Friday, August 17, 2012

Alex Preston

Alex Preston's first novel, This Bleeding City, was published by Faber and Faber in March 2010 in the UK, and across twelve further territories. It won the Spear’s and Edinburgh Festival first book prizes. His second novel, The Revelations, which came out earlier this year, is about what happens when a religious movement becomes more important than the lives of its followers.

From Preston's Q & A at the Guardian:

How did you come to write your new book?

It was difficult following up This Bleeding City. It had done much better than I (or, I suspect, Faber) had expected and with that came a vaguely paralysing sense of pressure. Long nights in front of a blank computer screen. The trash in the bottom-right corner of the desktop overflowing with scrapped drafts.

So I went back to a novel I'd loved as a teenager for inspiration. Donna Tartt's The Secret History was the book that made me want to be a writer. I remember devouring it when it first came out, aged 13. There was something about the group of friends, the sense of gothic mysteriousness, of life lived at high pitch. It also reminded me of some strange, rather beautiful people I'd met at Oxford who belonged to a secretive evangelical movement. I started with that idea of an extraordinarily close-knit group of friends and a tragedy that tests their loyalties. It didn't come easily after that, but it came.

What was most difficult about it?

Getting inside the heads of these young evangelicals. I attended a number of religious movements while researching the book, most interestingly the Alpha Course. It was fascinating and rather frightening. I didn't have a clear idea what these places did, but I was astonished to find the members speaking in tongues, having the extraordinary spiritual revelations, their priests forbidding any kinds of sexual high-jinks. I spoke to a large number of former and current members but I still found...[read on]
See Alex Preston's top ten list of fictional characters struggling with faith.

--Marshal Zeringue