This review originally posted on BookViral.com
A powerful and gritty novella that plumbs the highs of hope and the depths of despair, Sick proves a genuine page-turner with Wojciechowski delivering an extraordinary read. With relentless momentum we are drawn to her narrative as intrigue mounts, feeling sure there is a twist coming but deftly misdirected as events spin further out of control. Mining the darkness of the hidden psyche to show us a glimpse of a reality few will ever experience to leave us deep in thought, it’s an ambitious theme to tackle in a novella but here it works in Wojciechowski’s favour. Her prose are tightly spun and characters are superbly nuanced with dialogue which brings an unrelenting sense of immediacy, telling her story in short staccato bursts that are just enough to bait us and keep us off balance as Susan grapples with the uncertainty of Johns downward spiralling health. Like most issue novels, this is not an easy read, but it becomes increasingly poignant and transcendent as Susan begins to see through the veil of deceit the real John has hidden behind.
Wojciechowski has clearly set out to write a highly compelling story that brings the trauma of Factitious disorder (formerly known as Munchausen Syndrome) into focus and her ability to tell a story that is so dark and full of pain speaks volumes to her talent as a writer. Highly original, it is recommended without reservation.
Thanks to Book Viral for their review of Sick Part I.
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Why I Wrote Sick – Dreams often set the tone for my day. I have vivid dreams that feel just as real as the fact that I’m siting here writing this blog. They form a vapor around me as I go about my normal life – whispers, impressions, and lingering emotions. I’ve always had the ability to overlay fantasy over reality (or the other way around), and I try not to box-in my perception. I think our human brains have room to grow if we let them, and I keep my idea of reality is very loosely defined (Carlos Castaneda and psychedelic drug use could have a part in this). Sometimes this swirling imagery makes me anxious because I feel like I don’t have anything solid to hold onto. But, most of the time it’s wonderful to experience life on so many levels.
My dreams and visions are especially important to my writing. Antoni Azarov came to me in a dream years ago. His presence felt like a shadow, mute and timeless, blocking out the rest of the world. When I looked up into his eyes, I felt jarring sensation underneath my ribcage. I will never forget his determined stare. He would not take no for an answer, so when it came time to write my first novel, I knew it was he who had to be the sculptor.
John Branch, the character in SICK, I met more recently. He didn’t have a name yet in the dream, but he was a beautiful and manic version of a young John Lithgow. I hadn’t seen John Lithgow movie in years! So I’m not sure why suddenly my brain conjured him up as this sick man. It still cracks me up to this day, but John Lithgow is perfect for him. Anyway, I wasn’t myself in the dream either. I was another woman, his wife, and I was a shorter, more grounded and level-headed sort of person. I was a person with faith in God.
I remember the dream house with the same familiarity as my own real home, but this place was decrepit and neglected. I had difficulty getting around the clutter and mess everywhere. The silent white light of autumn glowed from the windows. The wooden floors creaked as I approached the bed. My husband lay there limp and motionless; a smell was diffused into the air by the warmth of his body. It was pungent from the dried blood, antiseptic, and medicine, but also sweet and overripe from his clammy skin, his healing wounds, and his sickly breath. I remember that most from the dream, my husband’s smell. It fills my nose right now as I write this. His broken leg was in a cast; the rest of his body was covered in bruises. The soiled sheets clung to him, incubating him. If you’ve ever been around a very ill or badly hurt person, you will know that sickly smell of a healing or dying body.
He then asked me for pain medication, a shot of Demerol. I remember that although he looked anemic and weak, there was an underlying menace that made me uneasy. I sensed that behind his sweet requests, he was mocking me. I was a little bit resentful and a little bit fearful at the same time. It was just a flash of negative emotion, and then my reason blotted it out.
I felt foolish and guilty for thinking about him in that way. I was a good wife, and this was my husband, whom I had been with for years. We knew each other inside and out, didn’t we? And he loved me, and I loved him. No matter how much of a burden he was, I would take care of him forever. I gave him his shot, and smoothed the damp hair from his forehead.
The dream continued and I viewed the whole story to a shocking and revolting end. When I woke up, I just couldn’t shake it off. His watery-eyed stare. And my fear. The eerie fog of it snuck up on me for weeks. The experience clawed at me and wouldn’t let go.
I entertained the thought of writing it down. “Oh, yeah. Maybe I should write that as a book one day.” It wasn’t really my style, or so I thought. I never wrote anything like it before, but the scene just wouldn’t leave me alone. Then I researched the medical condition I was treating in the dream and discovered John Branch’s situation was real. I couldn’t believe it! I knew I had to write it.
So, I never set out to write a creepy suspense. I didn’t invent the plot or the characters. It was all handed to me by my subconscious. That’s the story behind SICK. Strange, but true.
Have you ever had a dream that just wouldn’t let you go?
Do you write or create from ideas based on dreams?
What role do dreams play in your waking life?
I’m happy to say my dream experiment worked out.
SICK is getting great reviews!
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PS: Part II is in revisions and coming very soon. Stay tuned!
My little sister wrote me a blurb for SICK.
By Tia Wojciechowski
“DARE YOURSELF TO READ…
By Christa Wojciechowski
John Branch has been sick all his life, which eventually makes him sick of his life. He wants Susan, his devoted wife of 10 years, to assist him with committing suicide. Susan refuses to let John die, no matter how excruciating his pain and suffering gets.
Meanwhile, Susan has been slowly killing herself. She gave up on the idea of pursuing any dreams and aspirations in her own life. She gave up on her health and well-being. She even gave up on being an individual person. Her life was fully consumed by caring for her husband, and keeping him alive.
After 10 years, John and Susan can’t go on like this for much longer. Everybody has a breaking point. Is this marriage based on true unconditional love, or a sick-in-the-head obsession?
Get the phone number to your nearest available shrink. Grab yourself a good, sturdy barfbag. Then sit back, relax, and enjoy…”
SICK is free today. Download your copy.
Tia is a brilliant aspiring children’s and young adult author. Her website is coming soon! Stay tuned. In the meantime, Follow Tia on Twitter.
What do you say when a book reviewer suspects that one of your characters is mentally retarded? (when he’s not)
Check out this review of SICK from Yecheilyah Ysrayl on The PBS Blog.
(Psst… SICK, a psychological suspense, is free today and tomorrow. Get your copy here.)
AR Rivera says,
“These two are a match made in heaven. Or hell.
A couple unlike any other for sure.”
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Susan Branch’s life revolves around the care of her charming and inscrutable husband John, a man who lost his family’s fortune when his mysterious chronic illnesses left him bedridden. Together they live a decrepit existence beholden to the current owners of his family’s former estate.
After years of devoting herself to John’s care, Susan is worn out and frustrated. Yet she is determined to scrape together whatever resources she can to keep John as comfortable and as happy as possible. This includes stealing Demerol from the doctor’s office where she works to feed John’s ever-increasing need for pain medication.
As John’s condition continues to puzzle doctors, Susan begins to notice strange objects appearing around her house. Ever wary of the creepy groundskeeper, Susan decides to confront the elderly man and put an end to his snooping for good.
John suffers a critical emergency, but he is saved by his skillful doctor and is soon released from the hospital. As his health begins to improve, Susan dreams of a normal life, but her hope for a miracle transforms into a nightmare one fateful afternoon when she discovers the true cause of John’s sickness.
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Thanks to my beta readers, my blog/social media followers, my family, and my editor Candace Johnson for helping me get my speed publishing project done. And thanks in advance for any reblogs or shares. XOXOXO