Inspiration for The Phoenix Project

Inspiration for The Phoenix Project

The Phoenix Project is a story that is very close to my heart. I had the original idea in 2002 and it has slowly grown with the input of a variety of influences and inspiration.

Inspiration #1: Raven Kennedy:

Raven began as the villain, Vincent, in my first novel “Dead End” (an idea which never came to fruition). The plot didn’t work, but I adored his character so I kept him and developed him as the antagonist in the fantasy world of ‘The Light and Shadow Chronicles’ (You may have met him in A Chronicle of Chaos or The Shield of Soren).

I loved the character so much that I took the idea of him and developed it in another direction—into the dark and depressed Raven in my next novel, The Phoenix Project.

Having worked with Raven for so long, I am very emotionally attached to him. Even though he is fictional, I feel that he is a part of my heart and soul. Hence this tattoo:

D.M. Cain profile picture - Raven tattoo

Raven also features as a major character in The Light and Shadow Chronicles. I don’t think I will ever write a book that doesn’t have Raven in it in some way. He is my muse and my access to my creativity.

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How was The Phoenix Project inspired by D.M. Cain’s love of geek culture?

How was The Phoenix Project inspired by my love of games, film and books?

Science fiction, fantasy and general geek culture have always been a huge part of my life. Growing up it was Star Wars, Marvel, anime, and a fixation with the Final Fantasy game series. As an adult, I am working my way through the great sci-fi and dystopian films and books of our time. Also, I am discovering an immense love of all things fantasy (especially those which include immersive world-building such as Game of Thrones).

When my debut novel, The Phoenix Project, was released I decided to delve into the themes and ideas within the book to see which of these geek culture influences made their mark upon my writing.

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dystopian films movies

The 12 best dystopian movies – by D.M. Cain

The 12 best dystopian movies –

by D.M. Cain

From an early age I was always more interested when things went wrong in the world. The light, fluffy Disney world of my younger childhood was left behind as I passed into my teenage years and surrounded myself with works of dystopian fiction such as George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

This love of a futuristic world gone wrong spilled over into my movie taste as well. So, here is a list of my favourite dystopian movies of all time, appearing in no particular order. What are your favourites?

Continue reading “The 12 best dystopian movies – by D.M. Cain”

In desperate need of Thunderclap help!

With just 2 days left until my Thunderclap campaign ends, I am still in need of 22 supporters! From July 11th – 17th The Phoenix Project will be on sale for just $0.99 / £0.99 and in order to get this news to as many people as possible, I need Thunderclap’s help.

This means I need as much support as possible. I will gladly return support for anybody else’s campaigns, or if you need shares or tweets etc.

Here is my campaign:

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/43726-the-phoenix-project-for-0-99

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The Phoenix Project is back on sale!

Thanks to my amazing new publisher, Creativia, The Phoenix Project is now back on sale! Grab a copy here:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01GKU3T92/

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GKU3T92/

The Phoenix Project Cover.jpg

THE PHOENIX PROJECT by DM Cain – my review no.51

Wow – I am absolutely honoured by this wonderful, in-depth review of The Phoenix Project! I truly feel that this reviewer managed to grasp the core of what I was trying to say. She looked beyond the violence and the celebrity culture of the book, and saw the true messages I wanted to communicate.

This was a difficult book to write (as said in the review, I truly did have to visit a dark place to get into this mindset), but it is very close to my heart because of this.

 

THE PHOENIX PROJECT by DM Cain – my review no.51

by Anita Kovacevic on 08/05/2016

The Phoenix Project was no small surprise for me. It guides the reader into the abyss of what is wrong with humanity, so many negative feelings, brutality, alienation, fascination with fame, lack of faith and communication, and the overwhelming exuberance of alienation. It is not the book for the faint-hearted, romantic reader who seeks light entertainment, and the author obviously did not write it according to the popular recipe for book sales, but out of conviction.

This is a dystopian version of human reality set in a horribly violent prison, with characters of questionable morality and almost no hope for optimism, save naivety. The main (anti)hero Raven is placed in a prison for a crime he did commit, and is forced, along with others, to fight to life or death in the prison arena during televised fights, deluded by the warden’s false promise of early release 5 years later and a zero chance of surviving that long. Along the way you also follow a parallel story of Raven’s life before prison, explaining what led to his crime.

