Allen & Unwin
See You In September by Charity Norman is a 'dazzling, gripping new novel about a young woman lured into the clutches of a doomsday cult'.
Here's a teaser: It was supposed to be a short trip—a break in New Zealand before her best friend's wedding. But when Cassy waved goodbye to her parents, they never dreamed that it would be years before they'd see her again.
In today's guest post, author Charity Norman provides some more information on The Cult Leader's Manual, a fictional pamphlet referred to in See You In September.
Be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour below.
The Cult Leader’s ManualIn See You In September, I included a fictional pamphlet called The Cult Leader’s Manual: Eight steps to Mind Control. I originally had twelve steps, but that broke up the flow of the story so I edited them! The precise strategy varies, but these techniques in some form are used by all kinds of outfits: military interrogators, terrorist groups, destructive cults - even abusive partners.
There’s a common pattern. A group will identify a new recruit, often someone who’s vulnerable at that moment. Then they’ll love-bomb them, showering a cascade of affection and acceptance. At this stage everyone is smiling, joyous, demonstrating that their way of life has made them happy. It’s basically advertising, and they are salespeople.
The true belief system may be revealed only gradually. Many groups introduce rigid rules and discipline, even a new vocabulary; they demand that the recruit gives up their money and their autonomy, even abandoning their own families. There may be restrictions on sleep and nutrition. Many such groups have a self-proclaimed, charismatic leader who expects absolute loyalty.
It was upsetting to read about the vicious abuse that’s gone on in some organisations. I remember a harrowing video about a destructive cult, in which a mother described being forced to belt her own toddler. That was the moment she realised she had to get out – but she was still traumatised, years later.
It isn’t always about religion. I came across someone who lost their family member to a group that claimed to provide couple therapy. ‘Therapy’ involved group sex, and the surrender of their savings and their freedom to a controlling leader. It was the opposite of therapeutic. It destroyed their marriage and their lives. As the family member said, you never think it could happen to you – until it does.
See You In September by Charity Norman is a powerful story of family, faith and finding yourself. It's an unputdownable new novel published by Allen & Unwin and is available now, RRP $29.99.