The Phoenix Project for just 0.99!

The Phoenix Project is available to buy for just $0.99 / £0.99 from July 11th – July 17th. After that, the price returns to $4.99 – so why not grab a copy of this psychological dystopian thriller now!


The Phoenix Project Cover


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.

Britain has descended into chaos, as violence and terrorist attacks seethe across the 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 rages on within himself, Raven is forced to battle some of the prison’s most ruthless killing machines.

Fighting for his life and a chance for redemption, can Raven survive long enough to unravel the anger and regret that shackle him – and find the forgiveness he seeks?

“A superbly written debut, soaked in tension and intrigue.” Jack Croxall, author of the ‘Tethers’ trilogy.




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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.

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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 paralel 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!

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 inspirations.

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 more as an antagonist in the fantasy world of ‘The Light and Shadow Chronicles’ (You may have met him in the first of the series, A Chronicle of Chaos).

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:

profile pictureRaven 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.

The decline of religion: Religion plays an important role in my life, which is unusual, as I am agnostic. I feel that faith is beautiful and special. I, sadly, am not lucky enough to have it myself, but I don’t understand why people blame religion for the world’s problems. I wanted to portray a world which was clearly worse for the decline of religion in an attempt to show the benefits of faith.

Salverford prison: I travelled a lot whilst I was writing ‘The Phoenix Project’ and many of the places that I visited helped to fuel my imagination and give depth to my work. On a trip to Rome, I visited the Colosseum and was inspired by the ancient building. The exhibits on gladiators gave me a deeper understanding of the life of a person forced to fight to the death. I was able to pick out certain details and use them in ‘The Phoenix Project’ – such as the type of food gladiators were given to eat.

I also spent some time in Krakow, Poland, and visited Aushwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. I’ll never forget the horror of the place, particularly Block 11, the torture and incarceration block. The long, thin cell which Raven passes in the Ruby Tower dungeons comes directly from a cell I saw at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The descriptions of smoke billowing from small chimneys also come from things I saw at Auschwitz.

The place which gave me the most inspiration for Salverford, especially the underground cellars of Ruby Tower and the dark room, was the Terror Haza Museum in Budapest. This museum is the old offices of the Soviet Union Stasi and, later, The Nazi party’s Gestapo. Underneath the building, in the cold, dark cellars, is a grim and depressing dungeon of tiny, damp cells and a crushing sense of futility. I crept inside one of the waist-high cells and sat in pitch darkness and felt despair crowding in on me. This is where the ‘dark room’ was born.

For more information on the Terror Haza Museum, visit:

The Colosseum:

I love the city of Rome. I’ve visited three times and have loved it more every time! Setting the finale in Rome fitted in well with the religion theme and gave the novel a focus, but I also enjoyed writing about a place I loved so dearly. The Colosseum was a great place for Raven to end up as an ironic safe place.

As I was coming close to finishing ‘The Phoenix Project’, I was preparing myself to write the epilogue about Rome. My incredibly thoughtful husband surprised and delighted me by treating me to a holiday in Rome for Valentine’s day in 2010. It meant that I was able to write that final chapter in Rome itself.

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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 🙂

Want your own teaser trailer? This was from a fiverr gig, which you can access here:

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:   

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:

Don’t miss my Author Party Event ( 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:






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.


The Phoenix Project Thunderclap!

Hi everybody! I need some help with my release of The Phoenix Project through US publisher Booktrope. I have set up a Thunderclap campaign to try and get the word out. Any support would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much!

The Phoenix Project Cover - Booktrope.jpg

Secrets of The Phoenix Project

Secrets of The Phoenix Project…

The Phoenix Project Cover - Booktrope

The Phoenix Project was an idea floating around in my head for 10 years before it finally saw the light of day. All the characters, locations and events were gradually built upon to become what they are today. So here are some of the early influences on the novel. 

When hunting through my old notes from the very early versions of the book, I found these pictures. I cut them from magazines when I was around 18 years old and for years they were the perfect images for my characters. My ideas have changed somewhat (especially for Khan, who looks far too sweet here!), but the main ideas remained the same.

Alexia (top left) Khan (top right) Kiri (bottom left) and Seraphia (bottom right)

SANY4163    SANY4173

SANY4165    SANY4164

I even tried drawing some of my characters years ago! I have absolutely no talent in drawing so these are not very good – but they allowed me to get a better idea of the characters early on. Alexia (left) Raven (right).

SANY4166    SANY4167

Raven has also been a mixture of various people – both real and imaginary. I was working on the same character for a long time and he grew and developed into both Vincent Wilder from the Light and Shadow Chronicles, and Raven Kennedy from The Phoenix Project. Therefore, much of Raven’s character is from him. However, parts of him have been based around the following people:

Raven has always had dark hair and intense eyes. The first person I saw in a movie that really looked like my image of him was Billy Crudup as Tommy Marcano in the film ‘Sleepers.’


Then I watched ‘Sunshine’ starring Cillian Murphy, and I loved the intensity of his eyes, and the haunted look he always has about him!


Another good model for Raven is Aidan Turner – especially in ‘Being Human’. I like the darkness of his eyes, (though I think he may be a bit too ‘pretty’ for Raven!)


The closest I’ve come yet to an actor who looks a lot like my image of Raven is Santiago Cabrera as Isaac in Heroes. As a character that deals with mental health issues, Isaac reminded me a lot of Raven and that brooding intensity he has is just perfect!

So, what do you think? If you have read The Phoenix Project why not drop me a line and let me know who you pictured when you were reading the book. Maybe your idea of Raven (or any of the characters) will be very different to mine, but I’d love to know!