My first book, Counting the Days to Armageddon, was a serious study of a religious movement - Jehovah's Witnesses - on the fringe of christianity. That was ages ago I've no longer any intention to write anything else in a similar vein. But religions fascinate me. And I'm especially fascinated by the stories I have heard (and continue to hear) from people who have broken free from authoritarian religion. So when I set out to weave a novel around such a story, the wacky group of believers which I describe will be the same one I wrote about in Counting the Days, right? Wrong.
There are similarities, of course, between my fictional Fellowship of Gilead and the Jehovah's Witnesses, but there are big differences as well. So I hope readers will not respond with, 'Hey, that's us you portray in such a terrible light. And you've got it all wrong.' No, it's not you – and it's not wrong either. It's an accurate portrayal of a fictional group. With lots in common with all sorts of groups.
What interests me greatly is how often I spot close similarities between movements on the fringe and groups within the mainstream. It's so easy to describe those fringe groups as 'cults' but it is very unhelpful – because it encourages the assumption that the problems associated with such groups and the damage they can cause are not to be found within the mainstream. They are.
The Snig's Foot is the story of two very different women, Susan Ridley and Melanie Blain, members of the same family who escape from the movement they were brought up in. Escaping is hard enough but building a new life is also tough. And Susan's and Melanie's stories will echo those of lots of others who have also had to leave their past behind.
I hope that The Snig's Foot will be finished by next spring. It's been a long time in the writing but it has gone through several major re-workings so that it isn't easy to say when I began what I am now finishing.