A Novelist’s Notebook

PKgrrlcoverGoing through some old digital notebooks this morning, I came across my notes for the novel PKgrrl. And I wondered if readers understood the extent to which some writers — this one, for sure — go to bring life to the page. Below, here are some of my notes for a minor character in PKgrrl:

I am mainly thinking of Ell’s mother at this juncture. At this point we know that at birth she was disgusted by the baby, threatened, and attempted to have the child killed. Infanticide? What’s that disease called where… postpartum depression.

Knowledge of Ell from great-grandmother — scared, horrified

Instant postpartum depression giving birth in Lodi

Seeks darkness and darkness comes at the accident

She is possessed

But unbeknownst to everyone, including herself, she is Jairus.


The symptoms of postpartum depression are the same as the symptoms of depression that occurs at other times in life. Along with a sad or depressed mood, you may have some of the following symptoms:

  • Agitation or irritability
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Feeling withdrawn or unconnected
  • Lack of pleasure or interest in most or all activities
  • Loss of concentration
  • Loss of energy
  • Problems doing tasks at home or work
  • Negative feelings toward the baby
  • Significant anxiety
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Trouble sleeping

A mother with postpartum depression may also:

  • Be unable to care for herself or her baby
  • Be afraid to be alone with her baby
  • Have negative feelings toward the baby or even think about harming the baby (Although these feelings are scary, they are almost never acted on. Still you should tell your doctor about them right away.)
  • Worry intensely about the baby, or have little interest in the baby

Maybe the mother can be inflicted with this, but I also think she might have been in touch with the great-grandmother, who was a Jairus, and being in touch with her became a “urim” perhaps.

Surely the mother will be possessed. She is possessed because the mother has asked to be, to fill the vacuum inside her; possession doesn’t just happen, you have to grant it admission.

When the car accident happens the mother is trying to shoot the child in Eliot’s embrace. She is the person who throws the baby out the window, only to see it land in a tree.

When is she possessed?

After the accident, as I have it. Possessed by a lower demon.

Parnell knows most of this and tells Ell, or we hear it in his final address at the end.