How to create a dark story in a stereotypically “bright,” friendly place
That was never a problem for me. No place is a halcyon. Everywhere has problems and issues. Katherine Anne-Porter who is an amazing author and one of my favourite short story writers once said, “In the nicest houses people do the worst things to one another.” That saying stayed with me throughout writing the novel and reminded me of the story I wanted to tell. In some ways I don’t feel the story is as dark as it could have been. In I Claudius (the inspiration for the novel) there are far worse things including murder so I had to actually scale things down somewhat for the story to make it more believable in a modern setting. What I did not realize until I began reading it again after all this time is how malicious it is, but it was so enjoyable to write I completely forgot about that aspect of it. This was what the characters I had created would do and I just immersed myself in their behaviour. I didn’t really concentrate on the darkness; I just wanted to make the reader understand why they did what they did. I suppose I am drawn to literature that explores characters and novels that feel like studies in human behaviour because I find the human animal endlessly fascinating. It just so happens that in my first novel I chose to explore the more darker parts.