Guest Post: CJ Harter author of Fitful Head @cj_harter

Today I’m delighted to welcome author CJ Harter to Jen Med’s. Her latest book, Fitful Head is out now. Before we hear from CJ on the inspiration behind her story, let’s take a look at what the book is all about.

FHAbout the Book

Imagine you lose your mind… and something’s waiting to take its place.

Isobel Hickey’s husband, Richard, was intense, exciting and crazy, and she wants him back. The problem is she can’t have him: he died two years ago in circumstances too painful to remember. Now, she must keep going on for teenage children, Ben and Melissa, and her dog, Brodie. But how can she when nothing makes sense anymore? When she’s haunted by ghostly footprints in the snow, and a sinister stranger who knows too much about her?

When a mute old woman speaks from her death-bed, she plunges Isobel into terrifying danger, a nightmare chain of frightening events where Richard’s secrets lurk and threaten Isobel’s sanity. Now she has to fight to save her children from an insidious evil she doesn’t understand. She must uncover who, or what, is haunting her. But is she strong enough or will she succumb to its malevolent desire?

“Compellingly readable, Fitful Head is a suspenseful and thrilling ghost story for our times.” Caroline England, author of Beneath The Skin

Picture a young girl, eleven, bedridden with enervating glandular fever, lonely and forbidden visitors for fear of over-tiring. She has only books and reruns of Bette Davis melodramas for company.

Only books? She’s read Pickwick Papers, The Lord Of The Rings, then The Hobbit (she didn’t know that was the wrong order). She’s re-read her entire Noel Streatfeild collection and all of Enid Blyton. She’s discovered Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books and she’s been enthralled and deeply shocked by Nicholas And Alexandra by Robert K Massie from her mum’s World Book Club.

Some days she’s so feverish Gandalf The Grey peers out at her from behind the psychedelic flowers of her seventies bedroom curtains. And some of those days she’s so weak, she can’t lift her head from the pillow to say hello to him.

But most days, she reads. She swallows books whole. And one day, into her febrile mind walks Henry James, his ghost story The Turn Of The Screw and its terrified, haunted wholly unreliable governess narrator. That’s it. There’s no turning back. The girl is hooked on ghost stories.

And I still am. So much so that when I first read Sarah Waters’ seminal haunted house novel The Little Stranger, I simply could not resist experimenting with how I might create similarly terrifying effects on my readers. Could I keep my readers awake at night and waiting for dawn to break so they dare continue reading? Well, nine long years later, I’ve finally got around to publishing Fitful Head: A Ghost Story and initial reviews indicate I may have succeeded:  “Unnerving and had me jumping at sudden noises for days!” KN Johnson, author of Frigid and other stories.

I look back on that time of sickly childhood with mixed feelings. I missed a whole school term at a time vital for forming lasting friendships, but I met the screen goddess Bette Davis who has delighted me ever since. The illness left me prone to depression which has been an intermittent blight on my life, but it also gifted me the luxury of time to truly immerse myself in reading and to discover the delicious terror of reading a ghost story.  As mother of the British ghost story, Ann Radcliffe observed: “terror expands the soul and awakens the faculties.” 

I came awake, bedridden at eleven.

Thanks CJ. It’s amazing where and how we find inspiration isn’t it? I also read a lot of ghost stories as a child. Totally my favourite genre, but I don’t think I could ever try to write one.

You can find CJ’s ghost story here… if you dare!

Find out more about CJ Harter and her books here:

About the Author


CJ Harter has dissected human bodies in Sheffield, shushed library-users in Wigan, shared poetry in Liverpool, organised bedbaths in Salford. Now she helps folk connect with their creativity through writing. First novel, psychological suspense Rowan’s Well, won a Chill With A Book Readers’ Award, was shortlisted in the Words With Jam First Page 2017 Competition and is garnering fabulous 5 star reviews. New release Fitful Head: A Ghost Story recently won second prize in Liverpool Writing On The Wall Festival’s Pulp Idol contest and was highly placed in the international UK-NWC competition. CJ has a degree in Literature and Philosophy, is mother to two adults, wife to one and slave to two tiny dogs.

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