Today I am interviewing C.J. Sutton on the blog tour for Dortmund Hibernate. This one sounds like a good one!
Psychologist Dr Magnus Paul is tasked with the patients of Dortmund Asylum – nine criminally insane souls hidden from the world due to the extremity of their acts.
Magnus has six weeks to prove them sane for transfer to a maximum-security prison, or label them as incurable and recommend a death sentence under a new government act.
As Magnus delves into the darkness of the incarcerated minds, his own sanity is challenged. Secrets squeeze through the cracks of the asylum, blurring the line between reality and nightmare, urging Magnus towards a new life of crime…
The rural western town of Dortmund and its inhabitants are the backdrop to the mayhem on the hill.
It’s Silence of the Lambs meets Shutter Island in this tale of loss, fear and diminishing hope.
Purchase Link is here.
JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a writer from Melbourne, I just completed a Master of Communication degree and I write daily. I’ve recently joined the married club and spent some time on honeymoon this year doing very little, so the writing fire remains ignited. I’ve always lived in Melbourne, with small stints in Sydney as a journalist and South East Asia as an “adventurer”; I use that term loosely because adventure is in the eye of the beholder. I’m an avid sports fan, prefer the silence of the countryside and hope to make a living from this little craft called ‘writing novels’.
JRR: Congrats on the marriage! Did you always want to become an author?
As a child I loved stories and as a teenager I was always reading books, so the passion for writing was there. Becoming an author was not a career choice I was really advised on growing up. It was more a pipe dream that famous or rich people have access to, and school told me to be an accountant or businessman. I studied those areas for a few years and was bored out of my mind, so writing transformed from a nightly hobby to a way to make a living. I started with journalism and copywriting, but writing novels was the goal from the moment I realised I wasn’t too bad with words. Since about the age of eighteen I have been focused on publication, and more than a decade later I have finally found that goal. But it is still only the beginning.
JRR: You reached that goal: Now to continue the journey…. Who was the most influential author you read growing up?
Definitely Stephen King. If he wasn’t scaring the shit out of me he was probably teaching me life lessons through the actions of his characters. The range of his writing meant that if you weren’t in the mood for horror, you could read a sprawling epic such as The Stand or a coming-of-age tale such as The Body. His non-fiction book On Writing remains the single greatest reference for aspiring writers, and his ability to pump out so many titles year after year is just phenomenal. On vacation one year I read a short story of his and knew I would always strive for the life of an author.
JRR: Who is your favorite author as an adult? Who inspires you?
George Orwell. I read 1984 when I was about 20 years old and it instantly became my favourite book, and Animal Farm demonstrated that this wasn’t a once-off. Orwell could construct dystopia so well that you pleaded for hope when there was none. His terms have become ingrained in pop culture, and his influence almost 70 years on from publication remains as powerful as ever. As writers we hope our work lives on forever, that our books become our legacy. George Orwell achieved this, and it saddens me that I’ll never get to read a new novel written by his hand.
JRR: What inspires you to write?
To tell stories that haven’t been told, but also to reach a lifestyle that makes me happy. An author wants to make a living off their novels, to wake up each day and write in relaxing surroundings on projects that they are passionate about. I am inspired to live off my stories and pass them on to new readers. Even with technology, books play such a strong role in the lives of readers and I hope to contribute to this in any way I can.
JRR: What does your writing process consist of?
Coffee, a quiet space and some free time. I’m in the best frame of mind when the sun is shining through the windows, the coffee is fresh and I’m alone with my thoughts. In those moments I feel like I could create anything. Unfortunately, a busy life means this is a rarity, so I have to make sure I’m writing whenever a slot arises. This may be while dinner is cooking or even when I’m supposed to be sleeping. I do try to hit certain word counts when I write and anything under 1,000 words in a session is deemed a failure.
JRR: What made you choose to write a psychological thriller? What is your favorite book/movie of this genre?
My writing tends to lean towards the darkness; violence, gore, explicit language and challenging themes. I also crave the unexpected twists and turns that keep me guessing, so these elements were thrown together and psychological thriller was the result. I’ve referenced Shutter Island as a film that has similarities to Dortmund Hibernate, so I would say it is one of my favourite films in the genre. Silence of the Lambs is another key example. That interplay between two people on opposite sides of the law is so engrossing.
JRR: Where did the idea for Dortmund Hibernate come from? Have you had any experience working in a prison or with the criminally insane?
