About Perpetual Light
The origin of Perpetual Light was a documentary about a group of people clubbing together to buy an island so they could escape from Britain. The seed did not germinate immediately. Only when I was thinking of exotic locations in which to set a new novel did the idea and story come back to me.
I liked the complication to the protagonist that some might think the island was the original garden of Eden, and that led me on to the whole idea of the enormous power of faith. About that time I remembered an idea I had read on in some “twenty best conspiracies” article, that Jesus had married and fathered descendants, and this was the origin of the whole grail legend.
I then did a huge amount of research not only into this delicious idea, but the dead sea scrolls, the numerous gospels (not just the famous four) and all the stuff they avoided teaching me at my catholic school. I found out some remarkable things; like Jesus’ birthday actually being January. The early Christians moved it to the date of a traditional heathen mid-winter celebration as they sought to spread their new religion beyond the middle east. Then there was the whole Knights Templar story and the mysterious priories and societies throughout the middle ages.
I decided that to delve too deeply into all that would make the novel too dry, and overall open to pointless criticisms about fact and myth in history. I therefore took the speculative fiction route which always starts with the “what if?” question. What if Jesus had married and produced children. Would the descendants still be alive and traceable today? If so, what power does their mere existence provide over billions of Christians around the world?
In order to get from Jesus at point A, to a central descendant character at point B, I shamelessly mixed fact, part-fact, fiction, myth and artistic license to create a plausible backstory. However, I was always conscious that I was writing a thriller, and the exposition had to be minimal.
The central theme of Perpetual Light is the incredible power of belief. The protagonist, Jason Laing’s journey is a simple one: he is trying to escape from the constrictions of his youth and his career, believing only in small things like family and a community of his choice. A more interesting character is probably the priest, Simon Karic, the Templar assigned to him. He finds himself confronted with the son of his God, is dismayed to find him agnostic, and cannot come to terms with the revelation that his holy order has been responsible for murder, deception and manipulation for two thousand years.