Considering the current events in the world, the story is relevant in its relation to the consequences of terrorism, and is painfully shocking in depicting what people turn into when they are oppressed and afraid the whole time. The author poses a huge challenge before the reader – how do you justify the main character, who is a criminal himself although he claims to hate killing? What punishment would you give or could you give? How much is enough to atone for our trangressions and who is to judge? The corruption of society leaders and the obsession with media fame are too close to home for modern society, adding to the effect of the story on the reader.

The author’s style is consistent in depicting the depressing and overwhelming amount of unnecessary violence, people herded like sheep and subdued by fear, difficulties in forming even simple friendships, let alone meaningful romance. The amount of violence is strongly reminiscent of gladiator fights, and the historical analogy emphasizes the futility of hope for human progress. The story is profused by the dark and gloomy all the way, except for the epilogue which you can read at the link in the end of the story.

The characters are memorable, for all their faults and weaknesses. The inevitable fascination with brutality, madness and the celebrity cult is a vital spiritus movens of the story. You are both shocked and mesmerized by the characters, for instance – the quite extraordinary Millicent and Khan, the brutal brother and sister and the story of how violence shapes them. No character is faultless, nobody beyond reproach, even the seeming ‘good guys and gals’, even despite their redeeming actions and life history.

Raven, the main anti-hero, was difficult to relate with for me – his lack of strength and conviction in his everyday life outside prison is so sad. He tries to please his girlfriend Seraphia by not being himself, he stays with her even after she makes a tragic decision about their common future (trying to avoid spoilers here) and even though he knows she is leaving. This eventually leads up to his crime, which, for the reader, becomes easy to guess, but difficult to condone. You keep wondering why he didn’t just choose a different path. Raven makes all the wrong decisions, and his life is a study into loneliness, depression, weakness, indecisiveness, lethargy, guilt… The feeling of isolation is enhanced by the lack of anything outside the prison from the moment he enters it, which adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere. The final scenes, when he is forced to be alone with himself, are interesting, because people always say it is the most difficult thing in life not to be able to spend time with your own self. Apart from the vivid graphic descriptions, I felt the author could have even done slightly more with this section. The purgatory/hell-like scenery is depicted really well.

However, I cannot recommend this read to everyone, but only because this kind of a story is an acquired taste. The author’s dedication and vision are strong and convincing. I am definitely recommending The Phoenix Project to fans of post-apocalyptic dystopia and those interested in the psychology of violence and loneliness.

What amazes me is knowing that the author must have gone to a really dark place of vision for this story, and is to be commended for persevering in the same tone and mood the entire time, and sticking to conviction, without succumbing to what is easier. Congratulations on that courage.

(On a P.S. note, I have read the epilogue, and much as my romantic side felt it deserved its readers, it stood slightly separate from the rest of the story in its tone.  So many things happen in the epilogue, which soothe the optimists among readers, but compared to the development of the book plot itself, it feels more like a dream than the ‘real’ ending. Nevertheless, I was grateful for the offer of hope and consolation.)

 

Source: THE PHOENIX PROJECT by DM Cain – my review no.51

Win a signed paperback of The Phoenix Project!

There’s a giveaway happening over at Goodreads the next few days – join in and you could win one of 2 signed paperback copies of The Phoenix Project!
 

New teaser trailer for The Phoenix Project

My psychological dystopian thriller The Phoenix Project has a brand-new mini trailer! I’m so happy with the results 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXvGZoQ_Ftc

Want your own teaser trailer? This was from a fiverr gig, which you can access here: https://uk.fiverr.com/nomansalehzada/create-animated-book-cover-intro-video

The Phoenix Project Blog Tour!

My 4Wills blog tour for The Phoenix Project will take place over the next few weeks, stopping at the blogs of lots of wonderful writers. To see where I’ll be on each day, check out the tour schedule here:

https://4willspublishing.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/blog-tour-author-d-m-cain/   

You can also win some goodies!

