Extract from Sceptre catalogue, Spring 2008
I started writing this novel without the slightest clue what it was about or where it was going, or even what characters were in it. I sat up in bed one night with a pen and a refill pad, and I started writing faster and faster, anything at all, trying to override my stream of consciousness in order to tap into something worth writing about. An hour later, I had pages and pages of gibberish and one solitary paragraph that stood out like a gold thread in a dark suit. It was a description of the living room of a house belonging to a character named Norman Valentine. I knew that something terrible was going to happen in that room and I couldn't wait to find out what it was. And with that, Confessions of a Fallen Angel was conceived. As a child, I had a copy of The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales that I kept going back to. I loved the clearly defined lines between good and evil, and the supernatural elements that infused each of those stories. When I became an adult however, I put away childish things and I read serious books written for grown-ups. And when I began to write, I had no agenda other than to write a book that I would enjoy reading. Whenever I pick up a novel, there are only two boxes that need to be ticked in order to ensure my enjoyment of it; it has to be believable and it cannot be boring. And when I decided to write a book, those were the only criteria that I kept in mind. But the early influence of the brothers Grimm felt like a Siren, pulling my novel on to the rocks. And so I started to wonder if perhaps there was a way in which I could introduce a magical or supernatural element to the book, while still maintaining complete credibility. I turned to the ancient Greeks for inspiration. I was familiar with the mythological figure of Cassandra who had the gift of prophecy but was cursed with the proviso that no-one would ever believe her predictions, and I had also studied Sophocle's play Oedipus Rex where the hero's attempt to thwart destiny leads directly to his downfall. And so I took these ideas and I rekindled them in the life of a contemporary everyman figure, somebody so ordinary that we don’t even need to know his name. He is the person sitting opposite you on the train who never makes eye contact with anyone for the duration of the journey; he is the man standing behind you while you queue for coffee at Starbuck's; he is the one who empties your bins and restocks the supply of plastic cups by the water cooler. And just maybe, that person could turn out to be an angel.