I have read countless books on people with unstable minds (Charles Manson, etc) but I haven’t worked within the prison or mental health systems. I have visited many facilities, and used journalistic instinct to research diligently, and an interest in the subject matter was obvious from a young age. The idea stemmed from thin air really. I was in bed just thinking and thinking, and then a key scene just played out before me. The next day I had to start writing, and it evolved from that key scene.
JRR: Did you base any character off anyone you know?
Definitely not. If I knew anyone with the character traits that the people contained within Dortmund Asylum have then I’d be a little nervous. The inmates do have traits synonymous with the criminally insane, but they are their own people and are unique in their makeup. If anyone reading Dortmund Hibernate believes a character is similar to them, I advise contacting the local police station immediately.
JRR: Let’s hope there are not any phone calls from anyone reading your novel! If you could have dinner with three people (living or dead) who would they be?
Stephen King, Leonardo DiCaprio and George Orwell. I’m not sure if these three men would get along, but each has played a pivotal role in my writing. I would likely bombard them with questions, but their interactions would be worthy of a new book. If this could result in Leo playing a role in an upcoming adaption of The Stand, I’d happily take credit for making it happen. George Orwell had such forward-thinking ideas, and I would really appreciate his view on the present world. Steve and Leo have political and environmental viewpoints that George would challenge, and such a conversation could change the world. Unfortunately this can never happen, but maybe I can have dinner with the first two one day!
JRR: Great choices for dinner guests! Which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?
I can’t actually think of one specific book, because if there’s a book I’m tempted to read I will generally sacrifice writing time to read it. Reading is great research, and I consume all I can when I hop into bed at night. I do have a stack on my bedside table waiting for my time, but I can honestly say there will always be a stack no matter how many I read through because there are so many interesting tales out there. Some days I spend a bit too much on Amazon or in local bookstores, and I’m referring to both time and money.
JRR: Yes, so many books and never enough time(or money) to get to all of them! What is the best advice you have ever received?
Write stories that you want to read. It’s so simple yet so true. If I’m the only person to read what I write, so be it; at least I’ll have enjoyed myself in the process. You can’t predict what others will respond to, and a book is such a tiring process that worrying about reception will stifle the product. Love what you do. I can’t exactly remember who I first heard this from, but it’s a common theme told by successful authors. Listening to people who have made such a profound impact on this industry can only improve our chances.
Thank you for your time with this interview CJ!
About the Author:
C.J. Sutton is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. He holds a Master of Communication with majors in journalism and creative writing, and supports the value of study through correspondence. His fictional writing delves into the unpredictability of the human mind and the fears that drive us.
As a professional writer C.J. Sutton has worked within the hustle and bustle of newsrooms, the competitive offices of advertising and the trenches of marketing. But his interest in creating new characters and worlds has seen a move into fiction, which has always pleaded for complete attention. Dortmund Hibernate is his debut novel.
Today I am one of the stops on the blog tour for Doctor Perry by Kirsten McKenzie I will be sharing an extract from the novel. There is also a giveaway for one e-book copy!
Under the Hippocratic Oath, a doctor swears to remember that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.
Doctor Perry assures his elderly patients at the Rose Haven Retirement Home that he can offer warmth, sympathy, and understanding. Doctor Perry is a liar.
Hiding from a traumatic past, Elijah Cone wants nothing to do with the other residents at the Rose Haven, content to sit at his window waiting to die. He’s about to learn that under Doctor Perry death is the easy option…
Extract from Doctor Perry:
Clarita Swann has arrived at Doctor Perry’s office for a followup consultation. Newly arrived in Florida, with no friends or family, she is the sort of patient Doctor Perry prefers. The sort of person no one misses if they suddenly disappear without any word. Doctor Perry immobilises Clarita using his modified blood pressure cuff which has a needle inside to administer a strong sedative. What happens next is not for the faint hearted…
Please stay still, Miss Swann,” Doctor Perry advised. She’d be immobile shortly, a shame but a necessity. He couldn’t ignore the messages from his clients requesting fresh stock, and those requests hadn’t come with any pleasantries. There’d been another message today, which he’d replied to by promising to deliver Clarita Swann tonight. After supplying them Clarita, the twins, and then Myra, the Cavalletto’s would have more than enough to be getting on with, giving him ample time to disappear before they’d ask for more. And Mary Louise, he had forgotten about her, he still had her up his sleeve. And Molly, she’d go too. Over the years, his receptionists had been excellent stock, a ready supply. The money he’d earned so good, it was a shame to walk away, but the Cavalletto’s were getting too pushy, and now with the police asking questions about two of his elderly clients… He knew where the two men were, and their files. He’d have to destroy those, but he worried that that might make it look more suspicious? He’d think on it later.
