Once upon a time, there was a young woman who left home so fast, she didn’t even say goodbye. Eager to see the rest of the world, meet new people, and do new, exciting things, she forgot about her hobbies and passions, about the things that made her who she was. Determined to be a new person, she foolishly cast aside her own dreams and aspirations, and chased the newest relationship, the prettiest girl, the most charming boy. Over the years, she forgot who she was, and lost her way.
She spent so much time looking outwards, that she failed to see the darkness inside. Her spark was gone, life’s luster dull, the edges of reality alternating between painfully sharp and numbingly dull.
One such forgotten passion was writing. And while the loss of it pained her deeply, she found it again many years later, and it’s the reason she’s still here today.
Melodrama aside, writing did save my life. Writing got me through adolescence, through the stress of middle school, and the ennui and drama of high school. Then I was an adult, technically, and an ill-prepared one at that. I lost my muse in college, then for nearly a decade I forgot about the relief and healing to be found in creating fictional worlds and characters.
I suffer from depression. It tends to cycle, leaving me with long stretches of moderate contentment for months at a time, then things slip, and I’m lost in the dark, not even seeing how badly I’ve fallen apart, piece by piece. Apathy smothers my creativity, and I must be careful not to get too deep, or I may never write again. And that, there, would kill my soul faster than anything. Losing my ability to write, years now after finding it again, keeps me moving. Writing makes me feel alive. Makes me feel real, here, present and accounted for.
For nearly a decade I was stuck in a well-paying but soulless career working for Uncle Sam. Rules and restrictions and tests and training sucked the life from my soul. There was no peace at work, no expression nor creativity, and being an individual was counter-productive. Stifling and injurious, that job left me cantankerous and wretched. And when things got bad—I wrote, seriously, for the first time in years… And I haven’t stopped yet. And through writing, I found myself, who I used to be, and better yet, who I was meant to become.
Now that I am lucky enough to write full time, I keep myself going by giving myself what I need. And the easiest way I do that? I write what I want to read. Reading is an escape for me, an outlet in tough times, and writing even more so. Now, to give myself fulfillment and satisfaction, along with exercising my mind and avoiding the pitfalls in the darker side of my brain, I write. Daydreams and fantasies that were my mental self-soothing techniques are now bound in paper and ink, for others to enjoy and escape into. It is a level of surrealism that I am certain I will never grow accustomed.
Surviving myself means managing myself. Habits I develop that drop me into the Darkness are slowly chipped away, steadily replaced by managing techniques to counteract my triggers. Sleeping all day instead of getting up? That’s a sign of an episode coming on. My treatment? Read a brand-new book, and write a review if I liked it. Feeling closed off and alone? Help a fellow author by being an alpha reader. No inspiration? I binge-watch my favorite scifi show.
I have tons of techniques and habits that help me counteract my depression cycles. But the overall best treatment for depression? My writing. I love it. I need it. It gives me life and vitality and I feel passion. Sharing my words with the world is an honor and privilege, but purely creating? Just writing? That is what gives me life.
I think in some way all authors carry a bit of insanity inside ourselves. We must, to be so content and yet manic about the voices in our heads. We grow protective, nurturing—we encourage whole new personalities and voices to flourish in our minds, eventually spilling out of our hands and onto paper or screen. I’ve placed pieces of my own self into characters that are so outwardly different from myself that people are often confused when I am asked, “Which of your characters is you?”
My answer, always, shall be Angel Salvatore. The main character in my Beacon Hill Sorcerer series, Angel encompasses my sharp edges, my mental scars, the blunt, simple wit and scathing sarcasm. But I also feel he holds the greatest part of my heart—the empathic ache for another’s pain, the need to help someone without recompense, even the desire to put himself in harm’s way to protect loved ones carries shades of Me. Or perhaps, the pieces of me that I hope are prevalent. He is best described as the worst pieces of me, and the person I hope I can become.
Mental illnesses like depression manifest differently for many people, and so managing it can be just as varied. Contrary to popular expectation, I manage my depression by indulging the voices in my head. I give them life, anchoring them to the written page, and exorcise my demons as I do so. I garner satisfaction, comfort, joy and passion from writing, and that balances out the apathetic darkness that wells up from time to time.
The Necromancer’s Dance Blurb
In a world where magic is real and evil walks amongst humanity, a young sorcerer is beset upon by enemies, both old and new. Angelus Salvatore is the only necromancer in all of Boston, and his name is whispered warily by the undead and fellow sorcerers alike. He and his brother Isaac are the lone survivors of an attack by an army of the undead, in which Angel used a spell so powerful it forever marked his place in history. Now, years later, Angel struggles to balance his career as a teacher of the higher magical arts, his role as big brother, and a tenuous relationship with an Elder vampire from the local clan. When his brother’s boyfriend is used as a pawn in a mysterious plot to draw Angel out, Angel is once again drawn back into the old hostilities that fueled the Blood Wars and led to his family’s death.
Leaning on others for help is something Angel cannot do, and while he searches for clues into who may be targeting him and his brother, Angel finds his heart steadily growing occupied with Simeon, Elder and vampire. Dealing with death magic and vampires on a daily basis may leave Angel jaded when it comes to life and staying that way, but the more time he spends fending off the ancient vampire’s attention and affections, the more he realizes he wants to give in.
Can Angel find out who wants him dead, and keep his heart safe in the process? How can he fall for a vampire, when his whole family was torn apart by an army of the undead?
Death stalks the streets of Boston’s historic Beacon Hill….and there is no one more suited to battle against death than a necromancer.
Meet SJ Himes
SJ Himes writes gay romance and urban fantasy, and writes m/m erotica under her pen name, Revella Hawthorne. She’s a nomad, traveling around the Eastern and Southern USA, traveling with her beloved dog Micah and the books in her head. She’s currently stopped in New Orleans, enjoying the local history and food.
Author Website: www.sjhimes.com