Bryan Rice seeks to shed some light on mental illness in his novels.

Whether he’s writing screenplays, poems or novels, Bryan Rice — who goes by the pen name Dominic Bryan Rice — infuses his works with insights gained from personal experience. Like many of his characters, Rice has dealt with mental illness, in his own life and in his previous work at Kids-Peace, a behavioral and mental-health facility for teens located in Romulus, Seneca County.

“Writing was my way of kind of working through the illness and making it something positive ... of bringing a message of hope and perseverance,” said Rice. He hopes his works can reduce the stigma attached to mental illness and encourage people who suffer from it to seek professional help.

Rice, 28, is currently publishing his second novel, “Eden’s Basement,” with a self-publishing press called Infinity Publishing. His first novel, “Afflicted,” was produced earlier this year by Publish America, a press based in Baltimore.

“Eden’s Basement” tells the story of a serial killer who eventually quits his deadly habit and confronts his psychological demons.

“Afflicted” follows the life of Paul, a man suffering from schizophrenia. It explores the effect of Paul’s disease on his wife and son, Isaiah, who also suffers from a form of the disease.

“It’s a psychological thriller. The way it unfolds — it’s a roller-coaster, really,” said Rice of his first novel. Though dark in tone and subject matter, both books are “stories of redemption,” and both contain a “thread of the supernatural,” said Rice.

Rice grew up in Manchester and graduated from Red Jacket High School. He studied communications, theater and cinema at SUNY Cortland then worked at KidsPeace before beginning his master’s degree in film studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Rice has always been a writer, but it was a creative-writing instructor at SUNY Cortland who first encouraged him to try his hand at fiction. He was also inspired by his grandfather, Marvin Heier, who published a novel with Publish America in 2005, and by Martin Burns, a former Canandaigua city supervisor and local restaurateur who also wrote short stories.

Rice does most of his writing at home, almost exclusively on the computer. He likes to meditate before he begins, and he describes his work as a “stream-of-consciousness” process. He writes almost every day, but he says he “never forces the process.”

Still, Rice works quickly; he finished “Afflicted” in just five months. He has also written four screenplays and a number of poems — one of which was published in “Forever Spoken,” an anthology published by the International Library of Poetry. He is trying to distribute his first feature film, “Sins of the Afterlife,” and is in the process of casting his second, called “No Mind,” based on the plot of his novel, “Afflicted.”

Rice says he hopes to eventually direct feature films for a living, though he will never completely abandon his fiction writing.

To other young, budding writers, Rice offers the following advice:

“Try to bring likability to the story. Create a character that people can sympathize with. And be willing to take risks, to startle and inspire the reader.”

It also helps to have a supportive spouse — Rice has been married to Michele for three years.

For more information on Rice’s movies and books, go to www.holyfusionfilms.com.

Contact Hilary Smith at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 343 or at hsmith@mpnewspapers.com.