The concept of free will is one of the major questions of neuroscience. It’s a controversial question, since there seems to be evidence for both sides of the argument. Importantly, though, it is hard to think of ourselves without free will, without the capacity for choice, so there is a bias towards believing in it that goes back at least as far as the the story of Adam and Eve in the bible. And possibly further.

Very often for me a new novel begins with a question. It’s a question I can’t answer – otherwise there would be no point in exploring it further by writing a novel.

In the case of Reservoir the question was: How do we cope with shame or guilt?

This led rapidly to other questions, such as:

What if you did something bad as a child?

At the age of 10, say, which in England is the Age of Criminal Responsibility?

Should you be forgiven for it?

Should you forgive yourself for it?

How do you forgive?

Can you be quite sure you’ve remembered it truly?

Do other people remember it the same way?

What if there was no such thing as free will?

How differently would we view ourselves?

How differently would we view other people?

And so a piece of writing that I thought initially might be a short story, turned into a novel…

Reservoir published by Salt, March 2023

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