Michael Fischer’s fiction has appeared in Beloit Fiction Journal, Green Mountains Review, Bayou, and several other places. His manuscript is titled “Crybaby Lane,” and he is a Visiting Assistant Professor in English at Marshall University.
Michael, “Aim for the Moon” is part of a story cycle project of yours, the setting of which is “Mid-State Psychiatric.” What inspired the project?
In 1992, at the age of fourteen, I was committed to Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina for a year-and-a-half. Mid-State is the fictional psychiatric hospital loosely based on my experiences at Dix in the early 90s and other state mental hospitals I’ve researched in the South.
Originally, I set the stories at Dix, but it didn’t work. The burden to “get the details right”—down to every street and ward name—suffocated my imagination and became a crutch to avoid brutal honesty. For instance, when the book was set at Dix, I would often say—in the most self-congratulatory way possible—“I must represent these people—my people—who don’t have a voice! I must help fight the battle against mental illness stigma!”