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Featured author: Lorna Collins

21 February 2022

Image of Lorna Collins, a woman standing before some shelves of books. She is wearing an orange top and a long necklace, looking slightly to her left, with a smile.

A big thank you to author Lorna Collins who wrote this guest post for us about her writing.

I wrote my new book, ‘Squawk: A Book of Bird Adventures’, in response to the extraordinary, colourful, hallucinatory experiences I have, which respond to my damaged brain. When I was 18 (23 years ago) I had a severe traumatic brain injury, after falling off a horse. You can still see the damage from this injury when you look at my brain scans now. A neuropsychiatrist recently assessed me and said that – looking at where my brain is damaged and hearing me talk about my experiences – it seems I have damaged the ‘edit’ button of my imagination. This makes it very hard for me to filter my unconscious mind.

I see, so much. All sorts of creatures appear to me and tell me their stories. These creatures seem utterly real to me; it is hard to tell the difference between what I am seeing and what other people can see. Painting and writing help me to express and celebrate my unique perceptions, or ‘visions’ as I call them. The visions are a beacon for me, they express something very true about who and how I am. If I am stressed or anxious, I may see violent or aggressive scenarios. But most of the time, I see funny and miraculous happenings, mostly of animals who share their unique adventures with me.

‘Squawk’ contains 16 of these stories about birds who have appeared to me. I am a conduit for these creatures; I paint and write down what they say. The resulting stories I compile in this book are suitable for children aged 8-12, and the whole family. People think about hallucinations as something violent or dangerous, perhaps not suitable for children. But I show how pure, creative and liberal hallucinatory experiences can be. I hope people will read my book and celebrate their imaginations. ‘Squawk’ is a book that promotes and encourage family storytelling. We all have stories to tell. Let us come together to read these stories, share our own ideas and perceptions, and build a community of creativity.

Lorna Collins