Q and A with Madeline Dyer #Captive

Today I am pleased to welcome back Madeline Dyer to discuss her new book, Captive. This is a collection of poems written while she was experiencing psychosis and OCD due to Autoimmune Basal Ganglia Encephalitis, a rare type of brain inflammation caused by the immune system attacking the brain. Madeline’s previous visit can be found here.

Captive cover

Captive

Title: Captive

Author: Madeline Dyer

Genre: Biography, poetry

Publisher: Ineja Press

Release Date: 14th Jan 2020

Q and A with Madeline Dyer

Hi Madeline. Welcome back to From Under the Duvet to discuss Captive, your poetry collection. You are best known as an author of YA dystopian novels, is poetry a new form of writing for you or did you do it before your illness?

I wrote a little poetry at university, but it’s predominantly a new form for me, and I didn’t intend to write poetry. The therapy writings that I did when suffering from this illness just happened to take this form when I found I needed a way to process what I was feeling, and I suddenly found myself drawn to poetry in a way that I hadn’t previously been. I began reading a lot of poetry collections—moving away from the novels I normally read—and I just became fascinated by the poem as a form.

As my brain inflammation worsened, I found I couldn’t write prose as I had been. I remember reading one of my manuscripts I’d been working on and thinking how it was like someone else had written it. I felt like a different person, one who didn’t know how to write novels, but I now knew how to write poetry. It really did just come to me, just like that. And I’m so glad it did, because writing poetry allowed me to hold onto my identity as a writer.

Captive is a collection of deeply personal poems about your experience of OCD and psychosis, and I feel privileged to have read them. How did you come to the decision to share them?

It was such a tough decision. On the one hand, these are hugely personal poems, and they make me really vulnerable to others. I’ve had a lot of criticism thrown at me in the last year, to do with my illness, and I wrote these poems with no intention of sharing them and giving others something else to use against me.

But then I did share a couple of the poems with a few friends. I can’t remember why I did, but their responses blew me away. They were so encouraging of me sharing these poems publicly and said it really helped them understand the psychological and psychiatric effects of my illness, and they felt that my poems were important to read.

I then talked with a few other people who also have the same type of brain inflammation that I have about the poems I’d written and how I was toying with the idea of publishing them, and they all thought it was a good idea and would help raise awareness. And that’s the goal with this collection: to raise awareness for neuropsychiatric illnesses, such as PANS and Autoimmune Basal Ganglia Encephalitis, especially when they’re rarely diagnosed and little is known about them.

What has the reaction been to them?

The reactions to my poetry collection have been amazing. People have been so supportive and understanding (a lot more than I expected!), while many early reviews paid particular attention to the haunting qualities many of the poems have. This makes me happy as it’s the haunting effects of the illness that I really want to get across.

Who is your favourite poet?

Christina Rossetti.

And your favourite poem?

“Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti.

Autoimmune Basal Ganglia Encephalitis is a rare condition. How are you feeling now?

I’m still awaiting a long-term treatment option, and I’m still suffering with the ongoing effects of the brain inflammation, both neurological and psychiatric. It’s a lot of waiting around, and that can be very distressing and disheartening at times, but I’m in a better place than I was a year ago. I know what’s going on—even if I haven’t got all the answers right now—and I am able to write fiction again, which is a relief.

Your illness affected your love of reading and books as discussed in your blog here. As a reader and writer that must have been difficult to deal with. How is it now?

I am reading again! Admittedly, I still don’t feel quite as comfortable touching physical books as I used to—the brain inflammation gave me contamination OCD and made me throw out most of my books last year as I thought they were all contaminated. I am slowly acquiring new books though, but I still prefer to read on my e-reader, as it feels ‘cleaner’. I’m not sure whether I’ll ever be a huge paperback fan again, which does make me sad. But at least I’m reading again. That’s the important thing.

What was the first book you read when you could?

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus. It was the first paperback book I touched and read too, during the initial stages of my treatment and the start of recovery.

What is the last book you read?

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas. It’s so dark and chilling!

Is there anything you would like people to know about dealing with neuro-psychiatric illness?

That it’s not a choice. Often, people suffering from these illnesses exhibit widely different behaviours, but this is due to our brains being inflamed. We’re not in control of many of our emotions, and it can be difficult for others to understand this and be empathetic.

