If my books have a common preoccupation, it’s memory, identity, people who are made fragile by a buried past, a future they can’t face. Unusual ways we can be haunted. How we seek people and places we belong with. Also, a quality that DH Lawrence scholars describe as ‘aliveness’ – the sense that we are full of passions we don’t understand.
I’m drawn to situations that are rich with metaphor. One of my guiding lights is Ray Bradbury, who described how he found more inspiration in the fantastic than in the everyday – although I do not write fantasy. Neither do I write science fiction, although one of my novels (Lifeform Three) uses SF traditions.
My Memories of a Future Life uses the conventions of the reincarnation story, turned the other way round. You might call that science fiction, or you might say it’s like Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life or Iain Banks’s The Bridge – a kind of metaphysical licence.
But Ever Rest doesn’t have any SF or fantasy elements. It’s just contemporary fiction. I prefer the definition used by Ursula K LeGuin – I am simply a novelist. I don’t fit in a pigeonhole. I’m all over.
My creative process is a search, as I explore an idea, but it’s just as true to say I let the idea explore me, reveal why it bothers me. I use temporary titles, which give me permission to be rough and experimental until the gaps are joined.
We’ve all heard about reincarnation stories where a person is hypnotised and put in touch with a past life. But if it’s possible to have a former life, might we have other, next, lives – forwards, down the line? What might we be doing to that person? What if you could see it? Who would do that? Why would they keep going there – and at the same time, dread what it might show them?
Welcome to My Memories of a Future Life.
Many years ago I bought a horse, and became aware that I was living in two worlds. One world was very technological, where computers filter our experience and enable us to function. The other world was very ancient, tuned to the rhythms of nature and the land. Moreover, the woodland I rode through was full of history, the remnants of an older world, which day by day we’re erasing with our buildings, vehicles and our trusted software. What kind of humans does that make us and what are we losing? Lifeform Three is a science fiction fable about an artificial human who works in the last oasis of countryside. His brain is regularly wiped so that he can perform efficiently, but when he starts to have dreams he realises he has personal memories he wants to find again – and keep, whatever the cost. More here
My current WIP is Ever Rest, formerly known as The Mountains Novel.