Author Caleb James Interviews Psychiatrist to the fey, Dr. Redmond Fall

First published on the Alpha Book Club Blog


CJ:       Dr. Fall, I’d like to thank you for giving me this time, I know your clinical and academic responsibilities make you extraordinarily busy.

RF: My, pleasure, and call me Redmond.

CJ: Excellent, Caleb works for me. So let’s begin. As a psychiatrist with centuries of experience, tell us something about the most-common problems that affect us, from pixie to ogre, and what’s to be done about them.

RF: Fair enough, Caleb. You’d like to know about the meat and potatoes of my day job.

CJ: That’s a human expression. I understand you’re seeing one.

RF: That’s a line of enquiry for another day.

CJ: You’re smiling.

RF: Yes, and if we continue in this vein, I will blush. So back to the day job and all the things that can tip a fey’s kettle. To begin is the massive problem of fairy dust addiction.

CJ: Horrible stuff and so out of control. Dust heads will do anything for their next fix.

RF: It’s the insanity of addiction, it robs them of all morals and compassion. It’s often fatal, and only recently has a cure been found.

CJ: About that, I hear that it’s only offered here at your Center for Fey Development.

RF: Correct.

CJ: Tell me the substance of the cure.

RF: I can’t.

CJ: Hmm. Can’t or won’t, I smell a toad.

RF: I’m allowed my secrets and the contents of the dust cure are proprietary. But I offer it free and all in need are welcome.

CJ: You take nothing in return.

RF: Correct.

CJ: Then I suppose you’re entitled to the secret.

RF: Of course I am. So after dust, let’s see. I’d have to say the next big item, and many with dust addiction have both, is PTSD.

CJ: For the sake of my readers, please clarify what that stands for.

  1. Post Torture Sadness Disease. It’s a grossly unsatisfying title, but it gets to the heart of what happens to those who’ve endured horrific and traumatic events.

CJ: Please don’t speak her name.

RF: Exactly, ours is a society in need of healing. So many have suffered under the brutal heel of the prior regime. PTSD is the normal response that occurs and it comes with a myriad of symptoms from horrifying flashbacks and nightmares to pustular maggot-filled eruptions.

CJ: I’ve seen those, they’re disgusting. Tell us of the treatment.

RF: While I am a psychiatrist, I also practice surgery as so many of us do. And as any surgeon will tell you, “pus under pressure must be lanced.”

CJ: I’m thinking ick and let’s move on.

RF: As you wish, but while graphic, lancing and cleaning out that which festers below the surface is an apt metaphor for how to heal from PTSD. It’s not just the physical maggots, it’s the emotional ones, as well.

CJ: It makes sense, but perhaps leave us with something more useful. Myself, and quite a few of my readers, would love to know about the burgeoning field of travel medicine. I’d love to visit the human world, but…

RF: But you’re frightened of breaking. As you should be. This is where I need to leave the sternest of warnings for those considering the trip. Travel sickness is not to be taken lightly. If you are not protected, you will break, whether human or fey as you pass between the realms. The breakage is unpredictable, for many it’s their sanity. Creatures with magic abilities may find their wings clipped and their powers diminished or gone. At the risk of breaching patient confidentiality, I’m acquainted with one case, he also had severe PTSD. He landed in the realm of Manhattan with no clothes and only the barest of magics left to him. And let me tell you, prior to that trip he was a creature of tremendous and quite horrible power. He possessed the worst magic of all.

CJ: Okay, I’m intrigued. I know you can’t tell me his name. But I’d love to know what you consider the “worst magic of all.”

RF: Hmm. I suppose I can tell you that much. He had glamour so strong, that to just look in his eyes robbed man, ogre, pixie, or sprite of all reason. His magic was false love. And once under his sway, desire for him was stronger than any dust lust. He possessed a fatal beauty.

CJ: He sounds scary…and wonderful. I want the details.

RF: I cannot give them. But…

CJ: Do tell.

RF: His story has been written and is a wonderful read.

CJ: Tell me the book’s name. I seem to know something about this.

RF: Exile, Caleb. The book’s title is Exile.

CJ: Wait a minute… I wrote that book.

RF: Yes, Caleb. You did.