It’s also a long-term illness in most cases and there’s no quick cure or even any sort of treatment that is guaranteed to be 100% effective. This is a long-term condition, and most of us won’t make a full recovery super quickly. I’ve encountered a few people who seem surprised that I’m “still unwell”, but that’s just the nature of it. It’s been over a year now, and at the moment, I’m at a bit of a standstill as I wait for doctors and specialists to come up with a long-term treatment plan.

Thank you for sharing and good luck with everything.

Thank you!

Author Biography

Madeline Dyer photo

Madeline Dyer

Madeline Dyer lives in the southwest of England, and holds a BA honours degree in English from the University of Exeter. She has a strong love for anything dystopian, ghostly, or paranormal, and can frequently be found exploring wild places. At least one notebook is known to follow her wherever she goes. Her debut novel, Untamed (Prizm Books, May 2015), examines a world in which anyone who has negative emotions is hunted down, and a culture where addiction is encouraged.

Social Media links:
Watch out for my review for Captive tomorrow.
Happy reading!
Love

Q and A: C.R Berry and his Book Million Eyes

Happy New Year! I hope you have a good one with plenty of good books to read.

For  this decades first post I am excited to share something different – C.R Berry has visited to talk about his exciting new book Million Eyes but first here is the information about this exciting sci-fi, conspiracy novel.

Million Eyes Cover Large

Million Eyes

Title: Million Eyes

Author: C.R Berry

Publisher:

Genre: Sci-fi, conspiracy

Blurb for Million Eyes

How do you fight an enemy who has a million eyes?

What if we’re living in an alternate timeline? What if the car crash that killed Princess Diana, the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, and the shooting of King William II weren’t supposed to happen?

Ex-history teacher Gregory Ferro finds evidence that a cabal of time travellers is responsible for several key events in our history. These events all seem to hinge on a dry textbook published in 1995, referenced in a history book written in 1977 and mentioned in a letter to Edward III in 1348.

Ferro teams up with down-on-her-luck graduate Jennifer Larson to get to the truth and discover the relevance of a book that seems to defy the arrow of time. But the time travellers are watching closely. Soon the duo are targeted by assassins willing to rewrite history to bury them.

Million Eyes is a fast-paced conspiracy thriller about power, corruption and destiny.

Purchase Links

http://bit.ly/Million-Eyes

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Million-Eyes-C-R-Berry-ebook/dp/B082QNFPFN

https://www.amazon.com/Million-Eyes-C-R-Berry-ebook/dp/B082QNFPFN

Q and A with C.R Berry

  • Hi C.R Berry. Welcome to From Under the Duvet. Can you tell me a bit about Million Eyes and the world you’ve created for it?

It’s a sci-fi conspiracy thriller set in a world where time travel has been invented (secretly) by a huge global conglomerate called Million Eyes. It’s also a world where many of the conspiracy theories you’ve heard about are true and involved Million Eyes in some way. So, Princess Diana’s death, the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, the replacement of Paul McCartney and Queen Elizabeth I with lookalikes (among many others) all happened because of Million Eyes.

  • So you cover all those conspiracy theories in the novel?

Not all of them. Princess Diana’s death and the Princes in the Tower are in the novel. The conspiracy theories about Paul McCartney and Queen Elizabeth I actually feature in the Million Eyes short stories, which have been published separately by Elsewhen Press as a collection, Million Eyes: Extra Time. It’s free to download in all ebook formats and offers readers an initial insight into the Million Eyes world and its time-travelling villains. This came out in October 2019.

Also, Million Eyes is the first in a trilogy. So there are more conspiracy theories to come in the next two books!

  • As Million Eyes has time travel in it, are you aiming it at sci-fi fans?

Not exclusively, no. I know people who’ve enjoyed Million Eyes who don’t like sci-fi at all. I don’t think the time travel is alienating for people who aren’t into that. I’m hoping it’ll be a bit like Game of Thrones was for non-fantasy fans. GOT had such wide appeal, probably because it told the story through the eyes of normal people with real problems. Million Eyes does the same thing.

  • Are there other authors whose work Million Eyes could be compared to?

I think Million Eyes shares a lot of similarities with Library of the Dead by Glenn Cooper. That was a conspiracy thriller that incorporated real historical events and had an element of fantasy to it. I also think if you’re a fan of Dan Brown, Doctor Who or the TV series 24 (which had a lot of conspiracy thriller elements), you’ll like Million Eyes.

