#SIMTalksWithMiriam

A hearty welcome, please, for C.J. Sutton, author of Dortmund Hibernate and This Strange Hell. He’s travelled a long way to be here. Over to you, CJ.

Taming the Mind

Social anxiety is an issue very close to me. Despite finding techniques to create a confident exterior, being placed in a crowded room or asked personal questions can still cause the heart to beat faster than it should. Many writers, to varying degrees, live with social anxiety. Our ideas thrive in our minds, transferred onto the screen and page for others to see at their leisure without our physical presence. This craft works best in isolation.

C.J. Sutton, authorI learned quite quickly that I could tell a story. But my storytelling needed preparation if I was to be placed on that stage. Put a blank page in front of me and I’ll smash out a short story before the day is out. Replace the page with real faces and the result would not be identical.

Being socially anxious can mean even the most mundane task, such as ordering a meal or getting a haircut, can lead to avoidance. I know people who fear speaking on telephones and attending meetings but will happily hold a snake or ride a rollercoaster. What is the cause? It’s hard to say, because the mind is rogue, and everyone finds fear in a different cave.

The characters I create are constantly in situations I would dread. Being the creator of those scenes allows a unique perspective. One can explore the why and the when, constructing responses that appear resolute. But I am never anxious when I’m writing. Never. 

In my debut novel Dortmund Hibernate, the protagonist is a psychologist tasked with nine criminally insane patients. He faces drug dealers, gangsters, sex addicts, murderers, rapists and all manner of sick minds. In his approach to his patients, this psychologist uses his education and passion for the job to remain calm and seek best solutions. But when having a drink at a bar, this changed. Suddenly, he cares what everyone else thinks of him and the room is suffocating.

This Strange Life by C.J. SuttonIn my new novel This Strange Hell, a main character lives in a town governed by a violent gang and hidden from police patrol. When this gang enters a public place wielding guns and requesting donations, she is a pillar amongst the locals and does what she can to keep her friends at ease. Ten pages later, when meeting a love interest for a meal on her birthday, this same character is trembling and acting out of the norm. She owns guns and works off the land. Informal. When life becomes formal, she starts to crumble.

Social anxiety is different for everybody. Whether it’s crowds, queues, attention or expectation, the feeling of being trapped in that situation can be the equivalent of pain. People may call someone out for being shy or introverted, and they may think that person is rude or uninterested. But within, their hearts are fluttering and terror dawns.

I know social anxiety.

Thank you, CJ. And yes, social anxiety is different for everybody. When I mention having social anxiety, people assume I don’t like doing public speaking or talking to strangers. Neither is true.

THIS STRANGE HELL by C. J. Sutton

A suited man runs from a burning tower in Melbourne as bodies rain down upon him.

Before the city’s millions can compose, he boards a train into the countryside. Hiding his identity and changing his appearance, the man finds his way to Sulley Ridge, a lawless town in the heart of the harsh Victorian outback.

The following day, a burned man wakes up in a hospital bed. Surging with rage, he speaks a name. Within an hour, the suited man’s face is across every screen in the country. It’s the greatest manhunt Australia has ever seen.

But as he tries to camouflage in Sulley Ridge, he soon realises the town has its own problems. Under the iron fist of a violent leader, the locals are trapped within slow and torturous decay…

As we learn more about the night of the burning tower, the connection between the suited man and the burned man threatens to leave a trail of destruction across the state.

Here is the story of a man on the run from his past, as the line between sanity and evil is danced upon.

Here is the tale of This Strange Hell.

Find C.J. Sutton

on his website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

He previously appeared on this blog when he brought Walter Perch along to Letters from Elsewhere.

~~~

Another fascinating letter from elsewhere was written by Dr Eloise Kluft, who was brought by Stephanie Bretherton, author of Bone Lines. This book is now published and available from all the places listed on her website.

~~~

Do you know what Uplift means? I hope to blog about this in a few days. It has connections with my new book, Cultivating a Fuji, out in May.

Letters from Elsewhere

Readers, please welcome Walter Perch to the blog. It sounds as if he needs cheering up and maybe you can help. Walter Perch has come from the pages of Dortmund Hibernate by C.J. Sutton, which will be published by Crooked Cat Books in July 2018.

Dear reader,

My name is Walter Perch. I am a guard up at Dortmund Asylum. You’ve never been to Dortmund. No, it’s not the popular German location. You’ve probably never even heard of this place; a small rural town known only for the crazies on the hill and the animals in our zoo. People get these two institutions confused, and it’s not hard to see why. The nine inmates (and believe me, they’re inmates) would kill you for a hot meal, no two ways about it. I try to avoid their stares, to drown out their voices with earphones blasting rock music, and to limit my inhale to the excretions tossed about their cells. But I am not alone.

Brian, Shirley and Carter are the other full-time guards up here. They look to me, I think, to lead them in some capacity. Carter has been here the longest, but his age (and solid drinking) has started to impact his work. The other day he couldn’t remember if he locked a cell that contained a man your children would tell horror stories about. Lucky for us, he had. Lucky for Dortmund, only two Scotch-coffee cocktails had been consumed that morning.

I don’t much like Dortmund. I’ve lived here most of my life. In the beginning it was a peaceful bubble hours away from the Big City. Now, the only interruptions to my solitude are the faces behind the bars and the sly drinkers at the pub. Maybe I’ll leave soon. I wouldn’t know where to start in the Big City. What does a man like me do in such a place?  

We have a new doctor arriving next week. ‘Dr Magnus Paul’. He sounds fancy, a young hot-shot psychologist who brought someone back from looney town. He’ll have no such luck here. Nobody can save the nine. They’ll live within these dank walls until the skin rots from their bones. And I’ll probably still be walking the corridors, checking in to make sure they’re contained.

I’m writing this, dear reader, because I don’t get to talk much. People are either waiting for a command or asking about one of the nine. Every conversation is business, and the business is death. Humour me, if you will, and read this last paragraph:

What is it like, to attend a football match with family and friends? How does it feel to move in the swell of a crowd, surrounded by concrete buildings pushing through the clouds? When cheers erupt at such a volume, does the ground shake? I watch these games on TV and marvel at the scenes. I picture myself in the midst of it all, just watching normal people chant wildly for those on the field. For those who mean no harm.

Do not pity me, dear reader, for I do not seek your help. I merely ask for words not concerned with nine condemned souls. For when Magnus arrives, it all starts again.

Write me, if you will. Address it to Dortmund Asylum. Nobody else here receives mail, and I would find it quite amusing to see the postman drive up this hill for the first time in years.

Yours sincerely,
Walter Perch

You see, he doesn’t ask for much – just a letter. I’m sure we can all manage that. You know what? I’ll make it easier for you. Write your missives to Walter in the comments and I’ll forward them.

About Dortmund Hibernate

questionmark

Dortmund Hibernate, yet to be covered

Psychologist Dr Magnus Paul is tasked with the patients of Dortmund Asylum; nine criminally insane individuals hidden from the world due to the extremity of their cases. 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. The small rural town of Dortmund and its inhabitants are the backdrop to the mayhem on the hill. 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. And the most notorious man of all is strapped to the floor of his cell, urging Magnus towards a new life of desire…

.

.

About C.J. Sutton

C.J. SuttonC.J. Sutton is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. He holds a Postgraduate Degree 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.

C.J. can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on his website. Happy Australia Day, CJ!