Pharmakeia took longer than I anticipated to complete. It all started out as a short story (which I published as ‘Bright Fire of Morning’ in The Mechanics Institute Review 8′. You could say that this short story served as a springboard for writing ‘Pharmakeia’ the novel. In both, I was interested in the theme of temptation. Don’t we all listen to the ‘bad angel’ at moments when we know that we shouldn’t? And ignore that quiet voice of conscience?
I wanted to construct a narrative around this theme so started reading novels and watching films that portrayed Satan. I remember thinking at the time this was all a bit transgressive but, as I am wont to do, threw caution to the wind! Indeed one particular scene from Bulgokov’s ‘The Master and Margarita’ provided the inspiration for ‘Forked Tongue’ – chapter one in my novel. There was something fabulously theatrical and ‘carnivalesque’ about it all…
Films, such as ‘The Devil’s Advocate’, ‘Angel Heart’ and ‘The Ninth Gate’, similarly provided inspiration for the creation of my antagonist – Jean-Baptiste, although, admittedly none of these devils spoke French or were nowhere near as good-looking as JB!
Similarly, I researched Alistair Crowley and sex magick which helped me write the final sex magick scene where Jean-Baptiste transforms into a Sabbatic goat and Mahvand experiences moments from previous incarnations.. For me, it was important that Mahvand transgressed both creatively and sexually.