Today I help end the blog tour for Psychotopia by R.N. Morris. He will be sharing his thoughts on stepping out of your comfort zone as he did with Psychotopia. There is also an international giveaway going on, so be sure to check that out!!
A game for the times we live – and die – in. Enter Psychotopia, a dark new dystopian novel from the author of the acclaimed Silas Quinn mysteries.
PSYCHOTOPIA, LEVEL ONE. Create your own boutique psychopath, then deceive, manipulate and be ruthless, spreading mayhem and destruction to reach the next levels.
It’s the computer game for our times. After all, the amount of crazy in the world is increasing. Senseless violence on the streets is becoming the norm. Can Dr Arbus’s ground-breaking device identify and neutralize psychopaths before it’s too late? In this increasingly dysfunctional world, surely Callum standing by Aimee after her devastating encounter with Charlie is proof that real love and goodness can still win in a world that’s increasingly rotten . . . Or can it?
Step outside your comfort zone….
Before I wrote PSYCHOTOPIA, most of my novels were in the historical crime genre: four books set in nineteenth century St Petersburg and three (now five) set in London on the eve of the First World War. So writing a dystopian novel set in the near future was definitely a step outside my comfort zone.
I actually wrote the book a couple of years ago. The 2016 presidential campaign was in full swing in America and in Britain we had the whole Brexit thing happening. It felt like a crazy time to be alive. Conventional politics was being turned on its head. We had an orange reality TV star running for president who openly admitted sexually assaulting women. (Spoiler alert, he won.) Over here, blatant lies were being writ large on the side of buses.
Forget writing a dystopia, we were living in one.
So why did I do it?
Let me first say, I didn’t set out to write a dystopian novel. I thought I might write a crime novel with a psychopath as its central character and narrator. Something like Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me, but set in a rundown 1960s British seaside resort. (I still might write that one, so hands off, other writers!)
That idea got me into researching psychopaths. It’s an area I’ve always been interested in. Naturally, I’m a crime writer. I’d seen a BBC documentary about psychopathy, which had intrigued me not least because one of the psychiatrists researching the field had realised, in the course of his work, that he was a psychopath himself! (There’s a novel in that, surely? Again, hands off!)
I’d heard about Jon Ronson’s book The Psychopath Test. I thought that was probably a good place to start. From that I discovered the work of Robert D. Hare, who developed the Hare Psychopathy Checklist – the Psychopath test that gave Ronson his title.
What happens when…?
As I carried on my research, I came across the theory that the proportion of psychopaths in the population is increasing. Could that mean we’re evolving into a more psychopathic species? A scary thought. And an interesting idea for a book, I thought. Much more interesting than my original one. (And definitely hands off this one, because I’ve already written it!)
So I set about imagining a society which is on the verge of reaching that tipping point.
What happens when the number of psychopaths is close to the number of non-psychopaths? Will politicians have to start formulating their policies to appeal to psychopaths? Will psychopaths end up being in charge?
Welcome to a very bleak place – my imagination.
My original idea, of a story told from the point of view of a psychopath, was still in there (though it ended up being a bit more complex and ambiguous than that). But by setting it in a society where psychopaths are becoming more dominant, I think it became a stronger and, yes, more disturbing idea.
Why would I want to write something disturbing, I hear you ask!
Well, as a writer I think it’s important to push myself. And also to push my imagination – as far as it can go. There should be no boundaries. I admit that the exercise has taken me to a very bleak place, one that some readers may find uncomfortable. If not “stomach-churning” (to quote one reviewer).
That is down to the logic of the idea, I’m afraid. And, as a writer, once you’ve had an idea, you can’t unthink it. You have to follow it through to its conclusion.
Even if that is a very bleak and cold place, a long way away from your comfort zone.
About the Author:
R. N. Morris is the author of ten novels. The latest is PSYCHOTOPIA, published 31 October, 2018.
A Gentle Axe, was published by Faber and Faber in 2007. Set in St Petersburg in the nineteenth century, it features Porfiry Petrovich, the investigating magistrate from Dostoevsky’s great novel, Crime and Punishment. The book was published in many countries, including Russia. He followed that up with A Vengeful Longing, which was shortlisted for the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award (as the CWA Gold Dagger was briefly known). A Razor Wrapped in Silk came next, followed by The Cleansing Flames, which was nominated for the Ellis Peters Historical Novel Dagger.
The Silas Quinn series of novels, set in London in 1914, began with Summon Up The Blood, followed by The Mannequin House, The Dark Palace and The Red Hand of Fury. The next novel in the series, The White Feather Killer, will be published in April 2019.
Taking Comfort is a standalone contemporary novel, written as Roger Morris.
He also wrote the libretto to the opera When The Flame Dies, composed by Ed Hughes.
Win 1 Signed Hardback Copy of Pyschotopia
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