January 20, 2023
The combers live like spiders among endless underground tunnels linked by rope networks amd slippery rockfaces whilst in the beautiful city overhead, live the Abovers. These two worlds should never meet, but when the body of a murdered Abover appears in the catacombes below, their worlds begin to draw closer. Action packed, tense and brilliantly imagined, Basilisk will draw you into a dark and disturbing world.
Basilisk is a story which grew out of several disparate elements:
I had started a SF story about a boy who lived underground in some strange underworld peopled by criminals and outcasts. He was a street wise teenagers called ‘Rej’ as in ‘reject.’ I liked the character but the story didn’t go anywhere.
Several years ago I was in Amboise, a medieval French village and saw a chateau where Leonardo da Vinci had spent some time. There was an exhibition of his designs for weapons and warcraft and I thought how interesting it might have been if someone like him had turned his attention to chemical/psychological warfare instead. The Loire valley in France also has many troglodyte communities too, which also got me thinking.
I have always loved the idea of dragons and stories about dragons and, as I know they are popular with other people too, I thought it would be fun to write a story about dragons.
I love Florence and was very interested in the ruthless way in which politics was carried out in the Renaissance city states and fascinated by the power of a charismatic religious leader like Savaranola. I’m not sure those elements ended up as the story of ‘Basilisk’ but then ideas have a habit of developing in unexpected directions. I think I was heavily influenced by three books: George Orwell’s 1984, Margaret Atwood’s: The Handmaid’s Tale and a much less well known YA SF book I found in a second hand book shop and read first as a child Dark Universe: Daniel F Galouye about a society living underground after a nuclear war. I wanted to create an atmosphere of oppression and fear and keep the reader uncertain as to the outcome of the novel. I enjoyed making up the swear words that are the bed rock of Rej’s speech patterns. I asked my children to come up with as many as they could think of and went on from there. I always check my dialogue with my children anyway – the kiss of death for a novel is to have everyone speaking like a middle aged British woman!