The blood pressure monitor beeped, and the cuff deflated automatically with a quiet hissing sound, leaving no other sounds in the room other than Clarita’s shallow breathing. A tiny prick of blood appeared as he removed the cuff from her arm, and Doctor Perry wiped the blood away with a fragment of gauze.
With his patient unconscious on the table, Doctor Perry unbuckled the straps from beneath the bed, and strapped his patient down. Elevating the bed, he opened Clarita’s mouth, a mouth full of straight white teeth – an orthodontist had done excellent work here.
Bringing over the glass of tonic, he tipped it into Clarita’s open mouth, massaging it down her throat, like you do with a cat and a worm tablet. The tonic’s effect was instantaneous. Doctor Perry had barely poured the last drop in when the convulsions started and Clarita’s body strained against the leather straps.
Doctor Perry rinsed the cup, his back to the machinations on the bed. Not listening to any screaming was a huge improvement. Why he hadn’t thought of this earlier was beyond him, and he made a mental note to take the modified blood pressure cuff to Mary Louise’s house, then he wouldn’t have to bring her here which would save time.
A choking sound made him spin around – Clarita’s eyes were open wide, her mouth frothing. Her bones undulated beneath her rippling skin. How was she awake? This was not the reaction he’d been expecting. He looked back at the cup he’d just washed out. Eight fluid ounces wasn’t too much; five might have taken too long. The splash of liquid on the floor made him look back towards Clarita. The contents of her bladder, her bowel, gastric acid, vomit, her cerebrospinal fluid, dripped from the bed creating a virtually impassable lake around her.
Doctor Perry stood transfixed. He’d never had this reaction to any variation of his tonic, although he had lost several patients in the early years of experimentation, but none like this. Picking up the bottle of tonic, he sniffed it. The odour was no different. He daren’t taste it, not with the potential outcome disintegrating on the bed in front of him; a disaster. Backing away, he stuffed the tonic bottles into his bag and snapped it shut. He’d have to clean up the mess, but it was still rippling and heaving, the limbs alternately shrinking and growing back.
A sound like a gunshot made the doctor jump. Clarita’s lovely white teeth weren’t even her own. A full set of dentures exploded from her mouth as her jaw shrank and expanded, landing several feet across the room, scattering the individual teeth in every direction upon impact.
Clarita now reminded Doctor Perry of the Old Croghan Man, an Iron Age body he’d read about years ago. With her skin split like a leather lounge suite left too long in the sun, and her tendons and arteries guitar string taut, her body pulled in on itself, distorting her into an unrecognisable tangle of muscles.
Fleeing crossed Doctor Perry’s mind as he surveyed his consulting room, his bag in his hands. There was too much of Clarita left to stuff into the hazardous waste container and cleaning up would take the whole night. He could just run, now, and forget the others, and the Cavalletto’s. He had enough money to hide from them, and enough tonic. He was looking forward to regaining his youth, but not with this batch. He needed to go to his lab to make another batch and then he’d run, which meant he had to clean up now.
The shuddering on the bed stopped and silence reigned until Doctor Perry pulled out the trash sacks, shook them open, and stuffed Clarita Swann’s desiccated remains into the thick black plastic bags.
About the Author:
For many years Kirsten McKenzie worked in her family’s antique store, where she went from being allowed to sell the 50c postcards as a child, to selling $5,000 Worcester vases and seventeenth century silverware, providing a unique insight into the world of antiques which touches every aspect of her writing.
Her historical fiction novels ‘Fifteen Postcards‘ and its sequel ‘The Last Letter’ have been described as ‘Time Travellers Wife meets Far Pavilions’, and ‘Antiques Roadshow gone viral’. The third book in the series ‘Telegram Home’ will be released in November 2018 by Accent Press.
Her bestselling gothic horror novel ‘Painted‘ was released in 2017, with her medical thriller ‘Doctor Perry‘ following closely in April 2018.
She lives in New Zealand with her husband, her daughters, an SPCA rescue cat and a kitten found in the neighbour’s shed, and can usually be found procrastinating on Twitter under the handle @kiwimrsmac.
Win a e-book copy of Doctor Perry!
This giveaway will run from today (July 15th) through midnight Eastern US time on July 20th. Winner will be announced/contacted on the 21st. This is the length of the tour. Good luck! Copy will be supplied by Kirsten. Contact info will only be kept for this giveaway.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Today I am taking part in the Blog Blitz for The Serial Dater’s Shopping List by Morgen Bailey. Today Morgen will be sharing about the characters in this novel! Bombshell Books is the publisher.
31 days. 31 dates.
