The Age, 23 May 2009
Will Elliott maps a journey to the 'other side' in his battle with schizophrenia, writes Owen Richardson.
WILL Elliott's first book, the award-winning The Pilo Family Circus, describes a descent into the underworld: feckless young Jamie is kidnapped by psychotic clowns and taken into an alternative universe of pain and fear and demonic conspiracy.
The main character in his new book, Strange Places, also takes a wild and disorienting journey: the television tells him it knows what he's been up to, he comes to understand that his family is out to get him, and one night he sees the moon blown up by a nuclear weapon.
The difference between the two books is that the main character of Strange Places is called Will Elliott, and what the book describes actually happened to him.
In his late teens and early 20s Elliott underwent two psychotic episodes, the second of which ended with his being diagnosed as schizophrenic. Now 30, Elliott hasn't experienced a relapse and has decided to tell the story, at some cost to his present comfort.
"To go back and immerse myself in it, and especially the first symptoms in the early days, it was embarrassing for me," Elliott says. "It was the opposite of pleasant nostalgia, to keep going back over that and checking that it was all arranged properly was the worst part for me. I don't know how it is going to be having other people reading these intimate and not exactly flattering details."
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