Dawn Kurtagich is a writer of creepy, spooky, and psychologically sinister YA, where girls may descend into madness, boys may see monsters in men, and grown-ups may have something to hide. She is the author of THE DEAD HOUSE, THE CREEPER MAN / AND THE TREES CREPT IN, and NAIDA published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Orion Children's Books. If you enjoy a creeping chill along your spine, mystery and little bit of terror, then you're in the right place!
By the time she was eighteen, she had been to fifteen schools across two continents. The daughter of a British globe-trotter and single mother, she grew up all over the place, but her formative years were spent in Africa—on a mission, in the bush, in the city and in the desert.
She has been lucky enough to see an elephant stampede at close range, a giraffe tongue at very close range, and she once witnessed the stealing of her (and her friends’) underwear by very large, angry baboons. (This will most definitely end up in a book . . . ) While she has quite a few tales to tell about the jumping African baboon spider, she tends to save these for Halloween!
When she was sixteen, she thought she'd be an astronomer and writer at the same time, and did a month-long internship at Cambridge's prestigious Cavendish Laboratories.
Dawn is also an artist, a singer and an illustrator.
Her life reads like a YA novel.
See with your mind as well as your eyes.
See with your mind as well as your eyes.
Two decades have passed since a fire swept through the dorms of Elmbridge High School. Five lives were claimed, and one student, Carly Johnson, vanished without a trace. A diary, discovered in the ruins, and written by Carly's supposed alter-ego, Kaitlyn, tells a sinister version of events that took place that night. Through psychiatric reports, witness testimonials, video footage, and the discovered diary, the horrifying truth about the Dead House unfolds.
Two sisters are trapped in a decaying house while the woods outside creep closer every day . . . woods that are bringing an inhuman creature with them.
The thrilling sequel e-novella to The Dead House! What is the truth? Find out here!
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Part-psychological thriller, part-urban legend, this is an unsettling narrative made up of diary entries, interview transcripts, film footage transcripts and medical notes. Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Five people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . .
Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.
Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?
"...a haunting new thriller..." --- EW.com
Kaitlyn/Carly Johnson is troubled. Suffering from dissociative identity disorder, Carly is awake during the day and Kaitlyn owns the night. The personalities leave each other notes to help smooth the transition; they lead separate lives. When the parents die suspiciously, Kaitlyn/Carly is moved to a psychiatric hospital and then a school for troubled teens. When a doctor integrates the personalities, Kaitlyn emerges; she believes that other forces are possessing her and trapping Carly. Then other teens go missing or are killed. This book will pique readers’ interest on multiple levels. Told through diaries, police interviews, psychiatrist’s notes, emails, video transcripts, and newspaper articles, this unique format puts the reader in the position of investigator. Finally, there is the horror component which will keep many readers anxiously waiting to see what comes next.
--- Library School Connection
A horror tale made creepier by the integration of diary entries, grainy pictures, interview transcripts, newspaper clippings, doodles, stills from video recordings, and other media, Carly/Kaitlyn’s story is told as “found footage” pieced together by followers of “the Johnson incident,” which remains an unsolved mystery. Kurtagich maintains the creepy and dark tone through to the end, where readers are not given a neat a tidy ending—ghosts still haunt, pieces of the story remain missing, and life goes on despite the terrible tragedy at the prestigious Elmbridge High School.
--- Voya (October 2015 Print Issue)
Kurtagich’s debut is a taut, psychological suspense novel centered around disturbed teenagers Carly and Kaitlyn Johnson and the horrifying series of events that culminated in a deadly fire at a residential high school. The time line is recreated through a series of police files, diary entries, transcribed video footage, and newspaper stories, revealing that Carly/Kaitlyn share the same body, with Carly occupying the daytime hours and Kaitlyn the night. The two communicate via a series of notes, and, although Carly’s therapist believes she suffers from dissociative identity disorder, it’s not clear which girl is the primary persona and which is the alter ego. When the Carly personality disappears from Kaitlyn’s consciousness, she embarks on a grisly quest to find her in the “dead house” that is her mind. Not for the faint of heart, this is a gory and grimly compelling story, made more so by the novel’s visual elements. Readers will be left wondering if the supernatural elements are real or all part of a troubled girl’s damaged mind.
"This creepy boarding school novel meshes real world issues with a paranormal mystery in a fun but scary debut... Fans of horror novels will appreciate the creepy photographs scattered throughout, and the multiple perspectives are smoothly integrates... A worthy addition to high school horror collections."
--- School Library Journal
"I do love an unreliable narrator (or two) and this endlessly twisty psychological horror manipulated from the off. A Buzz Book of the Bologna Children's Book Fair in 2014, this is Orion imprint Indigo's biggest debut title of the year."
--- The Bookseller
". . . insightful characterization and a detailed exploration of the importance of the emergent identity to the teenage self."
--- Publisher's Weekly
"What an evil and original story. You can't stop reading Kaitlyn's diary. But is she real? It's a mystery inside a mystery--and the shocks keep coming. Scary stuff!"