Izzy is a journalist who usually writes a technology column for a Northampton newspaper. Her somewhat-intimidating boss William sets her the task of dating thirty-one men, via an internet dating site, all within a month, and writing about it for the paper.
Having an active, though fruitless, social life with her friend Donna, Izzy knows what she wants in a man, so creates a shopping list of dos and don’ts and starts ticking them off as she meets the men.
Follow the ups and downs of the dating process including Tim ‘the Weeble’, whose date leads Izzy to see banoffee pie in a whole new light, Lawrence the super-skinny social worker, Felix with his bizarre penchant for Persian Piranhas, and ‘the music maestro but don’t talk about dead pets’ Jake.
By the end of the month, will Izzy have met Mr Right?
A laugh-out-loud comedy about the highs and lows of dating.
The main cast…
Our protagonist, Isobel ‘Izzy’ McFarlane, is fairly like me, so much so in fact that my brother calls The Serial Dater’s Shopping List my autobiography! Izzy’s just turned forty – slightly younger than I was when I wrote it, 5’10 –as I am, and quite quiet. She is, however, not timid and gives the guys she meets – who are weird and mostly not so wonderful – as good as she gets.
Through other threads within the novel, the reader meets her family and colleagues – including Izzy’s best friend Donna, and their boss’s fifty-year-old African Grey Parrot ‘Baby’ gets a few mentions.
The ‘dates’ – the main male characters other than Izzy’s boss William and colleague Aunt Agnes (Keith) – were mostly in a Word document of notes I’d built up over the previous months. I could have just picked one to be our ‘hero’ but they were so quirky that I wanted to include them all. I then needed a woman to meet them but she had to have a reason to meet so many in a short time so a journalist popped into my brain, as did Izzy’s name. Having grown up with the aforementioned (geeky) brother, I gave Izzy a technology column, and part of her remit is to create an online dating profile, something I’m (too) accustomed to doing.
Because it’s Izzy’s ‘job’ to meet these men, and while she is single and would like to meet ‘Mr Right’, she’s fairly self-assured and remains quite aloof of her situation, reminding herself that she doesn’t have to get involved when on some occasions it could have been easy to let go.
Apart from its location – Northampton, England, I’m not aware of any dating novels that have quite so many characters. We get to meet most of them only in their chapter so, like someone we talk to at a party and never see again, we get an impression of them – favourable or otherwise, some staying in our minds for longer – and then we (Izzy) move(s) on.
There are few children in this story. Those featured include colleague Karen’s sons (who often test games for Izzy), one of the dates’ sons, and Izzy’s niece, Lola. Lola’s lovely, and so clever. I don’t have children but I have a family next door with a young daughter. While I didn’t base Lola on her, she’s actually now what I imagined Lola to be.
As for the men that Izzy meets, they are definitely quirky, although she quite readily finds fault with many of them, and in most cases rightly so. They say clothes ‘maketh the man’ and two of the most memorable are Nigel the day-glo cyclist, and Eddie the colour-blind traffic light. We also have Tim who eats a ‘platter for two’ as a snack, the complete opposite of so-thin-he’s-hidden-behind-a-pillar Lawrence, and Hunky Dunky, Izzy’s first date. Of course there are more ‘normal’ characters but, just like life, no-one’s perfect.
A story is made up of three main elements: characters, setting and plot. Some may disagree but, to me, characters are the most important. You can have a fascinating plot and / or beautiful or intriguing setting but if the reader doesn’t care what happens to Joe or Joanne then the rest doesn’t matter. We’ve put them up a tree and are throwing rocks at them. How they stop us and get down is why the reader turns the page. Add in a thunder storm or kitten on a branch they can’t reach, then it adds further tension – there’ll always be more than one problem in a novel – and another resolution that the reader will be pleased they stuck with the story to reach.
Characters are rarely representative of one person. Most of a writer’s friends will think – so hope or even ask – that the characters are them, especially the good bits – but we watch television, we listen to the radio, we live life. Always have your notebook, dictaphone or mobile phone handy to capture the bus driver’s, little old lady’s, or screaming child’s traits – you never know when they might make the perfect character.
Who’s your favourite character from another author’s story? Who’s your own?
About the Author:
Morgen Bailey – Morgen with an E – is a multi-genre author, freelance editor, writing tutor, Writers’ Forum magazine columnist, blogger, speaker, and Northants Authors co-founder. The former Chair of three writing groups, she has judged the H.E. Bates, RONE, BeaconLit, BBC Radio 2 and Althorp Literary Festival short story competitions. She also runs her own free monthly 100-word competition and is a forthcoming Flash 500 judge.