CJ: It’s about Queen May’s cat’s paw Liam Summer, with his beautiful lavender eyes and his vicious glamour. I did not remember…it’s not my first book either.

RF: No it’s not, Caleb. Now lay back on the couch and I’ll help you remember.

CJ: Tell me what’s wrong with me, doctor.

RF: You’ve been pixielated. Now close your eyes, count backwards from ten, and let’s see if we can’t undo what those tricky pixies have done. Ten, nine, eight…

Links to Exile

amazon link for Exile

Barnes and Noble link for Exile

DSP Publication link

Nimby 1


Uncommon Heroes

I’ve always written heroes and heroines who swim outside the mainstream. From my first novel, written as Charles Atkins, The Portrait (St Martin’s Press) to this latest outing as Caleb James, Dark Blood (DSP Publications), I have wanted my characters to populate genre novels—mysteries, thrillers, and such—but to take the reader down less-traveled paths.

In The Portrait I wanted a murder mystery with a hero who had a realistic and serious mental illness—bipolar disorder. It provided a wonderful intersection of my passions—writing and psychiatry. That bipolar disorder runs in my family allowed me to use my front-row seat to good advantage.

When it was time for my second book, Risk Factor (St. Martin’s Press), I was evaluating many children and getting involved in grant applications to start programs for at-risk youth and families. What I learned during that period was how sociopaths come to be. It happens very early, and the causes are often found in extreme abuse, neglect, and abandonment before age two. In a sense, that book—also a mystery which begins with a nurse’s murder on an inpatient adolescent psychiatric unit—is my Frankenstein story. Or how you too can create a monster in a few simple steps. The heroine in that book is a single mother of two whose marriage falls apart in the face of her husband’s infidelity. She provided a wonderful foil to my villain as she struggled to raise her kids with limited resources, but tremendous strength and love.

In my personal life I experienced a trauma with a devastating house fire. From the ashes of that, I penned The Cadaver’s Ball (St. Martin’s Press), with its traumatized psychiatrist protagonist who was unable to rescue his wife and watched her burn to death.

And so it’s gone. I worked in geriatric psychiatry and this led to a series of cozies with two older female protagonists… who fall in love with each other. The most recent of these, Done to Death (Severn House) was even a finalist for a Lambda award. As an aside, my work with hundreds of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s also led to a nonfiction Q&A book written as Charles Atkins, MD—The Alzheimer’s Answer Book (Sourcebooks).

And then one year at Book Expo America in New York I met Elizabeth North and the Dreamspinner crew. This was at a time where many/most of the LGBT imprints and publishers had left the market. Suddenly I knew where I was going to head next. Readers in the LGBT communities have to look long and hard to find our voices in mainstream and genre fiction. For pleasure readers, those who like mysteries, romance, thrillers, and the like, getting quality work where we are in the starring roles is a challenge, for the voracious reader, finding it in bulk is impossible.

I grew up in a family where we chewed through thousands of romance novels. I have no idea why this was our shared addiction. Shopping bags filled with paperbacks from the local swap shop would come into and leave the house. My vocabulary was seriously impacted by regency romances. And while I gobbled these down, alongside a lot of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Bram Stoker, and anything and everything horror, it was hard to find my reflection in the faces of the heroes and heroines. And so, after a dozen or more novels and a few nonfiction books, including a textbook, into my writing career, I wrote Haffling (Harmony Ink/DSP Publications).

To say that Haffling, my first young adult novel, wrote itself is disingenuous. But my fingers flew as I birthed Alex Nevus, his mentally ill mother Marilyn, and his sister Alice with her weirdling ways. As with all my fiction, I view it as mainstream. The fact that my protagonist is a sixteen-year-old gay kid is both important and irrelevant. He’s the hero. Full stop. He needs to do what heroes do—confront the villain and his own fears and insecurities and overcome them.

With my latest, Dark Blood (DSP Publications), I’ve again chosen to have a strong, openly gay hero and to drop him into an intense cat-and-mouse thriller with paranormal and magical realism overlays. It’s currently my favorite kind of novel, and I feel excited and privileged to be able to write—and publish—the books I want to create, with heroes and heroines who fight the good fight and travel different and more nuanced paths.