After eight years of writing and researching, J Ward member Melissa Brown has published her first novel.
The fictional novel Number 1 Flint Hill is centred around the Ararat Lunatic Asylum from 1898-1900.
"Ararat is the pivotal point of the book. It's about the doctors, patients and women in town and how they all worked together to advocate at the asylum," Mrs Brown said.
"Everything in the book was in Ararat during that time - the train station, churches, shire hall, hotel ... it follows the characters and townspeople that would have existed at this time.
"The whole town itself is featured predominantly in the book as it would have been back then.
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"It's also about the hierarchy of colonial Victoria ... and the novel features a lot of adult content."
Mrs Brown said when her son was diagnosed with epilepsy it "triggered" the need to know more mental health during the colonial period.
"When writing this book, I really delved into Victoria's mental health history and the goldfields," she said.
"But I am also hoping to get people reading about Ararat and start to help preserve Aradale.
"It breaks my heart to think that this place may just not be saved. .. I am hoping this book shines a light on Ararat.
"I really do want to treat the place with the respect it deserves and put it on the map. I am absolutely besotted with this town and how gorgeous it is."
Mrs Brown, who lives in Melbourne, assists J Ward with their historical research.
"I am an avid reader and I love history. I trailed the police gazettes, reports from lunatic asylums and wove it into this fictional piece," she said.
"I visited Ararat for the first time eight years ago to do the ghost tour with Eerie Tours, and I absolutely fell in love with Aradale.
"The place has captured my soul. I kept trekking up the highway to come back more and more to see the palace. However, I can't come and visit at the moment because of the lockdown in Melbourne.
"I don't have any affiliation with Ararat except for the fact that I think in a previous life I was there. I just love the town."
You can purchase a copy of the book here
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