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London, United Kingdom
Holly Searle is a writer who was born in Westminster in the middle of London. She shares her birthday with Jarvis Cocker and David Seaman and like Jarvis Cocker she wears glasses but has nothing whatsoever in common with David Seaman. She is fascinated by words, people and their stories, and regularly spends hours fantasising about being offered a weekly column. She has a degree in Film and Television which she gained from Brunel University in 1997. She has been blessed with two quite remarkable children whom she adores. She enjoys the company of her friends and the circus that is life. Long Walk to Forever by Kurt Vonnegut is her favourite short story. She is the author of the published children's tale The Story of Balan Singh, and is currently working on her first book.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Default Setting review and Interview with Will Green: When Mister or Misses Hyde Takes Over By Holly Searle


Good grief, modernity is a hard place to exist within isn't it?

Isn't it?

It absolutely is my friends.

Everything is so fast and full on and furious, with endless necessities that we don't actually need being forced upon us on a daily basis, coupled with a myriad of demands that we can't hope to forged a healthy relationship with, in addition to a photographic hail storm of images of ideals that we cannot realistically emulate. That it is no wonder that one in four of us ends up with some form of psychological baggage or mental health issue, that has us all seeking out some form of sensual or physical obliteration via self harm, drugs or alcohol in order to enable us to formulate coping mechanisms to block it all out.

Yes modern life can be pretty tough on those who are more sensitive to its expectations, or ill equipped to deal with it all than those who are more robust.

It's hard to know why some of us are more sensitive and inclined to climb into a little box and lock ourselves away from it all when Mister or Misses Hyde takes over.

Is it nature? Or is it nurture? Or is it just both?

Maybe some of us are just better equipped to cope with life whilst some of us possess mental tectonic plates that are prone to shift and create a minor internal quake when life rubs them the wrong way.

For some of us, when we are propelled into an alternative state, usually due to a trigger. This trigger creates an imbalance that changes all that we know and our lives begin to rapidly spiral out of control, until we either become aware of what is happening and ask for help, or we are fortunate enough to be given it.

In his exceptional account of the immediate downfall and the cause and effect of his character Edward Staten's loss of his reality as he is plunged into the darkness of his own mental illness and ensuing breakdown, Will Green's comprehensive book Default Setting: A Nervous Breakdown, examines the grim but honest internal reality of the experience of suffering encountered by those of us who are more at risk from mental illness.

It's a roller coaster ride from the opening sentence until the last, that carries the reader along at a breakneck speed wincing all the way as Edward descends from a fully functioning human into life's gutter via a succession of events that although he is aware of, he has no control over.

It is both heartbreaking, intense and well observed. And offers the reader an insight into the vulnerability of those who are more sensitive and therefore more likely to access the dark-side of life and why.

For those who may wish to understand how this is possible, or for those who may have had first hand experience with a partner, family member or a friend who may have encountered mental health issues, I would urge you to access this book.

The book left me reeling with questions for Will which he was gracious enough to answer.



Interview for Pandora’s Box with Will Green, author of Default Setting: A Nervous Breakdown




Was the book based on your own experiences? Is it an autobiographical account?

Default Setting was based on my own experiences but I would stop short of calling it an autobiographical account. It is a fictionalised version of a very dark period of my life. I mean every emotion in Default Setting is real. I felt all the pain, hurt, self-loathing and depression that is documented within it on a daily basis, and I did have the problems with alcohol, drugs, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. So, from that point of view it is a pretty accurate account. In my opinion, in would be a monumental task to write credibly from a first person perspective about the internal workings of such a mind without having experienced it personally.
Story-wise, I have taken the liberty of altering certain aspects in a bid to make it flow better and be more readable, although, I hasten to add that the overwhelming majority of events were true, or at least based on truth.

Did you find writing it a cathartic experience or an uncomfortable one?


I found writing to be cathartic. In fact, it was suggested to me as a form of therapy by a psychiatrist I was seeing. It became something I did to help process what I was feeling. It helped me detach myself from what I was experiencing. To me, there was a real sense that if I could actually make something good out of what happened it would make sense of all of it.
The uncomfortable experience of the writing process was letting people read it. Making it available on-line at Amazon, Kobe, Google Play and i-tunes was a huge step for me. It felt like I was coming out, but I have to say the response has been overwhelmingly positive so far.

Do you think we all struggle with our demons?


I was very much aware of the statistic that 1 in 4 people suffer from some form of mental health problem but since releasing Default Setting I have had people writing to me to say they can relate to my writing and what I was saying with their own experiences. These are people that come across as being successful, confident and content. It showed me that mental health touches so many lives. It was naivety on my part to think I was separate and alone with this. So I think, to some extent, almost all people struggle with their own demons. How they manifest themselves, and how we react to them and deal with them is obviously personal to that individual but I do believe it is a common problem which is why I am so pleased that celebrities are speaking out about it and #TimeToTalk recently was trending on Twitter. I believe the first steps to providing adequate support to those with such issues is to de-stigmatise mental illness which will encourage more people to seek help.

Is mental health a direct result of the pressures that society places on us or we place on ourselves in society?


Based on my own personal experiences, there are certainly societal contributory factors, but it is more complicated than one or the other. I think the two are intrinsically linked. It’s kind of a chicken and egg situation. I believe that some people are more naturally susceptible to mental health problems than others and this can be exacerbated by external pressures. I mean, you just need to look at the issue of body image and what the media portray as beauty. That has a massive effect on what people deem as acceptable and what they “should” look like. For certain individuals, this perceived failure and lack of adequate coping techniques can lead to low self-esteem, self-loathing and a downward spiral into depression. However, it is by no means clear that it is the definitive root cause of mental health issues as there are certain biological influences at work.

Did you consider making Jess more vocal in the story to flesh out Edward’s history or was it always to be about him and his ongoing addictions?

Default Setting started life as a notebook for me to simply write as a way to express what I was feeling. There was really no plan to make a novel of it until a lot later on. I literally wrote about what was going on with me during a period of my life following a particularly messy and painful break-up. There was no reason for me to write about her as she was no longer in my life. All the experiences of the Jess character (except for one phone call) are in Edward’s head. They were him trying to make sense of everything that was happening, get through and cope. It is written in a stream-of-consciousness style. It wasn’t an active decision to write that way it was just what worked for me at that particular time and that approach left little need for her to feature much. I guess I could have made her more vocal but the simple fact was that, in real life, she wasn’t. She was just gone.


About the Author


Will Green lives in London, which is the backdrop for his d├ębut novel Default Setting. With 1 in 4 people suffering from some kind of mental health problem and suicide remaining the biggest killer of men under 50, this work of contemporary fiction, based on his own experiences, is both relevant and topical. It is available through a distribution deal with Help For Writers as a download for £2.99 on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Kobo. Will has committed to making a donation to a mental health charity from some of the profits made on the sale of the book. You can follow Will on Twitter @WillGreenAuthor

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