Work on Fury has slowed to a crawl around here, but it’s nonetheless moving forward. The writing has finally arrived at Oklahoma, where it should go given that HPL’s “The Curse of Yig” is set there. As a writer, it’s especially challenging because this is the first section in a locale that I’ve never visited. Nonetheless, between interlibrary loan and Flickr, I’m getting much of the local color I want.
One of my troubles has been my desire for historical accuracy in this section. For example, “The Curse of Yig” tells of an insane woman in 1889 who is incarcerated at a local mental hospital. What I’ve found is that, in that year, the state of Oklahoma had no mental hospitals for whites (one or two Native American tribes owning their own facilities), so the mentally ill were periodically shipped off to an asylum in Illinois. Each patient had to be accompanied by two officials, a junket that cost the state half as much as a year at the asylum. It wasn’t until the following year that the state opened its first mental health facility. All of this is fascinating, of course, but you don’t really want the investigators running off to Illinois in the middle of the session.
Another conundrum has been the asylum in Guthrie that is the setting for “Curse.” There was actually a mental hospital in Guthrie, known as Duke Sanitarium or Duke Hall, founded by John Williams Duke in 1900. I wanted to track it to more recent times, but it seems that it drops off the map after this 1932 Oklahoma Supreme Court case. Thus, I’ve had to invent my own institution in which the story could take place.
Of course, if any of you are from Oklahoma and can help out with any of the above, that would be great.