The Patient is available on AMAZON in print, on Kindle, and as an audio book!
There is nothing quite like having your debut novel published! It’s a day that every author dreams of. Jasper DeWitt is one such author who is getting that experience. His debut novel, The Patient, has just hit shelves, and it’s already received heaps of praise from readers and reviewers. We recently caught up with Jasper and got a chance to ask him a few questions.
Below is The Patient’s premise:
In a series of online posts, Parker H., a young psychiatrist, chronicles the harrowing account of his time working at a dreary mental hospital in New England. Through this internet message board, Parker hopes to communicate with the world his effort to cure one bewildering patient.
We learn, as Parker did on his first day at the hospital, of the facility’s most difficult, profoundly dangerous case—a forty-year-old man who was originally admitted to the hospital at age six. This patient has no known diagnosis. His symptoms seem to evolve over time. Every person who has attempted to treat him has been driven to madness or suicide.
Desperate and fearful, the hospital’s directors keep him strictly confined and allow minimal contact with staff for their own safety, convinced that releasing him would unleash catastrophe on the outside world. Parker, brilliant and overconfident, takes it upon himself to discover what ails this mystery patient and finally cure him. But from his first encounter with the mystery patient, things spiral out of control, and, facing a possibility beyond his wildest imaginings, Parker is forced to question everything he thought he knew.
Hi Jasper! Thank you to agreeing to this interview. Congratulations on your debut novel’s publication. How are you feeling right now on the eve of The Patient’s release?
It’s honestly still hard to believe it’s real. This story started as a random distraction that I’d work on late at night at the local all-night IHOP. I never in a million years thought this story would be anything more than something that entertained people on the internet, let alone something that would provide my entree into both the publishing and entertainment industry.
The Patient offers a very unique thriller through the eyes of Parker. How did the idea for this novel begin?
Well, as the title might suggest, it started with the concept for the “Patient” himself. So spoilers alert. I have struggled with self-loathing my entire life, and I noticed that whenever someone said something cruel about me, no matter how unfair, I found myself believing it. At a certain point, it occurred to me that someone who not only believed other peoples’ insults, but changed so as to make them true, would be a fantastic concept for a horror villain. From there, I reverse engineered the rest of the story around that simple idea.
Several early reviews have compared your novel to Alex Michaelides’ The Silent Patient. Was that an inspiration for this work?
Fun fact: I still haven’t read The Silent Patient. In fact, the first I heard of “The Silent Patient” was when my editor at Houghton Mifflin compared my book to it. I’ve since become familiar enough with the reception it got to know what an honor that comparison is, but no, it wasn’t an inspiration for the story. I didn’t even know the book existed when I wrote “Patient.”
Speaking about your journey as an author, how was the experience in getting your first novel published? Did you have to deal with the struggles of rejection that many other authors experience?
Yes, but weirdly enough, not when it comes to this book. I did try my hand at writing fantasy before I got into this, and tried to get agents interested in a fantasy novel even as I was writing “Patient.” Everyone said “no.” Maybe some day I’ll drag that old novel out of mothballs, but just now, I’m enjoying my place as a horror/thriller writer. But when it comes to “Patient,” the process actually ran weirdly in reverse from how it usually works. Usually you get a literary agent, then a publisher, and then if you’re lucky your story gets Hollywood interest. “Patient” started off getting interest from Hollywood in its original form on reddit, then got interest from Houghton Mifflin, which then got me a literary agent to negotiate the publishing deal. So really, all the success “Patient” had was not only something I didn’t expect, but something I never even contemplated until it happened.
Many authors often put pieces of themselves into their characters and story. Did you draw any inspirations from your personal life for The Patient?
Well, as I said, my struggles with self-loathing inspired the titular character, and yeah, there were definitely elements beyond that which take inspiration from my personal life. For instance, the story is set around the area where I went to college, and the hospital where it takes place is based on a real (though as far as I know, not supernatural) mental hospital in that area. Dr. Rose G. is very much based on a real friend of mine, who I must add was flattered by the depiction when she read the story. There are other stray influences in the book, but really, the personal elements were more Easter Eggs I threw in to either keep myself grounded in the setting, or to amuse my friends who I knew would read it. Most of what’s in there is wholly invented.
For a last, fun question: when The Patient becomes a feature film, who do you want directing and who do you want to play Parker?
Well, as directors go, Andy and Barbara Muschietti. Ari Aster and Mike Flanagan have already made clear that they’re fans of the book, and I must say the admiration is mutual. I also think there’s a lot that David Fincher or Christophe Gans would be able to bring out in the more hallucinatory sequences. But really, I’ll defer to the producers on the question of who should direct — they’ll know how to judge that better than me. As far as Parker, the actor who’s always been in the back of my mind has been John Boyega: he can play that combination of empathy and having a chip on his shoulder for being underestimated extremely well. While I know he’s British, based on the Star Wars films, I also think his American accent is spotless. I could also see his costar Oscar Isaac doing it, or Michael B. Jordan, or even John Cho. But like I said, these are questions the producers will probably hammer out better than me.
Be sure to gray your copy of The Patient today!