The Brotherhood by Jo Fenton #BlogTour #GuestPost

Jo Fenton author of The Brotherhood joins me to today on Blog Tour to tell us about her research and I also have two paperbacks up for grabs

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Title of Book: The Brotherhood
Series: 1 of 2
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Release Date: 25-Jul-2018 (ebook), 20-May-2018 (paperback)
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
When a young woman becomes pregnant in a religious sect, how far will she go to escape the abusive leader and save the people she loves?
The Brotherhood – safe haven or prison?
After her parents’ sudden death, a grieving Melissa falls back on her faith and into the welcoming arms of a religious sect. Captivated by their leader, Dominic, she leaves her old life behind and moves to the countryside to join them.
But life in The Brotherhood is not as safe as it first appeared. When engineer Mark joins The Brotherhood, Melissa finds herself conflicted between her growing feelings for him and her crush on Dominic. With their leader’s initial encouragement, Melissa and Mark grow close.
But as her haven becomes a prison, Melissa’s newfound happiness is destroyed by Dominic’s jealousy. How can she escape and save the ones she loves?

Research and The Brotherhood

To research, or not to research? That is the question.
In one sense, I wanted to avoid much research into religious sects. It’s a concept which is open to interpretation and is generally decided by the leader of the sect, or occasionally by a group of leaders. This gave me a lot of autonomy to do what I chose with the rules and dynamics of the sect.
Certain aspects did require investigation. I needed to check out the details of various mental illnesses and psychoses. I reviewed the basic details of the Waco siege; not because I planned to include a siege, but there were a few key similarities between David Khoresh and Dominic.
Derren Brown’s TV shows provided me with the information I needed about miracles. In order for Dominic to be convincing, I felt he needed to perform miracles, but common sense told me he would use trickery and psychology to convince his followers of the authenticity of these.  
I had to follow this up with some psychology reading – books on domestic abuse, and charm-syndrome helped to inform certain characters in the novel. These characters also drew on aspects of people I actually knew, but I combined the genuine charm of my friends with the abusive characteristics drawn from the research.
Research into setting was definitely more fun. I visited the prison at Lancaster castle, and got shut in for a couple of minutes, to help inform those scenes in the cellars. Thank goodness for the internet as well. I wanted desperately to go and visit an Abbey or two, but time kept escaping from me, and it didn’t quite happen. So I visited several Abbeys online, and combined the features with my imagination. I’ve always loved creating plans of buildings, so I drew my own plans of the Abbey in The Brotherhood. It had lots of features of the researched Abbeys, but was fit for my purpose.
Attached to the Abbey, is an infirmary, where Dominic makes a bit of extra money by doing some Clinical Trials. It isn’t mentioned explicitly in the novel, but all my Clinical Research friends will be aware that the novel is set before 2007, and the Northwick Park incident. That resulted in many changes, including the restriction on where Phase I trials could be conducted. I have to confess here that I didn’t have to do a lot of research on this area – Clinical Research is my day job, and the process of running trials is ingrained. Obviously, certain aspects were from my imagination, as I didn’t want to offend any clients.
Finally, when I was doing my final edits, I had a few moments of panic about the details of a murder. I’m keeping this spoiler free, but it’s crime, so there shouldn’t be any surprises about the existence of a murder!
Suffice to say, a long and detailed discussion with a medicinal chemist and a pharmacologist were necessary to ensure that the murder was believable, consistent and accurate. The experts are listed in my acknowledgements, and are the recipients of my eternal thanks!
These were the key points of my research, but every now and again, a point came up that needed checking.
So, back to the original question: To research, or not to research? I think even Hamlet would agree that research is the answer.


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Jo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age, particularly enjoying adventure books, school stories and fantasy. She wanted to be a scientist from aged six after being given a wonderful book titled “Science Can Be Fun”. At eleven, she discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer, and now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.
Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.
When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her husband, two sons, a Corgi and a tankful of tropical fish. She is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and a reading group.



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