When I was writing Leaving Gilead I was all the time aware of the need to make my subject believable – and when that subject is a religious movement with beliefs and attitudes that are just plain unbelievable, it can be a bit tricky at times. The religion underlying my story was the Jehovah's Witnesses but I knew that if I showed things as they really are for many people, lots of readers simply would not believe it. The solution was a semi-fictional religious group, the Fellowship of Gilead, which I intended to be clearly based upon the Jws but which might appear realistic. And my novel traced the stories of Susan and Melanie as they freed themselves from the irrationality with which they had been brought up.
Since writing Leaving Gilead I have reconnected with the online ex-Jw community and many of the personal accounts I have heard have echoed what I portrayed in my novel. One which I read today stands out. If Anna Macaluso's story were offered as fiction who would say it is anything like reality? But Anna's story is not fiction, it is reality. It is scarcely credible that this young woman (and there are thousands of people like her) should be forced to resort to clandestine efforts to receive the medical treatment without which she would have died.