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Oban author Stuart Simms tells us how his struggles with mental health during the pandemic inspired his first book of stories, Elementals, with all royalties this year donated to mental health charity Shout 85258.
Mental health and our struggle to talk about it isn’t a problem exclusive to the past two years, but many of us have seen a worsening of our mental health as a direct result of COVID.
There are few situations more anxiety-inducing than a global pandemic and
COVID regulations have separated us from people we might have turned to for help.
Personally, I can’t imagine many scenarios worse for someone with OCD than the risk of catching a deadly virus from any surface or person you come into contact with. I felt
fortunate that l lived in Oban throughout the pandemic and enjoyed its relative remoteness, but being located here meant that I, like a lot of people, was faced with the added anxiety of low job security.
Finding ways to express how I was feeling during the past two years was
challenging so l returned to an old hobby and started writing again. I began with an idea for a short story about a young man struggling with his identity. After that the ideas kept coming and I had three more stories.
The end result of a year-and-a-half of writing was Elementals, a collection of all four stories. Each story was inspired by a different aspect of mental health and each of the four characters faces their own unique physical and mental challenges. Their struggles are tied to the four elements and the elemental creatures associated with them:
‘A young warrior must capture a dangerous earth elemental to prove himself. A
reluctant hero endures a haunted forest to hunt an undead beast. A group of travellers
face a deadly climb for the promise of a wish. A novice recovers from a difficult trial and finds new meaning from her life.’
My earliest motivation for writing these stories was to benefit my own mental health,
but with the encouragement of my partner, family and friends I decided to self-publish the stories, with the goal of raising money for a mental health charity.
My chosen charity is Shout 85258, a free text helpline available day and night UK-wide. The helpline is anonymous and confidential, making it ideal for anyone that feels more comfortable starting a conversation about their mental health through a text. I believe a service like this is especially important in places like Oban where it can sometimes feel like we’re far removed from outside support.
Until December 31, all royalties from the sale of paperback and eBook
editions in the UK will be donated to Shout 85258. To contact the helpline text ‘Shout’ to 85258 or visit giveusashout.org.
The experience of writing these stories has only encouraged me to continue writing
and next year I aim to self-publish a full-length novel featuring a character from
Elementals. I hope to support charities through writing for years to come, as long as the
ideas don’t stop.
Elementals: Stories of the Four Elements by Stuart Simms is available through
Caption: To cope with anxiety during covid lockdowns, Stuart Simms from Oban returned to an old hobby – writing. After a year-and-a-half, the end result was a collection of four stories titled Elementals. ‘Each story was inspired by a different aspect of mental health and each of the four characters faces their own unique physical and mental challenges,’ he said.
New author Stuart Simms, who moved to Oban six years ago as a SAMS student and now works at CuanTec, wrote a fantasy short story collection during the many covid lockdowns. It is now available on Amazon with profits from the sale of paperback copies this year being donated to the mental health charity helpline Shout 85258.