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I have a mate – just the one, as you’d expect – Dunk is his name. From time to time Dunk pitches book ideas to me. Normally they’re shit. However, one day he said to me: “Hey Al” (which was weird because we were already having a conversation at the time) “…why don’t you write a book about Jesus, but with him and his followers all being stoners?”
And I thought it wasn’t such a bad idea. Obviously I had to develop it a lot; Dunk’s a fucking idiot and his suggestions are half-baked at best, but I liked the alternative gospel idea and you can’t beat a good drug angle. So I took it a little further – into the realms of Jesus and his pals not just taking, but dealing drugs. And that led me into gangster territory.
The end result, put simply, is the Gospels meets Goodfellas. It’s actually more Sopranos than Goodfellas but where’s the alliteration in that?
It’s a comedy, there’s no doubting that, but as with Accidental Hitman (which a few of you liked) as the plot kicks in it moves into darker areas.
I hope you… well let’s be honest… I hope you buy it, but what I was going to say was I hope you enjoy it. It was fun to write but was also a complete nightmare to write. I have tried to be as ‘faithful’ to the gospels as possible but I confess that I took a huge amount of poetic license throughout, both so I could tell a good, funny story and also because the gospels don’t all sing from the same hymn sheet (pun intended).
Tempting as it was to write in ancient Hebrew. I opted instead to go with a modern vernacular. Believe it or not I did exercise a great deal of discipline in terms of the vocabulary. For example, I found myself using the line “Jesus had his trademark air of calm” before realising that the first-person narrator wouldn’t have known what a trademark was. Okay, I know Jesus wouldn’t have said “You’re such a fucker” either, but there was some method to it. Honest.
Fair play to you if you are, but I’m not religious. I have always been intrigued by the Bible though, especially the impact it continues to have on people’s lives so many years after it was conceived. People often say how the Old Testament contains all the ‘crazy’ stuff and that the New Testament is all peace and love – but that’s not completely true. The New Testament is pretty extreme in places and Jesus was a bit of a stickler – and he didn’t seem to have liked his disciples much. It’s been fascinating reading it and trying to ease it all into a compelling narrative. I am in debt to E.P. Sanders for his marvellous book, The Historical Figure of Jesus, a copy of which has kept me company throughout this process and is now very dog-eared indeed. I thought about writing to him to thank him but he’s a serious scholar and would probably tell me not to sully his reputation with my puerile nonsense. I highly recommend his book, it’s a fascinating portrayal of the actual evidence of Jesus’ existence set against the political and religious climate at the time and his depiction in the Good Book.
I’ve got to say it, I’m really excited to have a new novel out. I wasted a long time working on one that I ditched because of its crapness, so it’s a joy to have one completed that I’m really happy with and can get behind. Thank you to all those who have geed me along, there won’t be such a delay before the next one.