Thursday Themes

Thursday Themes – C.J. Sutton

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I’m hugely excited today to have C.J. Sutton visiting my Thursday Themes blog.

I had the privilege of getting a sneak preview of This Strange Hell and am hugely honoured to have my review on the front cover of this brilliant novel.

Over to you now, C.J. to tell us about the themes…

This Strange Hell - cover pic

Thursday Themes – Past Rules Present

How much is your life governed by the past?

Do the events of years prior limit us in the way we behave in the present?

In my new book This Strange Hell, a key theme that links major characters is their inability to escape the past. Set in an Australian country town five hours away from Melbourne, the locals are caught within the net of a violent gang that caused authority to depart through cunning actions and deep pockets. The schools are closed, women have taken children to neighbouring towns and those remaining are forced to tip-toe around this gang while paying a hefty fee to remain untouched by their anarchy.

But the town wasn’t always ruled by iron fists. Sulley Ridge once thrived through the hard work of locals, family values and the drawcard of tourism due to their stunning mountain views. Men with dark hearts then discovered opportunity in hidden land, waving their money and seducing good people. Police tried to stop the rot, but they were no match for a gang without limitations.

Through fear, people can be dictated by their past. Seeing the repercussions of rebellion against people willing to hurt others can keep mouths closed and heads down. But this doesn’t just happen in small towns.

We avoid certain situations because of the past. Some may avoid relationships because of a bad egg, dodge social events because of an instance of supreme embarrassment, or leave a job because of a mistake they cannot forget. Our limits are set by our past, and our fears are driven by our memories.

In my writing I can explore a character’s past without being hindered by my own. I can craft scenarios and confrontations and awkwardness freely. But even in writing, our past can determine character traits and responses. It’s both exciting and terrifying to explore this theme, as the results can be completely unexpected.

In my debut novel, Dortmund Hibernate, I dig as deep as possible. Nine criminally insane inmates, telling their past to a psychologist. Race wars, drug empires, deadly snakes, religion…it’s extreme destruction by individuals with unstable minds. This was when I realised the power of the past in writing; a powerful tool that is the lifeblood of all tales.

Unfortunately, in life, we don’t have the same control.

This Strange Hell by C. J. Sutton –

A suited man runs from a burning tower in Melbourne as bodies rain down upon him.

Before the city’s millions can compose, he boards a train into the countryside. Hiding his identity and changing his appearance, the man finds his way to Sulley Ridge, a lawless town in the heart of the harsh Victorian outback.

The following day, a burned man wakes up in a hospital bed. Surging with rage, he speaks a name. Within an hour, the suited man’s face is across every screen in the country. It’s the greatest manhunt Australia has ever seen.

But as he tries to camouflage in Sulley Ridge, he soon realises the town has its own problems. Under the iron fist of a violent leader, the locals are trapped within slow and torturous decay…

As we learn more about the night of the burning tower, the connection between the suited man and the burned man threatens to leave a trail of destruction across the state.

Here is the story of a man on the run from his past, as the line between sanity and evil is danced upon.

Here is the tale of This Strange Hell.

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About the Author:

C. J. Sutton is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. He holds a Masters in journalism and creative writing, and supports the value of study through correspondence. His fictional writing delves into the unpredictability of the human mind and the fears that drive us.

As a professional writer C. J. Sutton has worked within the hustle and bustle of newsrooms, the competitive offices of advertising and the trenches of marketing. But his interest in creating new characters and worlds has seen a move into fiction, which has always pleaded for complete attention.

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