A Quick Q&A And Cover Reveal For C. J. Dotson’s Debut Novel ‘The Cut’

Today, we’re thrilled to welcome C. J. Dotson as we share the cover reveal of her upcoming novel ‘The Cut’! This is C.J.’s debut novel, and we’re absolutely thrilled to be able to share the reveal with you. Before I get too far ahead of myself, though, lets pick C. J.’s brain (figuratively, of course!) about her upcoming release. First, I’ll share the synopsis to give you a bit of context before we dive into the questions.

Synopsis: In this chilling supernatural horror novel set in a mysterious hotel, a woman fleeing her abusive ex finds herself running from more than just her past.

A historic hotel long past its prime and huddled along The Cut, a questionable Lake Erie beach, isn’t Sadie Miles’ ideal place to raise a toddler while also navigating her second pregnancy. After finally fleeing her abusive ex-fiancé, though, Sadie’s new housekeeping position and free room at L’Arpin Hotel are the best she can manage.

On her first night, Sadie runs to help a guest struggling in the hotel’s pool only to find the water calm and empty when she gets there, leaving her with a lingering unease. When a guest then goes missing and her manager insists they simply left without checking out, Sadie suspects he’s covering up darker goings-on in the hotel.

After her ex, Sadie won’t let anyone convince her that what she’s experiencing isn’t real again. So, she keeps digging, quickly uncovering suspicious interactions with the staff, mysteriously vanishing security cameras, more missing guests, and things that go bump in the night…and drip in the walls, slither in the tub, and squirm in the halls. Everything isn’t as it seems within the dim hallways of L’Arpin. Sadie has nowhere to go and nowhere to hide; she’ll need to keep her wits about her to survive and keep her toddler and unborn child safe from whatever lurks nearby.

Horror Tree: C.J. hotels are often thought of as places for a vacation to get away from things. While it looks like Sadie is trying to get away, it isn’t necessarily for a relaxing weekend at the beach. Can you share why you chose a hotel as the location for the story and how it factors into being the prime setting?

C. J. Dotson: During early brainstorming I was focused more on a Lake Erie beach than anything else; I wanted a story to happen there, and I wanted it to happen to a character who had no familiarity with the place but also felt as if they couldn’t easily leave. The character of Sadie Miles and the hotel setting grew together from that—a woman taking her child and escaping abuse without a support network or the luxury of a plan, finding temporary work as a hotel housekeeper, and wrangling a free room to stay in for a short time while she gets back on her feet. Once I had that idea, the nature of a hotel—a transitory place, the unsettling way the familiarity of their general sameness can combine with the unfamiliarity of staying outside of the home, and the isolation that comes with not being in a permanent environment—fit the themes of THE CUT so well that L’Arpin Hotel took on a life of its own within the narrative.

HT: Can you share a bit about the main character, Sadie Miles, and what drives her throughout the novel?

CJD: Having just discovered that she is pregnant, Sadie Miles takes her daughter by her late husband and leaves her abusive fiancé after he goes to work. Through the novel, Sadie’s primary concern at every turn is the safety and well-being of her daughter. At the same time, she is determined never to find herself in another abusive power dynamic, and this fuels both her growing suspicions about L’Arpin Hotel and her personal growth as she works to rediscover her own strength.

HT: Without giving too much away, what can readers expect from the supernatural aspects of the book?

CJD: With the book cover in mind, I don’t think it gives too much away to say “tentacles.”

HT: What themes do you explore in “THE CUT” and how do they relate to the horrors Sadie faces?

CJD: The primary themes I was working to include in THE CUT were the isolating impacts of motherhood, grief, and abuse, as well as the ability to find resilience, confidence, and strength in oneself in spite of those circumstances. Behaviors Sadie encounters among the people (and other things) at L’Arpin mirror certain aspects of those themes, as does the way Sadie’s approach to those behaviors changes through the book, and the way she approaches parenting in the midst of everything and what her daughter, Izzy, picks up from that.

HT: As this is your debut novel, what was the writing process like for you? Were there any challenges or surprises along the way?

CJD: This is my debut novel but, like almost every author I know, it’s not the first book I’ve written. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, I wrote my first (awful) fantasy novella in my mid-teens and my first (slightly less awful) sci-fi novel in my late teens. I kept writing sci-fi and fantasy through my twenties and into my early thirties, and only switched to horror during the pandemic, which was a weird time to try my hand at writing as much scary and upsetting content as I could and a weird time to discover I enjoyed that. So, in terms of my writing process itself, while I’m always tweaking how I work and I’m always trying to improve, there isn’t much that surprises me right now. While writing THE CUT specifically, what I found the most challenging was portraying the character of Izzy Miles, Sadie’s three-year-old daughter. Balancing an authentic-feeling presentation of a toddler with the pace I wanted to set for Sadie’s story was something I had to work hard to pull off.

CJD: Thanks so much for having me, and for sharing the cover for THE CUT! Interested readers can say hi to me on http://www.twitter.com/cj_dots or find the book here, https://read.macmillan.com/lp/the-cut-9781250335449/

You can view the full cover right here:

You may also like...