Psychiatrist’s WWII-era novel follows a battlefront surgeon’s path to recovering from war-related trauma

A compelling love story underscores Bruce Duncan’s journey to healing

LOUISVILLE, KY –Internationally recognized psychiatrist Jess Wright has penned his first book of fiction, “A Stream to Follow” (SparkPress, April 2022), a thrilling and heartwarming tale of healing from post-war trauma.

When Bruce Duncan, a battlefront surgeon, returns after WWII to a small town in Pennsylvania to open a general practice, the ravages of his war aren’t over. Haunted by images of soldiers he tried to save, his own near-death experiences, and a lost love, Bruce has little respite before new battles grip him. Bruce’s brother, a decorated fighter pilot, is facing his own trauma, and refuses to accept help. A former friend wages a vicious campaign to stop Bruce from uncovering the dangers that could shutter a local industry where silicosis is killing the workers. And Bruce must decide between the slim prospect of reuniting with the Englishwoman who chose her family over him and a growing attraction to a trail-blazing woman doctor.

With a story that moves from post-war America back to the killing fields of Alsace and to England under the siege of German rockets, “A Stream to Follow” gives fresh vision for paths to healing. Plunging deep into the crucible of trauma, it’s an uplifting tale of valor, resilience, and the search for enduring love.

“A Stream to Follow”
Jess Wright | April 19, 2022 | SparkPress | Historical Fiction
Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-68463-121-6 | $16.95

About the author…

JESS WRIGHT: Jess Wright is an internationally recognized psychiatrist who is the Kolb Endowed Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Louisville. “Breaking Free from Depression,” one of his self-help books, has been called a “must-have for finding a way through the pain of depression.” “Good Days Ahead,” his scientifically tested online program for depression and anxiety, has helped many thousands on their path to recovery.

A leading expert in cognitive-behavior therapy, Jess Wright is the first author of a trilogy of award-winning and best-selling nonfiction books that integrate text and video to help readers learn the key methods of this effective treatment. He has lectured widely in Europe, Asia, South America, and the United States.

“A Stream to Follow” is Jess Wright’s first novel. For more information, please visit:

Follow Jess Wright on social media:
Facebook: @jesswrightauthor | Twitter: @jesswrightmd | Instagram: @jesswrightmd

In an interview, Jess Wright can discuss:

  • What inspired him to start a new chapter as a fiction writer, after penning many successful nonfiction books
  • How his experience as a psychiatrist helped him write a story of PTSD, and what contemporary readers can take away from the novel regarding trauma, resilience and recovery
  • The tendency in men to bury their feelings, and why opening up is crucial
  • The research he conducted for the novel, especially surrounding the work of battlefront surgeons and the dangers of silicosis
  • Why he chose to include a love story between Bruce and Amelia, and his thoughts on how relationships contribute to healing

An Interview with Jess Wright

How were your experiences as a psychiatrist helpful to you when writing this book? Did you draw from any other experiences in your life when writing Bruce Duncan’s story?

In my work as a psychiatrist, I’ve listened to the intimate and searing details of traumas and the struggles that sufferers have had in trying to overcome PTSD. And I’ve had first-hand experience with personal and family trauma. These experiences helped me infuse Bruce Duncan’s story with deep emotion and realism.

How did you learn about the experiences of battlefront surgeons during WWII?

My research on battlefront surgery during WWII had some shocking results. I wasn’t fully aware of the grave danger the doctors and other medical personnel faced at battlefield aid stations on the frontline. In The Other Side of Time, Brendan Phibbs, M.D., told the real-life story of the vicious action he saw in the winter of 1944-45 when the Germans fired with little or no restraint on field hospitals and ambulances. A number of other books helped me learn about and describe the gritty and often perilous conditions at battlefront aid stations.

Post-war, Bruce Duncan sets his sights on helping workers at a silica plant. How did you know about silicosis and the dangers the men faced? Is silicosis still a problem?

When I was a college student I spent my summers working at a silica plant where men who were only in their 40’s or early 50’s were afflicted by the ravages of silicosis. It was a tough environment, but the plant was a cornerstone of the local economy and an essential part of the industrial production of the country. Silicosis is still a common life-threatening illness in miners and workers in industries that process silica-laden products.

Bruce Duncan appears to have PTSD. How is PTSD treated, and how does Bruce try to overcome the weight of trauma? Are there any lessons in your novel for people living with trauma today?

Bruce Duncan has terrifying flashbacks and nightmares of his near-death experiences in WWII. And he has to fight the tendency to bury his thoughts and emotions and avoid triggers for the haunting memories. Very little was known about PTSD or how to treat it successfully in the 1940s when this novel takes place. However, Bruce is determined to heal his emotional wounds and has the common sense to confront them. The current treatments for PTSD use medications and principles of cognitive-behavior therapy, including exposure to the memories of trauma until they lose their terrifying impact. Readers can learn from Bruce’s story that a determined effort to confront one’s fears, and to do it over and over, is one of the most potent healing forces.

Bruce and Amelia face very long odds to make their relationship work. Do you think that loving relationships can help heal trauma? As the novel ended, did you forecast there would be further healing?

Loving relationships can provide a crucial foundation for the healing process. Without such relationships, sufferers of PTSD may feel unsupported, alone, and adrift. In A Stream to Follow, Bruce has the advantage of a loving family but aching grief at the loss of Amelia. As the novel unfolds, his struggle to reconnect with Amelia becomes a centerpiece of the healing process. When I wrote A Stream to Follow, I envisioned a series where Bruce and Amelia face future challenges. Let’s see what happens.