Q&A with Author of ‘The Dead House’ Dawn Kurtagich

Be introduced to the brilliant debut author Dawn Kurtagich, she’s a brilliant thriller YA writer and you can learn more about her and her debut novel The Dead House in this Q&A.

Just want to say thanks to Dawn for taking part in #DKQnA!

Where the any specific places or events that inspired the plot or locations featured in The Dead House?

There is a lot of backstory about what inspired the plot, but the actual locations—not specifically. Elmbridge High School is a more complex version of a school I went to as a teenager, where I was a boarding student. The chapel is inspired by a few of the local chapels around where I live, and the hospital came crawling out of some deep subconscious lower level of my mind.

How did you come up with the design?

The Dead House

The design was created by someone in the Little, Brown team! I have no idea who, to be honest, and I think my publisher’s are keeping them secret to protect them from my hugs, kisses and fangirling. Isn’t it beautiful?

My publisher sent me three design concepts to choose from, and I asked if we could merge two of them together, which is exactly what happened! 🙂


What sort of research did you do into disassociation?

I did research into the psychological and medical side of D.I.D and made good use of medical and clinical and psychological handbooks. But my closest research came from personal experience. Someone in my family suffers with D.I.D and I have had close personal experience with it for many years. It should be noted, though, that I have taken liberties with D.I.D in THE DEAD HOUSE. It’s a lovely thing, fiction! 🙂


What gave you the idea to create a retrospective narrative?

When the story began, I thought it was Carly’s. But soon Kaitlyn told me outright to stop kidding myself, and acknowledge that it was her story too. A lot of the book led me, rather than the other way around. The only thing I really knew going in was that Kaitlyn had something to say. I intended to tell her stories through her journal. It quickly became apparent that I couldn’t trust her entirely, and I needed another view. Dr. Lansing, Det. Chief Inspector Holmes followed, and then Naida’s videos did too. They all seemed to be telling a story leading to a big, awful event. The book came together in pieces, and is told in the same way.


What are the origins of the witchcraft elements?

Dawn Kurtagich

My childhood. For a while, my mother worked as a missionary in the African bush. I was allowed to go along and see the tribes, and I would play with the children. One visit, a witch doctor cast bones at me. I was fascinated and scared. Ever since then, I’ve been fascinated with alternative ways of viewing the world, tribal culture and alternative faiths. They became a passion. Mala and Grúndi came out of a lifetime of fascination.


Who would you want to play Carly/Kaitlyn in The Dead House the film and why?

Great question! I answered that over on Luna’s Little Library and What Sarah Read’s Blog. It was a lot of fun! 🙂


Which writers inspire you?

So so many! But off the top of my head:

Kate Mosse
Marcus Sedgwick
Gillian Flynn
Margaret Atwood
Kazuo Ishiguro
David Almond
Juliet Marillier
Jacqueline Carey
Holly Black
Neil Gaiman
Victoria Schwab
Mark Z. Danielewski
Christopher Pike
L. Stine
Adam Neville
Stephen King (obviously!)
Cat Clarke

And many, many more.


Will your next book also be a psychological thriller?

My next book is a psychological, mind-twisty, romantic, gothic, surreal horror. 🙂


To find out more about Dawn and her upcoming book you can check out her website and twitter.

You can also check out my review of The Dead House.

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