In a guest post, Hertford-based author Vikki Patis reveals how her own struggles with coeliac disease inform her new psychological thriller out now
I signed my first book deal in March 2018, so to be celebrating the release of my fifth novel three years later is just incredible. In the Dark is a blend of genres, but to me it is a story about what it is to be human, and all the different parts that make a whole.
At the centre of this story are the characters and the paths they find themselves on. Izzy is a vulnerable, confused teenage girl, Seb is troubled by his past and unsure about his future, Caitlyn is struggling to keep her head above water, and Liv has demons of her own to contend with. In the Dark opens with the discovery of Izzy’s suicide attempt after an inappropriate photo of her is shared online.
From there, the book tackles a range of subjects, including racism, bullying, mental health, parenting struggles, and class divides. None of these are easy topics to write about, but it is so important to see accurate representations within fiction.
Just as Izzy reads so she can disappear into fictional worlds, many of us use the arts as a way to escape, but it’s also necessary for the arts to represent us in all our diverse forms. Art can help us see where we fit in the world, which is why I’ve started including characters with disabilities and chronic illnesses in my books.
Seb has coeliac disease, as I do, which means he has to stick to a strict gluten-free diet. This isn’t always easy on a budget, as gluten-free food can be incredibly expensive. I grew up in a working-class household, but I wasn’t diagnosed until my mid-twenties, so I’m fortunate that I can afford to be gluten free. Living with coeliac disease and other chronic illnesses shouldn’t be a class issue, but it is, and for Liv, who is a single parent and works in a petrol station, making sure her grandson has the right food is often a worry.
For us to feel understood, we need to have our stories heard, and fiction is how I tell my story. And so, at its core, In the Dark is a story about forging your identity and navigating your way through life.
About the book:
Is a situation ever black and white?
Liv knows what kind of boy her grandson is. She knows Seb would never do anything to hurt his girlfriend, Izzy. But could the shadow cast by his father be influencing the boy she loves?
Caitlyn, Izzy’s mother, is desperate to reach her daughter, but she only seems to push her further away. Can she help her daughter or are Caitlyn’s own demons standing in the way?
When an inappropriate photo of Izzy is shared online, no one is prepared for the ripples that threaten to tear their lives apart. Will the truth come out before it’s too late?
Or is the damage already done?
About Vikki Patis:
Vikki Patis is the bestselling author of psychological thrillers In the Dark (2021), The Wake (2020), Girl, Lost (2020), The Girl Across the Street (2019), and The Diary (2018). Girl, Lost, a top 100 bestseller on Amazon, was later longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize 2020. She is represented by Emily Glenister at DHH Literary Agency for historical fiction.
In 2016, she self-published Weltanschauung, a short story collection, and her BSc dissertation, I Ink, Therefore I Am, was published by Lambert Publishing in 2014. Vikki also runs The Bandwagon blog and the Psychological Suspense Authors’ Association, and she used to write for various websites covering a variety of topics from book reviews to living with a chronic illness to feminism.