  • Why did you write Million Eyes and what gave you the idea?

Million Eyes came about by meshing together three loves of mine: conspiracy theories, time travel and history. There were three events in history riddled by mystery and conspiracy theory that I wanted to tie together. The probably-not-accidental shooting of King William II in the New Forest, the still-unexplained disappearance of the Princes in the Tower (both of which I learned about at school), and Princess Diana’s car crash, one of the most shocking things to happen while I was growing up.

Inspired in part by a short-lived TV series called Dark Skies, which took real American history and ‘explained what really happened’, I wanted to take these three events in British history and do the same. And since the three events were approximately five hundred years apart, there was really only one way to do that—time travel!

  • Tell us a bit about your main characters, Gregory Ferro and Jennifer Larson.

Ferro’s in his 50s, has a wife and two kids and used to be a history teacher. An incident at his school led him to give up teaching and write history books. He wants to do his best by his family but he’s fiercely dedicated to his work and doesn’t always get his priorities right. This becomes a problem when he starts finding evidence that time travellers were behind the death of William II.

Jennifer’s in her 20s, fresh out of uni, and is working in a call centre because she’s not sure what to do next. She’s hot-headed and she doesn’t always think before she speaks, which sometimes lands her in hot water. She loves history as much as Ferro and, when she learns about his theories, can’t resist reaching out to him.

  • I understand Jennifer’s a lesbian. How common is it to have a gay female protagonist in these kinds of stories?

I’m sure there are some but it’s not common. I don’t think there are enough LGBTQ protagonists full stop. But I should note that Jennifer’s sexuality is really not relevant to her story. She just happens to be gay. It’s normal and it’s a non-issue, which was exactly the point.

I did make an effort to include as many female characters as possible and that’s not just because I enjoy writing women. Nearly all the sci-fi/fantasy/conspiracy books I’ve read have failed the Bechdel Test because women are so thin on the ground. With Million Eyes, I was determined not only that the book would pass the Bechdel Test, but would also contain such an abundance of female characters there could be no question of under representation.

  • Where does your interest in time travel come from?

Star Trek, Doctor Who, Back to the Future, Somewhere in Time, The Butterfly Effect, Looper, Lost… I could go on! I just love the idea of being able to go back in time and see first-hand how things were, or go forwards and see how things might turn out. If it were possible, I’d be a time traveller myself!

  • When is Million Eyes available and where can readers get their hands on it?

Million Eyes is available now from Elsewhen Press in ebook formats. It can be purchased for £2.99 RRP from Apple, Amazon and other eBook platforms. On March 9th, it will be released as a paperback and be available to buy for £9.99 RRP from bookshops and online. I’ll be hosting several book launch events around the time of the paperback release. The first will take place at Waterstones in Farnham on Friday 13th March (Yes, I know—Friday the 13th! It’s a conspiracy!)

Author Biography

Million Eyes Author

C.R Berry

C.R. Berry caught the writing bug at the tender age of four and has never recovered. His earliest stories were filled with witches, monsters, evil headteachers, Disney characters and the occasional Dalek. He realised pretty quickly that his favourite characters were usually the villains. He wonders if that’s what led him to become a criminal lawyer. It’s certainly why he’s taken to writing conspiracy thrillers, where the baddies are numerous and everywhere.

After a few years getting a more rounded view of human nature’s darker side, he quit lawyering and turned to writing full-time. He now works as a freelance copywriter and novelist and blogs about conspiracy theories, time travel and otherworldly weirdness.

He was shortlisted in the 2018 Grindstone Literary International Novel Competition and has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Storgy, Dark Tales, Theme of Absence and Suspense Magazine. He was also shortlisted in the Aeon Award Contest, highly commended by Writers’ Forum, and won second prize in the inaugural To Hull and Back Humorous Short Story Competition.

He grew up in Farnborough, Hampshire, a town he says has as much character as a broccoli. He’s since moved to the “much more interesting and charming” Haslemere in Surrey.

Social Media Links –

Website: https://crberryauthor.wordpress.com

http://millioneyes.co.uk/

https://gregoryferro.home.blog/

https://twitter.com/CRBerry1

https://www.facebook.com/CRBerry1/

Thank you for coming and talking about your book. As a huge fan of Glenn Cooper’s Library of the Dead, it has been added to my TBR and I look forward to hearing more about your series in the future. Good luck with your book launches.

Happy reading!

