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.
As my blog is called Story About A Girl I asked C J Sutton to tell me a story….
So over to C J….
Losing my Mind
Travelling alone through South East Asia in 2013 shaped me as a person and as a writer. As a 25-year-old questioning what was next, I did that typical “stranger in a strange land” trip to see what I was missing out on. I would consider myself as a bit of an introvert (most writers are) but travelling alone means you either eat at the table yourself while everyone looks at you, or you join the table that looks at everyone else. I tried both. You learn a fair amount about a person, watching them eat. While I made new friends, travelling alone lets you see things that you wouldn’t normally see. The reactions of people, their psychology. It was like being a video camera on legs.
There was a day in Cambodia where I was dropped off outside a temple by a driver that couldn’t speak a word of English. As I walked beneath the towering trees, there was not a single soul around me. Usually at these temples there are hundreds of tourists climbing structures and taking photos with their fingers in a peace sign; but on this day, I was alone. It was eerie at first, but after twenty minutes it became soothing. I sat up against a tree, deep within the temple grounds, and just wrote. I probably spent a good three hours in that spot until a kid scared the living shit out of me. We’ve got it all wrong, working in offices from 9-5 expecting the best of ourselves to come out on screen. Sometimes you just need that pure solitude to discover your worth and to validate your ideas.
On a day in Malaysia I ventured to the Batu Caves, a very popular tourist spot littered with thousands of people and monkeys. Groups were taken into the caverns, but I waited until nobody was watching and went alone. I kept about 20 metres away from a leader holding a torch to still have a source of light. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, so when he turned off the torch I was surrounded by complete darkness. Not the darkness of when you hop into bed and turn off the lamp, but pure gut-wrenching darkness for more than ten minutes. My phone had died so I was at the mercy of the man with the powerful torch. I couldn’t walk, as on either side there was a vast drop. It’s funny what the mind does when you’re presented with endless nothing. It’s as though your eyes are closed and you can’t open them. It’s blindness, and it was fear. It assisted in creating the characters in Dortmund Hibernate, to know how a lack of control feels. I would also add the Cu-Chi tunnels in Vietnam to this sensation. That feeling of claustrophobia still haunts me. Being underground at a height that you need to bend at right angles to remain upright, blocked on either side by people, that pure darkness finding a way within once more…
Cambodia hangs heavy with a history of evil dictators. Seeing the skulls of slain Cambodians and the marks on the trees where babies were beaten demonstrates the hatred of man. I craft sick minds in my writing. I need to see the capabilities of evil not just on screen, but in person. This trip provided countless examples of humans doing horrible things to other humans. If you ever want to learn about evil, I suggest you venture to the killing fields.
While my education and love of reading is credited for my life as a writer, this experience as a curious 25-year-old sharpened the edges of my craft. It may not have impacted my words or my stories, but it altered the way I write people and atmosphere. Not all is rosy, not all is sane. This world has dark pockets that are completely accessible to tourists, but it is what they take out of it that matters. This trip will never be forgotten, and I still drift to it in my quieter moments. One day I hope to write a book on some of the crazier parts of those few months, but for now Dortmund Hibernate will serve as a reference for darkness.
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.
Buy CJ Sutton’s book here