Where I live in the mountains of Panama, the only change of season we see is from rainy to dry. This begins to take place in November. There’s a shift in the wind and the town braces itself for the Fiestas Patrias (Panama’s Independence Days). Strings of small plastic flags crisscross the streets and flap with a smacking sound as if applauding you whenever you drive beneath them. Grey clouds hover above the town as barjareque, (not quite rain, but heavier than mist) falls on the tourists and marching bands, covering them with a sparkling layer of microscopic droplets.
November also signals National Novel Writing Month, which I first participated in 2012. I had been wanting to write a novel my whole life, and the only thing that forced me to get a book started and finished was NaNoWriMo.
I completed my first ever book, surprising myself and triggering an addiction to finishing books ever since. Now when the winds of November change and I hear the echoes of the marching bands practicing for the Independence Day parades, I feel like a horse at the starting gate ready to race to my word count with all the other bucking writers.
I think anyone who’s participated in National Novel Writing Month start to look forward to it as a yearly tradition. It’s something to get excited about, and you are not alone in your enthusiasm and anxiety. You can connect with other writers who are on the same crazy train. NaNoWriMo helps to stop the usual procrastinating and put writing first for a whole month.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to participate in the last few years. My job consists of mostly writing now and my creative juices and tolerance for sitting at the computer are wiped out by the time I finish my work for the day. I’m often traveling during this time for the holidays, which makes it difficult to scurry off to some quiet place to write.
I also don’t allow myself to participate because have to stop piling up manuscripts. It’s becoming a problem. I wrote three novels in a mad dash and they are still left rumpled up and tossed aside like piles of dirty laundry on the floor. I have no business writing more Nano novels until I clean these up, right?
But I wonder… just because I wrote them, does that mean they should be published? Is it worth salvaging them? These were my first practice novels, before The Sick Series, when I had no idea what I was doing. Hell, I don’t even know if I should’ve released Sick on the world. I can just leave these drafts in some dark corner of my Dropbox and begin something with my new writing experience. Jack Kerouac’s debut novel was lost until 2011, and thank god it was because it was deemed sophomoric and might have barred him from the literary world.
Self-mutilation. Think about that word. What first comes to mind?
In The Sick Series, most readers will find John Branch’s self-mutilation horrific and incomprehensible. He is deceitful, manipulative, and selfish, but his compulsions and desires are the spawn of self-hatred, neglect, and lack of love. What do you think we should do with a man like John Branch? Most people would probably say he should be locked up, put on meds, and forced into therapy.
But what is the difference between what John Branch does to his body and what happens under the plastic surgeon’s knife? Women and men who want attention from the opposite (or same) sex, are willing to get sliced and chopped and patched back together. They risk infection and death and deformity. They will stick foreign objects inside their bodies. Think about that. Slicing open your skin, sticking a foreign object inside, and sewing it up.
Swaths of flesh are removed to tuck the tummy. Nipples are cut out and placed elsewhere. Fat is violently vacuumed from asses. We aspire to self-love and self-acceptance and but our behavior show just how fragile our sanity is.
This book is dedicated to the freaks and misfits, the broken and the scarred,
the ones who live in hiding and the ones who live out loud,
those who are frightened and those who are brave.
Love yourself. Grow freely.
You are beautiful and you are not alone.
Pain. Most of us go through great lengths to avoid it, numb it, or bury it. While writing The Sick Series, I spent hours researching one of the most gruesome and disturbing compulsions known to humankind – to mutilate oneself.
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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It’s official! Yesterday, after a grueling eight straight hours of revisions, I delivered SICK Part III to my courageous editor, Candace Johnson. This book put me through a painful labor. I began writing it almost one year ago. It think it was more difficult than the first two parts of the series for several reasons.
- I wanted to create an epic ending for my readers.
- I wanted to create an epic ending for myself.
- I wanted to give my characters the finale they deserved.
- I wanted the story to have depth and meaning.
- Life got in the way of writing.
I plan to put SICK Part III on preorder for 1/2 price by the end of the week.
The official release date will be in the middle of April 2017.
Join my author mailing list
to be notified as soon as it’s available for the preorder discount.
Thanks to everyone for being so supportive and patient. I don’t think SICK fans will be disappointed!
I’ve left you a little draft of the cover to get you in the mood. I’d love to know what you think of it.
Today we’re going to be beaming the spotlight down on another one of our incredible †3Dark authors: Christa Wojciechowski.
It’s an honour to have Christa involved in the project. I’ve been a fan of her fiction for while, ever since I read the first book of her Sick series of novellas.
Here’s an extract of a review I wrote for Sick:
‘Sick is a brilliant novella that explores the nature of human dependency and self-deception. The voice of the protagonist, Susan, is crystal clear and never wavers throughout, drawing you completely into her world and her way of thinking. This voice also generates a fantastic sense of dramatic irony, leading to a genuine tension. We want our heroine to realise the truth but her antagonist is convincingly devious. Normally, novels in which there is a truth evident to the reader but not the characters can be frustrating, but Sick manages to remain compelling and true to its characters throughout. Most importantly of all, however, this novella triumphs because it is so psychologically insightful.’
What’s unique about her approach to horror is the genuinely in-depth explorations of mental illness, addiction and relationships. While so many horror authors pander to the stereotypes of mental illness or psychosis as something to be feared and abhorred, Christa is more empathetic, getting to the roots of it, and exploring it in a nuanced way. As such, her characters are frighteningly three-dimensional, to the extent that we feel we can inhabit them.
And that’s where the real horror comes in.
In two ways, really.
Firstly, we feel empathy for their fear, their uncertainty. We feel we can relate to it at a primal level.
Secondly, and even more powerfully, it challenges the binary perception of mental illness as something some people have and some don’t. We’re all susceptible to moments of aberrant behaviour, irrational thought or delusion, and Sick really made me feel how fragile the self-constructed perception of my well-being was, and how easily I could fall into the addicted trap of her protagonist Susan. Some writers create aesthetically sensational larger-than-life characters, but Christa’s work is much in the vein of Stephen King: the extraordinary – in both the good and bad sense – can be found in the most ordinary, real people.
As a generous offer to followers and supporters of †3Dark Christa has put Sick Part I and Part II for FREE on Amazon today!
Christa is currently working on a new series The Sculptor of New Hope, partly inspired by the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini (The Rape of Proserpina). She describes it as: ‘a dark, gothic romance that begins in New England and ends up right here in Panama.’ Bernini’s work happens to include many of my favourite sculptures, capturing the impossible sensuality of flesh in marble. The Rape of Proserpina, harrowing as that title is, is one of the most astonishing pieces of art you’ll ever see.
If you want to find out more about Christa and her work, you can read the incredible interview she did with Storgy magazine. Christa’s †3Dark story will feature in our July slot. I just can’t wait to see what dark wonders she unleashes on us.
Adieu for now