--- R.L. Stine, bestselling author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series
"All I could think when I finished THE DEAD HOUSE was that the author, Dawn Kurtagich, has an amazing mind. Creepy, but amazing. I loved it."
--- Christopher Pike, bestselling author of THIRST
"Full of twists, buried secrets, and enough disturbing corpses to please the most discerning horror lover, THE DEAD HOUSE is a thoroughly engrossing read. Diary entries, psychiatrist records, and transcripts from the investigation keep the pages turning late into the night. This is a harrowing tale, cleverly told."
--- Kendare Blake, author of ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD
"Kurtagich weaves a terrifying and mind-bending tale reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft. This is one of the best horror debuts I've read in a long time!"
--- J.R. Johansson, author of CUT ME FREE and The Night Walkers Series
“The Dead House is a seamless blend of the supernatural and the psychological. Creepy, compelling, and compulsively readable.”
--- Victoria Schwab, author of THE ARCHIVED and VICIOUS
'Spine-chilling,gruesome and mysterious;an exciting debut... difficult to put down,and even harder to forget'
LBYR in Global Deal for YA Debut
Alvina Ling, the executive editorial director at Little Brown Books for Young Readers, bought U.S. rights to Dawn Kurtagich’s debut YA novel, The Dead House, as part of a two-book deal. The psychological thriller was also acquired, simultaneously, in the U.K. by Jenny Glencross at Indigo (Orion’s YA imprint). Greenhouse Literary’s Sarah Davies orchestrated the U.S. sale, while Polly Nolan handled the U.K. one. Dead House, which is set for fall 2015, is about the discovery of a diary in the ruins of a high school that burned down a quarter-century earlier. The diary was written by the twin sister of a student who disappeared in the fire. LBYR said the novel is a “dark and compelling tale of lies, mystery, and deceit that will keep readers guessing until the very end.” The second book in the deal is currently untitled and unscheduled. Kurtagich, who lives in Wales but grew up in Africa, writes for YA blogs and is a member of the YA League.
Orion’s YA imprint Indigo has acquired a debut YA psychological thriller from Wales-based writer Dawn Kurtagich in a six-figure pre-empt, simultaneously with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in the US.
Indigo commissioning editor Jenny Glencross acquired the UK and translation rights for The Dead House in a two-book deal from Polly Nolan at the Greenhouse Literary Agency.
Simultaneously, Alvina Ling, executive editorial at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers acquired the US rights from Sarah Davies at Greenhouse Literary.
The Dead House is a psychological thriller based around the diary of a girl whom no-one is sure ever existed.
Glencross said the book blew her away with its “unsettling narrative” and “confident, fresh voice”. She said: “It’s utterly compelling and unforgettable, and hard to believe it’s a debut. Dawn is an exciting new YA voice and a rising star.”
Ling said: "The Dead House had me riveted from the first page, and kept me guessing until the very end. This is a book that will stay with you for a long time, a book that readers are going to be urging their friends to read, just so that they can talk about it together.”
Dawn Kurtagich's THE DEAD HOUSE, about the discovery of a diary in the ruins of a high school that burned down a quarter-century earlier, to Alvina Ling at Little, Brown Children's, and Jenny Glencross in the UK in a major deal, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in Fall 2015, by Sarah Davies in the US and Polly Nolan in the UK, both at Greenhouse Literary Agency.
THE CREEPER MAN /AND THE TREES CREPT IN
UK and US Editions
A stunning, terrifying novel about a house the color of blood and the two sisters who are trapped there, by The Dead House author Dawn Kurtagich
When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt's home, it's immediately clear that the "blood manor" is cursed. The creaking of the house and the stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too--the questions that Silla can't ignore: Who is the beautiful boy that's appeared from the woods? Who is the man that her little sister sees, but no one else? And why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer?
Filled with just as many twists and turns as The Dead House, and with achingly beautiful, chilling language that delivers haunting scenes, AND THE TREES CREPT IN is the perfect follow-up novel for master horror writer Dawn Kurtagich.
School Library Journal: June 1, 2016
And the Trees Crept In
By Dawn Kurtagich
September/ Ages 15 & Up/ $17.99
When Silla and her younger sister Nori arrive on the doorstep of their estranged aunt’s crumbling manor, they are cold, injured, and on the run from someone awful. Things start sliding into macabre territory right away, and within a few years Aunt Cath has gone mad and locked herself in the attic permanently. The two sisters and their mysterious friend (who has appeared from the forest) are trapped on the property with little food and a giant fear of both the Slender Man–type figure who may live in the woods, and the trees themselves, which appear to be closing in on them.Silla’s dreamlike and unreliable narration works hand in hand with a host of unanswered (and unasked) questions to prime readers for a twist ending, which savvy consumers of horror will figure out. There’s a bit of a romance, and the novel ends on an emotional exploration of the traumas that led to this nightmare. Kurtagich’s horror imagery is satisfying and affecting—her descriptions of the day-to-day decay the girls face are as rich and scary as the monstrous man who scuttles around on all fours and the teeming mud pits that are waiting in the woods. VERDICT A great next read for teens who enjoy being scared; purchase where horror is popular.
