Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Asylum Seekers

This week, we've got not one, but two guest posts! First of all, regular contributors C L Raven have dropped by to tell us about their new novel 'Soul Asylum' and the time that they tried to break into an abandoned mental asylum. It involves a mini, a ghost tour and a German shepherd.... Later on this week, Anya Breton and her new novel 'Alpha Exposed'.

We’re so excited to be back on L K Jay’s blog. We might stay awhile, drink some Red Bull and watch Great British Ghosts until we remember why we’re here. We’ve just released our hugely anticipated (by ‘hugely’ we mean 4 people are VERY excited) debut novel, Soul Asylum. And because L K Jay shared with you all the time she got arrested, in relation to her releasing The Policeman Who Was Afraid of the Dark, we’ll tell you about how our book led to us committing a minor crime. Trespassing.

We first wrote Soul Asylum in 2005. After many edits and many years later, we thought it might be wise to actually do some research and as the book is set in a mental hospital in North Wales, we Googled ‘mental hospitals in North Wales.’ And colour us jiggered, there was one. Denbigh Asylum built in the 1880s. The perfect timeline. The first asylum ever built in North Wales and it was stunning. We immediately fell in love with it and vowed we’d visit before we released the book. Would an 8 hour round trip just to go and look at an asylum be considered crazy? Yes it would. And yes we did it.

We left Cardiff at 3:30am with our mum – she refused to let us drive through the night alone. Plus we think she secretly wanted to join in the crazy - and arrived at the gates of Denbigh Asylum at 8am. But they were locked and covered in ‘Trespassers will be prosecuted’ and ‘Warning: Guard Dogs’ signs. We can outrun security guards, but not guards dogs, so we just photographed the asylum from the gate. One of those photos is now the front cover of the book, so yes it was worth it. We then went to visit Denbigh castle. It was closed. So we went to Ruthin Gaol. Closed. So we came home and in usual fashion, got horribly lost.

We were thrilled we’d got the photos but then we found photos online – people had got inside! How dare they! That’s OUR asylum! We wanted to bring our fictional asylum to life. There was only one thing for it. We had to get inside. But being 4 hours away, it’s not exactly somewhere we can just sneak off to. Then a year later, fate intervened with cheap ghost tour tickets. We’re so indecisive we couldn’t pick a location until all but one was sold out – Ruthin Gaol. So we booked. We would be making a return trip to North Wales.

After three disastrous days that resulted in us continuously getting lost and very nearly fracturing our friendship with our long suffering sidekick Ryan, we decided to show him the Tantalus that was Denbigh Asylum. By now the book was with an editor in America. Publication was drawing close. We were getting desperate. We pulled up outside. Angels sang, choirs wept and gods bowed down before us. THE GATES WERE OPEN! This was as much of an invitation as Johnny Depp writing our names on his naked chest in chocolate body paint. We squealed like the Twilight vampires at a glitter sale and parked up. While Ryan was distracted reading the demolition signs (they’re knocking down this amazing piece of history and building flats. Bastards), we walked through the gates.

Unfortunately, the asylum is about 100 yards from the gates. In hindsight, we should’ve run. Or sneaked in. Walking brazenly through the gates at 3 o’ clock in the afternoon was quite possibly our undoing. We reached the construction fencing just outside the asylum before getting politely turfed out by the caretaker. He said he didn’t mind us being there but the other guy did and he was bringing his dog. He wasn’t joking. The old caretaker has a German shepherd trained to chase off trespassers. Just as we got back to the car, the infamous caretaker arrived. We fled with a squeal of tyres.

Back at home we found even MORE photos from people who had got inside. Videos too. We were fuming. In fact, we can no longer look at photos of Denbigh Asylum because our rages glow so bright, the NASA space shuttle filed a complaint.

So we did the one thing we never thought we’d do – we wrote to Denbighshire county council and asked for permission to film our book trailer inside the asylum. They were so helpful, they gave us the solicitor’s details who represent the firm who own it. So we wrote to the solicitors. We haven’t heard back. And now the book is released. But we’re not giving up. Even if we have to hassle them to the point of a restraining order, even though the trailer’s done and the book published, we WILL get inside Denbigh Asylum. Just need a grappling hook and some balaclavas...

Soul Asylum is available to download from:

Amazon UK  Amazon US  Smashwords

You can follow C L Raven on Twitter:  @CLRaven or read their blog: Raven's Retreat

The blood wanted to prick a conscience that couldn’t bleed.
Poe could keep his telltale heart.
I couldn't hear it beating.
Ravens Retreat harbours a sinister secret. Inside its blackened heart lurk the ghosts of patients and staff who died when the asylum was burned down in 1904. Over a hundred years later, the West wing survives and now the patients want revenge.

Their eternal repose is disturbed by a malevolent poltergeist and the ghost tours led by the asylum’s resident, Phineas Soul, which attract the attention of journalist Mason Strider. His attempts to expose Phineas as a fraud have catastrophic consequences when it is Ravens Retreat’s dark heart that’s exposed as it awakens to claim the lives of those who dare to enter its brutal past.

Some things should never be disturbed.


  1. haha I love how your rage is a viable source of energy <3

  2. How taunting, that you could never get inside! However, I bet that what you imagined is probably far scarier and more chilling than what you would have encountered in reality. Okay, I'm not sure that makes up for missing out on getting inside Denbigh Asylum.... but if it helps ease the pain, I'm very interested in reading your book now! :)

    Thanks for hosing this wonderful guest, LK!