Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Talking About PTSD with Maria Hammarblad Author of Flashback

In today’s world we’re surrounded by acronyms. I mean, LOL, ROTFL, ADD, AFK, OCD, LMAO, BBL, PTSD… Mixed together they all look cute and funny. Still, while some are a joke, others change people’s lives and can at times be the difference between life and death.

I thought I was on top of things. I didn’t know what everything was, and it took a while for me to figure out ASMSG means Authors’ Social Media Support Group. For some reason I thought the letters meant something really dirty. I still think the combination of them looks dirty. Guess I have a dirty imagination…

Anyway, I was able to tell the difference between LOL – Laugh Out Loud – and OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – just fine. Go me!

Or, maybe not so much.

I wrote the first draft of Flashback convinced I made it up. Seriously, I put the hero through hell on Earth. Nothing that bad could possibly be real!

I worked on the book intermittently for a couple of years and was finally so happy with it I submitted it to my publisher. She wrote back, “Maria, you really surprised me. I didn’t expect you to write about PTSD.”

Dooh-moment: “Uuh, I write about the what-and-the-what now?”

Google gave a quick answer. PTSD isn’t just a cute acronym for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s a very real affliction and can happen to anyone. It’s not a mysterious disease that only affects people in the military. It can happen to anyone who faces a situation larger than themselves.

A few examples are car accidents, death of a loved one, robbery, home invasion, working in any type of emergency or medical field, an animal attack, or a natural disaster. The list could be much longer. These situations don’t have to lead to PTSD, but they can.

It was time to study. Most literature I came across was dry and filled with facts. Sure, facts are great, but everything I read lacked the human touch. Knowing what something is doesn’t translate to understanding how it affects people, their own lives, and loved ones.

I finally stumbled over a Facebook page called A Spouse’s Story (

This page changed my life. It’s run by the wife of a military veteran with PTSD, and they share the good, the bad, and the ugly in a way so frank and openhearted their posts make me both laugh and cry. People living with PTSD also come here to share, ask, and give advice. Reading this page and interacting with the wonderful people on it opened my eyes for another thing: PTSD applies to people close to me, to people I know and love.

Becky’s posts on the page have taught me to handle situations I didn’t understand. With increased tolerance, my own life worked much better!

There is too much wisdom in her words and in her posts to summarize in one blog post, but I recommend everyone to visit her page and look around.

Going back to Flashback the book, it is a figment of my imagination. In the book, the heroine learns to handle her new way of life with relative ease, and the hero gets over the bulk of his problems quickly. It’s a book. Allowing them to do so is convenient for me as a writer.

In real life, it’s not that easy.

In real life, there are good days and bad days. Healing takes time, and some scars never close completely.

Keep PTSD in mind. Sometimes we think people around us act strangely, but there’s so much in everyone’s past no one else knows. For some people, stepping out the front door can be a battle. Being patient and kind can mean the world to another person.


Maria Hammarblad

Genre: contemporary romance/suspense/military

Desert Breeze Publishing

Release Date: June 21, 2013

Book Description:

Steve Petersen is a Very Troubled Man. Sole survivor of a Taliban POW camp, he often thinks only parts of him returned; his sanity appears to have been left behind. He seeks solace in alcohol and drugs, but nothing helps block the images from his mind for more than minutes at a time, and he is trapped in horrifying flashbacks.

He is more than surprised when he wakes up in a bright and merry bedroom that turns out to belong to the widow Anna, a woman he has rudimentary memories of meeting. Knowing he should leave isn’t the same as doing it, and before he knows what’s happening, he finds himself pulled into a world with real life problems, such as folding laundry, and what’s for dinner.

Whiskey is no longer his first priority, and not being alone in his waking nightmare is a relief. That is, until Anna disappears. Steve finds himself forced to return to Afghanistan, a place where he’ll have to face both external enemies and himself.

About the Author:

Born in Sweden in the early 1970's, Maria showed a large interest for books at an early age. Even before she was able to read or write, she made her mom staple papers together into booklets she filled with drawings of suns and planets. She proudly declared them, "The Sun Book." They were all about the sun. She also claimed, to her mother's horror, that her being on Earth was a big mistake and that her alien family would come and bring her home at any moment. This never happened, but both the interest in space and the passion for bookmaking stayed with her.

As an adult Maria's creativity got an outlet through playing bass in a number of rock bands, and through writing technical manuals and making web pages for various companies and organizations. She did write drafts for a few novels, but the storytelling muse was mostly satisfied through role playing online on Myspace. It was here, while writing stories together with people from around the globe, she stumbled onto Mike. They started talking out of character, and she moved over to Florida to him late 2008. Today the two are married and live in the Tampa Bay area with three rescue dogs.

Besides writing and playing bass, Maria enjoys driving off-road, archery, and Tameshigiri.

Upcoming releases

Operation Earth, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing August 2013

Borealis XII, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing November 2013

Fun Facts

Favorite color:                        Blue
Favorite food:             Chicken with cashew nuts
Doesn't eat:                 Mammals
Favorite TV Show:     Star Trek TNG and Leverage
Favorite animal:         Border Collie
Quotes:                       "Full Speed Ahead" and "Caffeine is good for you"


Maria Hammarblad said...

Thank you so much for having me on the blog! =D

Bren Lee said...

Fabulous story Maria! PTSD is very well known in the military. I often think my husband suffers from it but he's one that won't go for help. I never thought of others suffering from it though. Possibly I suffered as a child when my Mother sudden passed away? Interesting to thing about all those who could be suffering and either don't know they have it or are in a denial.

Gives us all something to think about.

Maria Hammarblad said...

Thank you! And thank you for coming over! =D

Your post made me think of something I read on that Facebook page I mentioned: A spouse's story. She wrote that a lot of military men and women will deny having PTSD if someone asks them, but if someone would ask their family they'd definitely say "yes." For such strong people it must be hard to admit something that can be seen as a weakness. =(

The death of a parent could definitely trigger PTSD, especially in a child. (And either way, losing one's mom sucks.)

I know one (maybe more) person who got it in a car crash, and one person who was held at gunpoint at work. Lots of scary stuff!