Lena's BSc (Hons) Forensic Psychology degree gave her the insight she needed to write her next book
People go to university for all kinds of good reasons; to change career, to learn a new subject… for me it was researching my next book.
A few years ago I wrote a series of short stories that mixed psychological fiction with self-help guides. At the end of every chapter there’s an informal self-exam that linked back to aspects of the story, to help readers observe their own mental health. I had the idea because people can be reluctant to read self-help guides or even to acknowledge they might need help. I hoped that by putting self-exams within fiction they might be more accepted, more absorbable.
The book was published in Mandarin by Pelangi, which, while amazing, also left me with a conundrum. How do I follow it up? I wanted to write more stories in this style and decided that to make them as useful as possible for readers, I should formally study a course that would give me a better understanding of the thinking and science behind my work.
I began an undergraduate course in Malaysia and then transferred to University of Portsmouth in year two - the thing that really hooked me? The facilities. There’s a fully functioning forensic lab that I can use here! Now I’m studying forensic psychology, with elements of criminology, that is focussed on understanding the abnormalities in people’s thinking and learning how to fix them.
I've only been here a few terms and in that short time Portsmouth has proven an inspirational place to live. It has all the modern goings-on of a major city and also the beauty and peacefulness of the coast, which is perfect for a writer.
Studying here has already started to shape my writing. On the course we’re taught to be open-minded when considering criminals and their cases, and to look at everything from multiple angles. This has really opened up my stories and made them more considered, which I’m particularly glad for as I feel a social responsibility to strike the right tone.
Between writing, studying and volunteering with the local police I find myself with a busy schedule, but that’s to be expected as I work towards my future. Besides, I enjoy being busy. It keeps me fulfilled.