Deeply dark with harrowing twists, a uniquely gifted boy falls into a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with the arrival of a monstrous protector…searching for something of the past within a unique bloodline. Whispers of a Gypsy brings fear back to horror and psychological suspense the way we remember classic Jack Ketcum, Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Thomas Harris novels, while adding Patten’s trademark penchant for the unexpected in a fast-paced emotional and fear-driven rollercoaster ride.
Neurodivergent, young Dwight Skinner considers his mental challenges to be a superpower, but it’s a pure bloodline that will put him in danger. When a tragic event brings a mysterious Romani neighbor, Mr. Mortimer, out of seclusion and into the Skinner family’s lives, Dwight and his emotionally overloaded mother find an unsuspecting protector in this dark lurking whisperer. Death and horrific secrets trail the unfolding life of Mr. Mortimer’s past, and questions soon arise as to who has the more sinister of intentions, Dwight or the “Gypsy” he unconditionally trusts. The whispers have the answer.
TheBigThrill spent some time with author J.T. Patten learning more about his latest dark thriller, WHISPERS OF A GYPSY:
Was there anything new you discovered, or surprised you, as you wrote this book?
I was much less aware of the Romani’s (Gypsy) genocide from WWII extermination. With most of the history focus on the Jewish Holocaust, it was rather enlightening to see how much of the horrific experimentation was conducted on another group, as well. I hope the book proves to be an eye-opening experience for readers while not turning the story into a history lesson. Certainly, this is a very, very fictional book.
What attracts you to this book’s genre?
As a former intelligence professional, I have had to submit my works to various military and government professional review boards, which can take well over six months. It became increasingly difficult to meet publisher deadlines with CIA and DOD review delays. My books were always very dark, so I nudged them a bit closer to horror while still keeping the tempo, a degree of espionage, and history without getting the manuscripts wrapped up in red-tape.
What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?
This was a liberating book to write rather freely without doing research on weapon calibre, distance, naming conventions, etc. The story took shape on its own and tied in to many of today’s social issues with hate and also genetic alterations. It was a green field for me to play in while still remaining true to my blacker than black style.
Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?
Character. My son asked me to write a book for him about a boy with a disability named Dwight (for The Office) and who would say Crumbuckets when he gets mad. It’s a good thing it took me a couple years to write, so my son could get older, because the book got a lot darker than I was planning.
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
I’m no headliner author, but I think I have gained a reputation for twists and taking readers into some very dark and surprising places. Tropes may be found within, but I’m taking readers for a new ride that I promise will sit with them for days long after the last page is turned.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
Even though I started out as an espionage and military thriller author, it was the works of Poe, King, Harris that turned me from a reluctant reader to a more voracious one. They taught me that creativity and a good story can suspend disbelief and escapism.
Former government intelligence and special mission advisor, JT Patten is a published author of six dark fiction novels that relate to his prior world of lies and deception where he witnessed both the best and worst in humanity. He is an active member of the Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers. His initial best-selling works have gained acclaim for their “blacker than black” brooding narrative that illuminate the blurred lines in life and twist traditional tropes on their head.
To learn more about the author and his work, please visit his website.