The Stage Mother's Club

By Ron Capshaw

The Stage Mother's Club, a novel by Ron Capshaw
Book details

It is amazing what can inspire a writer. A little thought worm can drill itself into their head and the only peace to be found is to write the thing out. Ron Capshaw’s inspiration for The Stage Mother’s Club seems to be the author’s fascination with all the failed stage Mums who could not get their child the role as Regan in The Exorcist. Are they happy that their child missed all the grisly acting and exposure or upset that their vicarious chance for fame slipped away. If their child had starred in the fictionalised film contained within these pages, they would praise all that they found holy that their child was spared the horrors that poor Johnny Jenkins had to life through and still haunts him years later. 

Johnny Jenkins never had the easiest of home lives, but it became far worse when his mother pushed him to star in ‘The Damned,’ an exorcism movie that may have been more realistic than the audience realise. Years later Johnny has changed his name several times, spent times in the Special Forces and writes novels under another nom de plume. One thing he does not have is peace. He is blanking out and having flashbacks to the days of filming. The only way that Johnny can think of exorcising these new demons is to take revenge on those that forced him to work on the film, including his own mother. 

There is something thrilling about having an untrustworthy protagonist at the centre of your novel as the reader can never really trust what they are seeing. Johnny is untrustworthy on many levels. He drinks, takes drugs, has flashbacks and blackouts. Johnny is also one of four or more names he has used during his lifetime in an attempt to separate himself from his youth. Despite all his hard edges, he is a sympathetic character. Even during his acts of revenge, you get the sense that he is the victim. 

There is a nice edge to Stage Mother. It is grindhouse in places and reminded me of the twisted work of Chuck Palahniuk, especially his Invisible Monsters. The book does not shy away from some uncomfortable taboos, this is a book that has devil worshippers within. As a reader you are torn between supporting Johnny’s righteous tirade of revenge and questioning why he is so messed up. 

Capshaw reveals the details of making ‘The Damned,’ and Johnny’s role in the film, in the form of flashbacks and confessions. The book has a mystery element to it as we get closer to the truth. However, this being a book of misdirection, what is the truth? There are enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing to the very last page.  

Written on 17th June 2022 by .

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