two but will have a lot more humor. Again, it will touch on schizophrenia. It will also contain experimental styles.
What would you say has been your greatest achievement?
My main success as a writer to me was getting my first novel published.
How did you get there?
I published these books through hard work. Lots of reading and writing and perseverance.