Recently, I finished reading a book that had me hooked from the moment I turned the first page. Father of Lies by Sarah England fascinated me in many ways enough that I just had to invite the author to my Blog to talk about the inspiration behind this chilling read, but before I hand centre stage to Sarah, here is my review…
An edge of your seat page turner. Father of Lies is a gripping tale that will send shivers trickling down your spine whilst you root for Ruby and the professional staff. I have recommended this book to several of my friends and cannot wait for another full length publication from Ms England. A brilliant read!
Thank you for inviting me onto your blog, Pauline. I am so glad you enjoyed Father of Lies, and am very happy to talk about what inspired this creepy supernatural horror!
I have been a writer for many years, mostly short stories and serials for magazines; but also had a collection of thrillers – ‘3am and Wide Awake’ – and a comedy novel, ‘Expected’ out with relatively small publishers. However, a couple of years ago several factors came together – I met a lady who had what used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder (now known as Disassociative Identity Disorder) and was deeply affected by her story. I also had a background as a nurse followed by many years in medical sales, specialising in psychiatry. My job entailed setting up conferences for psychiatrists, and I became very interested in schizophrenia and psychosis in particular. You get to hear the most breath-taking stories! Nothing though, absolutely nothing, as shocking and disturbing as the life of a person living with DID. Many of these people are also mediums or clairvoyants too, which is how I began to think up my character, Ruby.
I guess if you add to this my unhealthy interest in the occult and tarot readings, you can imagine how the story started to take shape! On top of that, Father of Lies is set in the bleak Derbyshire moors, near to where I spent most of my life, and where I lived for many years in an old blacksmith’s cottage next to a water mill, which was quite definitely haunted. So now I had my backdrop. I knew how it felt to lie in a bedroom with thousands of gallons of fresh water rushing past from the moors above me. Knew how dark the forest was at night, and how the light could be extinguished in an instant. And I also knew how it felt to hear tapping in the walls and whispering in the corners…
At that point I decided to make the book as frightening as possible. And so then came the research – books on demonology by Ed and Lorraine Warren, exorcisms by a Catholic priest, and pioneering psychiatry. Some of these books were so terrifying I could really only read them a little at a time and always in daylight. You might ask why I wanted Father of Lies to be so scary? Well, I’d read so many horrors and been left thinking, so what? I suppose I wanted to pack a punch. And more than that, these survivors – without giving the game away too much – like Ruby, who manage to come through their experiences, have endured far more than we can ever imagine, and in my view deserve their story being told. I hope, in some small way it does some good, because there’s an element of truth in here, which only goes to make it all the more horrifying.
Photos attached! **
Synopsis and extract if wanted….
With no known identity or family, Ruby is the most aggressive and unresponsive psychiatric patient ever to be treated at Drummersgate forensic hospital, after attempting murder in a desolate northern mining village on the bleak Derbyshire moors.
After nearly two years with no improvement, Psychiatrist Jack McGowan, decides to try something radical in order to discover the root of her trauma. The staff are exhausted and agree to his idea - using hypnosis in conjunction with LSD.
The results are catastrophic. For Jack. His team. And his family.
However, Ruby makes a miraculous recovery - now displaying clear symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder, which involves switching from one deeply disturbing character to another. Jack had planned to be able to treat her at this stage. Instead, he’s suffering from a bizarre type of mental breakdown - rushing around giggling to himself, cancelling his own appointments before turning up for them, and having horrific nightmares. At least he thought they were nightmares - but as the darkness takes on a pulsating, breathing life of its own, he’s no longer sure.
Meanwhile, DID expert in Leeds, Dr. Kristy Silver, has a client with an almost identical profile to Ruby – a boy who grew up in Woodsend, the same mining village in which Ruby attempted murder. Perhaps there is a connection? Kristy decides to investigate further with a proposed visit to Ruby; and on the way home that evening she decides to visit Woodsend.
From that point on, unnerving events escalate: Kristy has an unwanted, gruesome passenger in her car; back at the hospital Jack has barricaded himself inside his office; and Becky the ward sister, has a sudden and violent accident.
Every mental health professional involved in the case then goes on to experience some kind of inexplicable and de-stabilising incident, and soon a terrifying picture begins to unfold. One which challenges the very fabric of society, and those in whom we put our trust. One which leads us directly back to the heart of darkness, and the Father of Lies.
Extract from ‘Father of Lies’:
The treatment room had been designed for both relaxation and safety. From the large, double glazed window there was a breathtaking view of wild moorland, painted that day in a glory of purple heather. Clouds scudded across the sky, a weak winter sun chasing shadows over jutting rocks, a kestrel hovering with fluttering, shrouded wings.
Jack pulled the blinds, and slats of crystal light filtered onto the walls. Next to his armchair there was a panic button; and high on the walls, tiny blue lights inside the cameras signified he and his client would be observed by security staff.
Overhead, fluorescent tubes fizzed and bulky radiators thumped out suffocating heat. There were no other sounds, save for the wind buffering the solid walls and occasionally rattling the windows.
A small comfortable sofa had been placed beside the window, and in the far corner of the room there was a desk and another chair. A couple of Monets broke the monotony of magnolia paintwork. And the whole room smelled of floor polish.
Ruby sat curled up on the sofa like a small child with her knees drawn up to her chest, holding tightly onto Becky’s hand. Only the slight judder of her legs and the occasional tic in her jaw, gave away the use of anti-psychotic drugs.
Jack sat down. “Are you feeling okay, Ruby?”
Barely perceptibly, she nodded.
He raised an eyebrow. Exchanged a look with Becky. This was not her usual behaviour. Normally Ruby would be eyeing him suspiciously, recoiling visibly, and kicking if he got too close.
Today though, she appeared to be almost inhumanly calm, gazing at the far wall with her pale blue eyes unfocused and glassy. Not really there, Jack thought. Far, far away…
Who knew when the monster would leap out of that tranquility, though? They’d all been caught out before. She could switch in a heartbeat.
“Ruby, you know we want to help you, don’t you?”
“Thing is - I have something new I’d like to try. Is that okay with you?”
Then faintly, oh so faintly…Jack strained his ears… there came the silvery humming of an old nursery rhyme, as if it had arrived on a mystical breeze from a time long, long ago…‘Four and twenty blackbirds…’
Fairy-like, he recalled later, a tinkling, ethereal tune, which gradually increased in strength and volume as he explained about the tiny dose of LSD and the gentle hypnosis technique he’d like to try. Anytime she wanted to stop or if she became too distressed, he would bring her out of it. And Becky would be with her the whole time.
The humming grew ever louder. He glanced at Becky. This wasn’t going to work, was it? She was blocking him out.
Then suddenly it stopped. Ruby turned and looked at him with a clear, somewhat challenging expression. Snatched and swallowed the proffered tablet with a glass of water. Folded her arms across her chest and waited.
A sharp gust of wind shook the window.