Sunday, 27 March 2016

Guest Post: Psychologist, Writer or Both? by Kate Medina

Today's it's my pleasure to host the final leg on the Fire Damage blog tour with a guest post from author Kate Medina.  I had hoped to also review Fire Damage today but sadly my reading schedule went awry but I did start reading last night so hopefully I'll be able to upload a review in the next couple of days.

While studying for a degree in Psychology, Kate Medina jointed the Territorial Army where she spent five years, first as an officer trainee and then as a Troop Commander in the Royal Engineers. She has an MA in creative writing from Bath Spa University and now writes full time. Her debut novel WHITE CROCODILE (published under the name K.T. Medina) a thriller set in the minefields of Cambodia, received widespread critical acclaim.

When I chose to study for a degree in Psychology more years ago that I would like to admit, I never thought that the first time I would use that knowledge properly, beyond a passing analysis of someone I’d come in social contact with, was when I became a crime writer.  I love analyzing people and it was this interest in the ‘whys’ of human behaviour that led me to study psychology in the first place.  I am also very drawn to people who have a different psychology from my own, whether that is in terms of mass cultural beliefs or individuals who, perhaps because of their upbringing or life experiences, display an abnormal psychology.

My debut novel White Crocodile, was driven by personal experience: time I spent working in Cambodia with mine clearers and also my experience as a Territorial Army Troop Commander in the Royal Engineers.  When it came to thinking about my second novel - the novel that became Fire Damage - the first in what hoped would be a series, it really made sense to me to use my expertise as a psychologist, and so twenty-nine-year-old clinical psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn was born.  In common with me, it was Jessie’s need to understand human behaviour that drove her to become a clinical psychologist, and yet there are huge swathes of her own personality that she struggles to understand, let alone to control.

In Fire Damage, Jessie who works with the Defence Psychology Service is counselling a deeply traumatised four-year-old boy, Sami Scott, whose father, a Major in the Intelligence Corp, was badly burnt in a petrol bomb attack in Afghanistan.  Sami is terrified of someone he calls ‘The Shadowman’ and tells Jessie that ‘the girl knows’.  But there are no girls in Sami’s life.  Sami also carries a huge black metal Maglite torch with him wherever he goes, clutching onto it like a loved teddy bear.  Sami’s parent insist that his trauma stems from seeing his badly burnt father in hospital and that Nick Scott is ‘The Shadowman’, but Jessie feels that that something far darker explains Sami’s trauma.

Psychology is such an interesting subject and so relevant to the crime novel.  Jessie Flynn’s profession enables me to explore crime from a uniquely psychological perspective, not only the criminal’s motivation, thoughts and feelings, but also the victims and the investigators – Jessie herself and the other key characters in the series, Captain Ben Callan and Detective Inspector Bobby ‘Marilyn’ Simmons of Surrey and Sussex Major Crimes.  

To find a killer, she must unlock a child’s terror…

The first in an exciting new crime series featuring psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn – a brilliantly complex character who struggles with a dark past of her own. Perfect for fans of Nicci French and Val McDermid.

‘The girl knows,’ he whispered…

Four-year-old Sami is deeply traumatized, and it’s up to psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn to unlock his terrifying memories. She needs to find out who ‘the girl’ is – but nothing can prepare her for the truth about what haunts him.

Meanwhile, Jessie’s former patient, Captain Ben Callan, is investigating the suspicious death of an officer in Afghanistan – the problem is the only suspect refuses to talk.

When a dead body washes up on a Sussex beach, Jessie and Ben’s cases converge. Soon it’s clear that the mystery in Afghanistan began with a secret much closer to home. And a desperate killer will do anything to keep it buried…

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