R.J. Bathgate: The hardest part of being an author is finding time to write, from the busy schedule that is everyday life, utilising that time correctly i.e. having a set amount of hours to get as much writing done as possible, without actually forcing it out, and being creative simultaneously.
M.J. Hall: Worrying about whether creativity is going to flow, if the idea in your head that sounded great when you first thought it will actually work when it’s written down. Editing is difficult, too, but thankfully we have an excellent editor who is on the same wavelength as us, and understands exactly where we’re coming from.
Can you give us a short synopsis of Darkview: Psychosis?
Darkview: Psychosis tells the story of Jack Cyrus – a man with nothing to lose. After his wife and unborn child are taken from him by cancer, he is plagued with demonic visions of a tortured past and subsequently given the label of paranoid schizophrenic. On the sixth anniversary of his wife’s death, he receives a cryptic, hand-written letter claiming to be from Chloe, his deceased wife, saying she’s still alive and in pain. She begs Jack to return to the place she spent her last days: Darkview, a small coastal town in the Scottish Highlands – where they both grew up. Jack knows that dead people can’t write letters, but desperate to hold on to any chance she’s still alive, sets off for the Highlands.
Jack makes two simultaneous journeys to Darkview – one in reality and one in his mind. In reality, Jack meets various characters who either help or hinder him and he must piece together various clues to find the truth. In his mind, he also meets various characters – each a representative of his troubled soul, which he must deal with to progress mentally, and rediscover his long lost sanity. Only when Jack can piece together all the clues and reconcile his troubled soul, can he reveal the true circumstances behind the death of Chloe, his wife.
What inspired you to write this book?
R.J. Bathgate: When I lived in Canada twelve years ago, I hitchhiked from Vancouver to a small town in Alberta, called Hope (where Rambo First Blood was filmed). I sat on an old wooden bench, it was cold, dark, and the area was engulfed by an eerie mist and a bright Hunter’s Moon reflecting off a nearby lake. It felt really peculiar and eerie, like nothing I’d ever seen before.
I looked across the street and saw a line of immaculate houses that all looked clean and pristine. However on the opposite side of the street, the buildings were all decrepit and hanging off a cliff due to a mudslide. The embankment had been washed away by the river below, causing the houses to break away and become distorted. It was like looking at a dark, mirror image. It was this contrasting vision: clean, immaculate houses on one side, and broken, ruined ones on the other, which inspired me to research mental health issues and create a character with a split mind – Jack Cyrus, the protagonist of Darkview.
Over the years, I’ve been influenced by writers such as Stephen King and Wilbur Smith, and numerous thriller and horror films. Jack is loosely based on the character, Randal P. McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest, and Jack Torrance from The Shining. There’s also a bit of Bryan Mills and Sam Childers – Liam Neeson’s and Gerald Butler’s characters from Taken and the Machine Gun Preacher respectively.
M.J. Hall: Darkview was originally set in Canada, but it could have been anywhere in the United States or Canada. When R.J. asked me to come on board, I suggested we set the story in Scotland against the backdrop of Scottish History, or something like that. R.J. thought it was a great idea and we set about creating the world of Darkview. It’s a bit of a cliché, but you write about what you know, so setting the story in Scotland seemed a natural thing to do, seeing as we’re both Scottish. The history is Scottish and the humour is definitely Scottish!
How many hours a day do you spend writing?
About four to six hours a day. When we were writing Darkview, we would chill-out by watching a movie at eight o’ clock in the evening, to get ourselves in the mood, start writing at about ten, and then carry on until two or three in the morning.
Name your top 5 books.
The Shining – Stephen King
Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
Pet Semetary – Stephen King
Eye of the Tiger – Wilbur Smith
Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri
IT – Stephen King
Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
World Without End – Ken Follett
Labyrinth – Kate Mosse
Fatherland – Robert Harris
What are you working on now?
R.J. Bathgate: The next book in the Darkview series and I’m writing an action/gangster thriller called ‘I am Reaper’.
M.J. Hall: The next Darkview book, and I’m also co-writing a young adult fantasy book with D.G. Solomon, about a young boy being bullied at school, who finds a magical fantasy land, called Solgoda, which has talking animals and unicorns. It’s sort of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe meets the Never Ending Story.
Title: Darkview: Psychosis
Author: R.J. Bathgate & M.J. Hall
Genre: Psychological Thriller / Horror
Take a journey into the disturbed, delusional mind of Jack Cyrus … take a journey into Darkview … a small, remote coastal town, deep within the Scottish Highlands. The sleepy, isolated spot bears a sinister, horrific history, shrouded by a chilling secret. A secret one man must unveil, which will ravage his soul … and sanity!
Jack Cyrus is in damnation! After witnessing the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, he has become plagued by dark memories and devilish visions, the result of post traumatic stress. Compounding his trauma, he is faced with the sudden death of his wife, from cancer, after returning home to Scotland. Lost and alone, and struggling to forget the horrific circumstances surrounding her passing, Jack has developed schizophrenia, experiencing chaotic, disturbed thoughts and demonic hallucinations.
On the sixth anniversary of his wife’s death, Jack receives a cryptic, hand written letter from her, telling him she is still alive. Suffering and held captive, she pleads with him to return to Darkview, the place she spent her last days, and rescue her from purgatory. Upon arrival in Darkview, strange things start happening, and what appears to be a centuries old mystery, starts unravelling itself. Jack must piece together the clues and lost fragments of his sanity to solve the unravelling mystery. Is any of it real, or is it just a manifestation of Jack’s mind, or another facet of his schizophrenia
R.J. Bathgate, born and bred in Scotland, is the creator and co-author of Darkview: Psychosis. A father of two, and enormously proud of his heritage, he has studied psychology, social sciences, and is currently working towards an advanced diploma in psychotherapeutic counselling and hypnotherapy. His heart lies with new experiences and an interest into the unknown, particularly with writing. He has travelled the world from the dusty, wildlife-filled plains of Zambia, to the glaciers of Alaska, and the soaring peaks of the Canadian Rockies. He is extremely fond of NHL ice hockey, video games, good films, fine wine, and Jack Daniels. He originally wrote Darkview as a screenplay when living in Canada, but upon returning to Scotland, researched mental health issues, namely psychosis and schizophrenia. Inspired by this research, he brought in his lifelong friend, M.J. Hall, to help create a more realistic take on Darkview. The result is a story that combines traditional Scottish history with real life, catastrophic world events, told through the eyes of the protagonist, Jack Cyrus.
M.J. Hall was born in Stockport, Greater Manchester, at the turn of the eighties. Despite being born in England, he identifies more with his ‘adopted’ country, Scotland – he’s lived there since he was four, and his late maternal grandfather was Scottish, too. He presently lives in Edinburgh and is currently studying Environmental Science at the Open University, but has always dreamed of a career in music or writing, or both. He is vegetarian, loves animals (especially cats) and is devoted to his black and white moggy, Tahlula. He humbly admits being just a small voice in a big chorus, and his life changed for the better, or at least would never be the same, when his lifelong and best friend – R.J. Bathgate – invited him to collaborate on Darkview.