From the Author
They are, but Orange prize-winner Francesca Kay said that she sees noreason why inexperienced novelists should avoid the big issues. I wanted tobring the premise down to one very simple question: what happens to an ordinaryfamily when their daughter claims to be seeing visions. Of course the dynamicsof the family will shift, but can they survive it?
What was your ownreligious upbringing and how has this influenced the novel.
I wasbrought up as a Catholic. As a child, my life was filled with mythical beingsand stories of great journeys and courage: of avenging angels; St George and theDragon; Jonah and the whale; Noah and his ark; Jack and the Beanstalk; Danielin the lions' den. Be itBothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson or the Old Testament, our imaginationswere fuelled. Nobody seemed to consider that children may not be ableto distinguish between stories and 'the truth', and truth, as we know, is very important tochildren. In those days, I didn't think that there was any difference betweenGod and Father Christmas. But heaven forbid you should confuse fairies with angels, and soyou were expected to learn: The Bible is true, Jack and the Beanstalk isn't.Except that it doesn't end there. 'What, God didn't really create the world inseven days?' 'No, that is just an illustration.' 'But everything else is true?''Yes, everything else is true.' 'Including the Prodigal Son?' 'No, that's aparable. Parables are stories that illustrate issues and have moral endings.''Like fairy tales?' 'No! Not like fairy tales.' And now that we have so muchmore knowledge and archaeological evidence, it is being suggested that more andmore of what we were taught was true was illustrative.
Everyone worries how children will reactwhen they find out that Father Christmas doesn't exist. They spend far lesstime worrying about the moment when their child stops believing in God. There's very little preparation for that. With Santa Claus, theimpact is softened by the fact that stockings are still filled withpresents. Where is the softener with regards to God? Who's leftsteering the ship?
But you don't become a lapsed Catholic overnight. I havereturned to church many times over the years: when suffering from depression;for births and marriages; and particularly when mourning the loss of friends. Religion brings people together to offer comfort and support and tocelebrate life's big events. I miss so much about it: singing in a big choir;the setting aside of Sunday as a special day. And then, later, my work in insurance, forcedme to deal with that wonderful question, 'What is an 'Act of God'? A legal termthat's still in use.