Bradford's Kathy Ailles didn't realize she had been abused as a child until the age of 40 when she was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, a mental health condition in which a person develops multiple personalities to help them deal with certain traumatic situations.
"When children are hurt at a really young age, and it's too much for their little brains to deal with, sometimes they can split into different identities," she explained. "I had some different identities inside of me that would come forward and take the pain, and they were holding the memories so I didn't have to."
It is her lived experiences and 14-year prayer counselling journey to become "whole" again that prompted the idea for her debut novel, Untarnished, which comes out this June.
Aillles says she felt the Lord promising that good would come from all her pain and believes the book was His way of fulfilling that promise.
"One thing that is very important to me is not to focus on the abuse, but the healing process," said Ailles.
In the novel, the two fictional characters Penny and Nellie are both looking for an escape from the traumas caused by the Second World War. Ailles has woven pieces of her father's history into the story as well, which she says was therapeutic for her after his passing in December 2021. She wants to make it clear that the abuse she experienced as a child did not come from any of her family members.
She doesn't go into detail on the abuse in the book but instead alludes to it so as to not trigger any victims of abuse.
"The whole point of this book is to show that we can move forward in our lives," she said. "My book is focusing on hope."
It wasn't until the fall of 2020 that the idea of publishing a book came to her.
"Through many years of counselling I did volumes and volumes of journals because that was my way of focusing and dealing with the things that I have gone through, I hadn't really thought of a book," she said.
When the pandemic hit, she had a lot of time to sit down and focus on her writing.
"It literally flowed at times," she said.
She said she slowly started to realize that the book would be the way to help others deal with their pain.
"Whether trauma comes at the hands of others, whether it comes from your poor life choices or just circumstances of life, there is healing available, for me, my avenue was with the Lord and prayer counselling," she said.
Ailles has published the book with the Christian publishing company, Word Alive Press. The book is available for purchase on Amazon, Indigo and the Word Alive Press website.
"It was a neat experience," she said of the publishing process.
She already has her second book in the works; a sequel that will follow the siblings of Penny and Nellie.
The cover of the book features a photo of Ailles as a young child, juxtaposed by Ailles's artist sister, Karen Buck Mackintosh, into a mixed media work of photography art.
Ailles and her husband have lived in Bradford for the past 40 years. After working for over 20 years as an administrative assistant at the Bradford Baptist Church, Ailles retired and has spent the past few years writing her debut novel. She has always been an avid volunteer with the church community, organizing many social events and donating her time to help the worship team and women's, child and youth ministries.
Ailles will be hosting a book launch event at the Bradford Public Library on Saturday, June 4, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., where she will be speaking and doing a reading as well as signing copies of the book.
To learn more about the book and to order a copy, visit Ailles's website here.