“One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.”
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
From a very young age, I was fascinated by the religious beliefs held by others around me, and in later life I found myself drawn to writings on purported cases of possession and conversion experiences. I became deeply absorbed in the question of why and how people can believe the scientifically impossible, and read a great deal about group-think, mass hysteria and conversion.
My particular interest is the extent to which we can maintain free will and free thought in the face of social and religious control.
The Salvation series explores these ideas through fiction: Olivia is an outsider and cannot submit herself to group-think – but she is also haunted by the suspicion that even her own convictions have been shaped by the will of others.
My latest novel is set in a dystopian world in which the country is controlled by Preachers. It is a thought-experiment into the extremes of evangelism, a terrifying glimpse into a world that values belief and compliance above free will.
“She’s awake. Should she be?”
The driver shrugs his enormous shoulders.
“What’s it matter now? Half an hour and she’s their problem.”
It’s dark. Rain is hitting the windows. Orange lights pass overhead.
The back of the driver’s seat is black with scuff marks. I look down at my legs: bare feet and Hello Kitty PJs. Kitty helps me sleep, Mummy says.
Where is Mummy?
My forearm is red and sore. I rub at the letters. It hurts and the letters stay put. I can read them: I’m a big girl now. But what are they doing on the inside of my arm?
My eyes begin to close.
What do the letters mean? Sound them out …