I like to play with my nightmares. Whenever I have a bad dream – something strange or disturbing – I write it down, sometimes in the middle of the night when everyone else is sleeping. The idea for Coma House was one such nightmare – one that returned to me, frightened me and fascinated me for months – and I soon felt compelled to develop it into a weaving narrative that delves into the contradictions of human nature and the mysteries of consciousness itself.
By drawing on my fears of betrayal, loss of personal control and of death itself, I created an elegant, emotionally-charged storyline with relationships and personal conflicts people will identify with. We are taken on an authentic journey deep into the mind of a young woman called Natasha who seems to have it all, but who suddenly and inexplicably becomes lost in the most surprising place possible – her own mind – and where her family, the very people who are meant to love and protect her, begin deciding her future without her.
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Read the start of Coma House for free by selecting the publisher of your choice: Goodreads, Amazon UK, Amazon US or Kobo or click the cover of the book (left) to own your own copy on your tablet or phone.
You can also continue reading to find out more about Carla’s arresting, but invaluable real-life experience of volunteering in a hospital morgue when she was only sixteen, which undoubtedly inspired this unique, compelling story.
“Most people assume I write at night because of the kind of books I write, but I can shut out the light with my mind.”
As a fan of genre-defining, gritty books about urban life based on urban legends – the incredible Trainspotting being my all-time favourite – I’ve always wanted to put into words my own experiences of living in a tough area. I grew up on the outskirts of a major city at a time when gang violence ripped through the centre to the sound of gun blasts and petty crime filtered out into the surrounding communities. Semi-rural, protected in some ways from the worst, our town was relatively unscathed, but poverty was rife and people were desperate. The older brothers of my friends stole to survive. Some fought for money. Some enrolled and left for the army or navy and there’d be big parties when they came back home. Some people never got out of the gutter, falling prey to drug-toters and liars and some took advantage of those lonely souls to line their filthy pockets or even just to see those less fortunate take one extra, barely noticeable step down the slippery ladder of life. One of those people was a crooked social worker. To protect his identity, because I’m nice that way, I renamed him Geoff Tallow….
“Disorder, disobedience and rule breaking are features of all my stories.”
Disorder, disobedience and rule breaking are features of many of my stories. My best writing surfaces out of the need to rebel, the desire to end emotional chaos and the importance I place on embracing that independent streak inside us all that makes us want to break free of limits put on us by those who are prisoners of their own fear. Sleeping with the Sun is one of those stories.
I loved exploring unusual, interesting, even dangerous places as a child. I was lucky. I had freedom from a young age. My family didn’t try to stop me roaming the streets, riding my bike miles from home, visiting friend’s houses at the dead of night or walking to the bus stop alone. I used that early independence and the skills, knowledge and strength that came with it to my advantage many times, especially when faced with challenges some kids found really hard to deal with. Teachers and family said I had a strong head on young shoulders. I didn’t know what that meant until I grew up.