* “Kurtagich evokes an all-pervading atmosphere of horror with dark imagery and language evoking rot, decay, and death....This unique novel is for teens who enjoy being immersed in a dark, complex horror story.”
~~ VOYA, starred review
Kurtagich follows The Dead House with a thought-provoking exploration of familial legacy and the sibling bond. The isolated and decaying manor setting creates an immediate sense of unease, and the villain is both physically and psychologically eerie; typographic manipulations and facsimiles of burned and torn notebook excerpts play into the psychologically unstable atmosphere. Readers will find it hard to look away from this genuinely frightening story, as the sisters’ sanctuary becomes a nightmare.”
~~ Publisher’s Weekly
"Will haunt readers with its raw emotions, palpable pain, and consistent character voices... Frightening and compelling, this gothic will easily sweep fans up into its creeping sense of hysteria."
--- Kirkus Reviews
“AND THE TREES CREPT IN is a hauntingly immersive tale of insanity, terror, and what happens when you’re not even safe in your own home.”
“Horror fans will be caught by the gripping cover image, and there’s plenty to scare them here, even during the second reading that the surprise ending might encourage them to undertake.”
~~ The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:
"Dark, twisted, and terrifying, And the Trees Crept In will keep your stomach in knots from page one. A must-read for horror fans everywhere!”
~~ Susan Dennard, New York Times Bestselling author of Truthwitch and Windwitch
“AND THE TREES CREPT IN should come with a warning label: Best read in the light of day, with lots of smiling people around, and candy canes and unicorns and cute babies. A beautifully written, gorgeous nightmare of a novel.”
~~ David Arnold, Bestselling author of Mosquitolandand Kids of Appetite
“An enthralling, unsettling fairy tale that will have you turning pages long into the night.”
~~ Michelle Zink, author of This Wicked Game and Lies I Told
“A fight for survival, an encroaching forest, a cursed manor, and dark secrets… Kurtagich’s terrifying take wrapped my heart up and squeezed until I was as cold as the dead things haunting its pages.”
~~ Alexandra Sirowy, author of The Creeping and The Telling
The Dead House: NAIDA
Currently only available in US e-book format
A DIGITAL SHORT STORY FROM THE DEAD HOUSE AUTHOR DAWN KURTAGICH
There is a box. A box that should never have been discovered. And a warning beneath the lid. This was for Kaitlyn. It was a mistake. Forget this box and leave the Isle. Don't look any further.I'm begging you. N.C.D. 2005 After the inferno that swept through Elmbridge High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear, Naida Chounan-Dupré was locked away for the good of society.
But that wasn't the end of the story.
Because you can't play with the devil and not pay the price.
The chilling, psychological horror of The Dead House returns with never-before-seen footage of the Naida tapes.
For more of Dawn's videos, head over to her YouTube channel by clicking the button below:
For more details about Dawn's music, visit her YouTube Channel
My agents are the wonderful Polly Nolan (UK) and Sarah Davies (US) of the Greenhouse Literary Agency. www.greenhouseliterary.com
It's about the truth (?) behind events leading up to a tragedy, told via the diary of a girl who doesn't exist.
Sorry, no! Most authors can no longer do this. But I do recommend getting some good critical feedback. If you can find a critique group, that may work for you.
Unless I truly believe a manuscript is the bees knees, and that my agent will love it beyond measure, I don't give referrals. My agents are just too busy, and reading is very subjective. I'm sorry!
It really depends. Two of my books I wrote in a month (bad first drafts). The longest has taken a few years.
That's okay, most people can't! I'm a bit of a hodge-bodge because I grew up all over and moved so much. It's mostly British, with splashes of everywhere else.
Dawn. Ohhhhhh, you mean my surname? Exactly like it's spelled, and with a hard "g" like "golf". Kur-tah-g-ich.
The Dead House has a sequel e-novella out now! It's called The Dead House: NAIDA
I wrote about five, although one of those books has been written more than ten times from scratch and 23 times total (I know.)
I'm busy working on three new books!
Tough question! I've started putting together a Pinterest board of exactly that: Books I've loved. You can find it here.
Oops! How about you tweet it to me? I try to respond to all tweets (as of December 2014)
Writing your first novel, and everything that goes with the journey to publication can be tough! I've put together some helpful little tidbits that I hope you'll enjoy.
More coming soon!
Dawn is a YouTuber! Her channel is called WritaholicDK. You should check it out and subscribe. She loves receiving messages and comments on her videos and it's a good place to find her skulking about.
Dawn is a liver transplant survivor. When she was 25, she received the gift of life, and now she has another chance at life! She uses her new life to celebrate everything beautiful, write beautifully horrifying books and make as much music as she can. She would also like to pass on the joy and zest for life she is grateful to have.
Things she finds fascinating: mirrors, corridors, oddly shaped doors, balconies, forests, the weather, siblings, stickers, post-its, outsider art, art of the insane, Henry Darger, cellos, gum-wrapper chains (she makes them), dolls, heavy ornamentation, extremisms, body modification, life, death. Everything in between. Even you!