The creative artefact, Devin’s Nightmare, and the accompanying exegesis explore our understanding of unreliable narrators, with an aim to broaden that understanding within the context of reality’s subjectivity as experienced by sufferers of mental illness. Written in third-person, Devin’s Nightmare is an experimental novella in both theme and narrative technique, examining the question of whether third-person omniscient point-of-view writing can effectively develop unreliable narration. In a thematic sense, my aim is to accurately depict the unreliability of reality perception for persons undergoing psychotic illnesses. Unlike fiction which is clearly and explicitly “about” mental illness, Devin’s break from reality is designed to be ambiguous, employing devices from science fiction / the paranormal, with the aim of leading the reader through a process of “reality testing” common to persons undergoing psychosis. Methodologically, although the artefact’s construction was process-driven, I have employed practice-led research with the aim of refining understanding of unreliable narration within narrative writing practice. The exegesis provides an examination of more familiar uses of unreliable narration via novels by Irvine Welsh (Filth and Marabou Stork Nightmares), as well as an examination of two third-person omniscient novels – John Gardner’s Mickelsson’s Ghosts and Janet Frame’s A State of Siege – which show some traits of unreliable narration (although they are not often described as unreliable narration). In addition, the exegesis extrapolates and summarises the themes and techniques employed in the artefact to demonstrate contributions to knowledge for creative writing practitioners, as well as to promote a greater understanding of the effect psychosis can have on the perceptions of reality for those undergoing it.
Submitted in the fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Creative Arts, University of the Sunshine Coast, 2016.