I am giving away two free book bundles, where you can win a signed paperback of The Phoenix Project, plus a paperback of my children’s book, Soren.


To be eligible to win one of these sets, merely leave a comment on any stop along the tour, including this one and you could be one of our two lucky winners!!!

The first stop on our tour starts today at the blog of the wonderful John Fioravanti, where you can learn about the changes from the first to the second edition of The Phoenix Project:

http://fiorabooks.com/introducing-d-m-cains-the-phoenix-project-2nd-edition/

Don’t miss my Author Party Event (http://4Wills-DMCain.chatovod.com/) on Friday, January 15th at 1pm CST!!

Dark, psychological dystopian ‘The Phoenix Project’ gets a makeover!

It’s taken many an hour slogging away over the manuscript, making tweaks and changes and tearing my hair out, but the new version of The Phoenix Project is finally here!

This brand new edition of my dystopian, psychological thriller The Phoenix Project will be re-released on December 11th. It was originally published in May 2014, and this new Booktrope edition has had a complete editing overhaul plus a stunning new cover design.

The Phoenix Project Cover - Booktrope

The book will be available to buy from a wide range of digital and paperback distributors, including Amazon:

Nook:

http://www.nook.com/gb/ebooks/the-phoenix-project-by-dm-cain/2940157645656

Amazon:

US http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0195A6AYKhttp://amzn.to/1NKjbrt

UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0195A6AYKhttp://amzn.to/1QAoJW9

Synopsis:

How can you fight to the death, when you’ve given up on life?

A thought provoking and compelling dystopian world that will change the way you view justice…

A man fights for life—and redemption—in D. M. Cain’s riveting re-released novel, The Phoenix Project.

Britain has descended into chaos as violence and terrorist attacks seethe across this once-peaceful country. Outraged by the steady stream of lawlessness, citizens demand a harsher penal system, and the Phoenix Project is born.

In prisons across the country, inmates fight to the death in a weekly bloodbath while the nation cheers them on.

Raven Kennedy, a prisoner who has never forgiven himself for his unspeakable crime, struggles against his own guilt and self-loathing. But even as the real war wages on within himself, Raven is forced to battle some of the prison’s most ruthless killing machines. Can he survive long enough to unravel the anger and regret that shackle him—and one day find the forgiveness he seeks?

‘The Phoenix Project by D.M. Cain is a superbly written debut, soaked in tension and intrigue,’ Jack Croxall, author of the ‘Tethers’ trilogy.

An interesting fact about The Phoenix Project: The horrifying ‘dark room’ in The Phoenix Project (a pitch-black sensory deprivation cell) was inspired by D.M. Cain’s visit to the Terror Haza in Budapest—a museum dedicated to the fascistic and communistic regimes that operated from the building. In the cellar of the Terror Haza are the old cells used to imprison and torture inmates. D.M. crawled inside a very low cell and shut the door, casting herself into total darkness. It was terrifying and claustrophobic, and she only lasted five minutes in there!

 

Extract from Chapter One:

This is the opening, which throws us straight into Raven preparing for his first fight to the death
Cold, dark terror trickled through Raven Kennedy’s veins, freezing him on the spot. There was a thunderous drumbeat echoing around his skull and it took him a while to realise it was the relentless, agitated pounding of his own heart.

As he became more nervous, more afraid of his looming fate, his breath came quickly, sticking in his throat and choking him. A cough threatened to burst forth from his lips, but he held it in, afraid it would bring with it the contents of his stomach—the bland, tasteless meal he had been given in his cell.

It was the worst possible time to feel weak, but Raven felt like he could hardly lift his arms, his exhaustion was so great. He hadn’t slept a wink last night. How could he with today hovering over him?
The time for his first fight had come around quickly. He’d hardly been given time to think about it at all. Raven looked down at his hands and was not surprised to see they were shaking.

His opponent’s name was Wilson. Raven knew nothing else about him. He’d never spoken to him, had never even met him. Had they passed one another in the dining hall and never even looked up? If he had spoken to him would that make what he was about to do any easier?

He heard heavy footsteps in the corridor and his heart jumped into his throat. They were coming for him.