Love

Meet the Author: Raquel Rich

Meet the Author of Hamartia : Raquel Rich

Ever since I was a child and watched the haunting 1977 film Audrey Rose* as a child I have been fascinated by reincarnation. When a blurb hints at the topic it is instantly placed on my TBR pile so when Hamartia came to my attention I needed to know more. I am pleased and excited announce its author, Raquel Rich is here today to discuss her book, writing and other things.

First, let me introduce the book:

Hamartia-Cover-Perfect-resized

Hamartia Book Cover

Title: Hamartia

Author: Raquel Rich

Genre: Sci-Fi, fantasy

Publisher: Words Matter Publishing

Release date: 15th August 2018

BOOK BLURB:

Grace’s nine-year-old son, Jordan, is dying. First, the Metagenesis disease will tear his soul from his body, and then it will kill him. Desperate for a cure, Grace agrees to take part in an illegal clinical trial cloning souls. Supported by her best friend Kay, the two embark on the ultimate “Vegas Vacation” to the past in search of the right soul to clone, racing against time to save Jordan’s life. But someone is trying to stop them and when they discover why, Grace must make a choice: let her son die or kill her husband. If she kills her husband she triggers widespread Metagenesis, sealing the fate of the human race with a new plague. Humanity is counting on Grace choosing to let her son die.

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hamartia-Raquel-Rich-ebook/dp/B07GJXT4SG/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Meet the Author: Raquel Rich

Welcome Raquel to my blog.

What is your favourite book and who is your favourite author?

I choose books based on what’s popular and am embarrassed to admit that I don’t pay attention to the author. Funny enough, most of my favourite books don’t fall within the genre I write. Book of Negros. Shawshank Redemption. A Thousand Splendid Suns. She’s Come Undone. Cane and Able. Hunger Games. A Million Little Pieces.

Is your writing influenced by the books you have read?

Not “influenced” but “improved”. When reading, I pay close attention to the choices the author makes such as how they weave in backstory and the way they introduce characters and settings. Reading is not only for pleasure, but it’s also part of my job.

Where is your favourite place to read or write?

My reading habits literally change like the weather since my favourite places to read are poolside and at the beach. I plough through books like nobody’s business all summer long, reading more books in Canada’s short summer months than I do the other nine. As for writing, that’s a different story. Every single morning, rain sleet or shine, I write. The location varies from my warm living room to the poolside based on weather, but the habit of sipping a coffee with my laptop in the early mornings remain the same year round.

When did you begin writing and how did being published come about?

As a kid, I loved to write. But when I was twelve, my love of writing came to screeching halt when Lisa, a fictional character in one of my stories, killed herself. The story sparked concern among the authorities who believed it was a cry for help. Unfortunately, the ordeal which ensued killed my love of writing until my mid-thirties. Hamartia was the first thing I had written since my stubborn childhood sabbatical. It took four years to complete and another two to publish. After countless rejections, I entered a writing contest and won (against 200 entries). The grand prize was a traditional publishing deal and the rest is history!

If you have a genre you write, how did you begin writing in this style?

Though the core of Hamartia’s plot came from the idea of reincarnation, specifically, how fears and phobias are the results of how people lived and died in their past lives, writing sci-fi was a choice I made out of laziness. I didn’t have the patience to research diseases and thought it would be easier to invent one. Now I find myself in a pickle as I write the sequel, having weaved a thick web in book one, I’ve come to realize it would’ve been easier to perform open heart surgery than to invent a cure for the disease I made up.

Links:

Raquel’s website: https://www.raquelrich.com/hamartia

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41397476-hamartia

 

Author Biography

DSC_3993

Raquel Rich

Raquel Rich is the author of the award-winning novel, Hamartia. She loves to travel, suntan, walk her dog, and is obsessed with all things Beauty & the Beast. She despises cold weather, balloons, and writing about herself in the third person but noticed all the real authors do that. Born and raised in Canada to Brazilian parents, she lives in the Toronto area with her family. Married to the guy she’s been with since she was fifteen (her baby daddy), her superpowers include being a mom to their two awesome grown-ass boys and one fur baby.

Thank you Raquel for popping over to chat and good luck with your writing.

I am currently reading Hamartia so watch this space for the review.

Happy reading !

Love

*Audrey Rose is now on Netflix. It is based on a hefty tome of a book which is worth reading if you are interested in reincarnation and I still love the film despite its age.