‘You don’t know how significant you are. We need you.’
No matter where she is, Deirdre feels out of place. So when a cult known as the Center contacts her, wanting her join up, she’s intrigued. They say a terrible war is coming, humanity is in danger and without explaining why, say she’s needed for the fight. Suddenly the chance to be spectacular is within her grasp. With the charismatic Myra as the cult leader, and talk of prophecies and psychic abilities, Deirdre is soon seduced and ditches her humdrum life to join up.
Once inside, her understanding of the world shifts. She learns the truth about the elite, a secret organisation that has meddled with humanity since the beginning of time. The elite use entertainment and the media as a constant distraction to stop people from reaching their true potential. To free themselves of this conditioning, the followers must give up ‘excessive’ food and sleep. They also carry out increasingly bizarre rituals under the critical eye of the Captain, a minor leader of the new followers. He seems to take pleasure from turning them against one another.
Tensions increase. The followers gain odd new abilities, but bullying and hysteria also grow. Meanwhile Myra’s prophecies become increasingly extreme. As paranoia intensifies, Deirdre questions where the belief ends, and delusion begins.
MY INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
- When did you know that you wanted to be an author?
I was nine when I first started trying to write a book, although I didn’t get very far, I was much better at daydreaming ideas than writing them down. I loved science fiction, so that first book was essentially a rip off of Day of the Triffids but with more spaceships. It ended with the human race being saved by a girl, who just so happened to be nine, who blew up the spaceship with her on it. I thought this was the perfect tragic ending.
- What inspired you to write this book?
I recently discovered my grandparents were in cult-like religions, and it made sense of many confusing memories. That set me thinking about what leads people to join cults, and how the need to believe can overcome all reason. Plus I’ve always had a fascination for religious stories and conspiracy theories, and with this book I was able to bring the two together.
- If you could sell this book in one sentence what would it be?
Peddling Doomsday is a gripping psychodrama about a woman who abandons her corporate job to join a messianic cult promising to reveal the terrible secrets of humanity.
- What are you up to next?
I’ve started writing a book that goes back to my love of science fiction and John Wyndham’s talent for making futuristic ideas relatable. It’s the story of an alien race who’ve had enough of human cruelty, and decide they’re going to get rid of all violent people. It explores the idea of good and evil in an oppressive utopia with no free will, where everyone is nice because they have no choice. The story is seen through the eyes of a father who is working to keep people following the alien rules so they don’t get hurt, and his teenage daughter who joins a secret rebellion.
- Who is your biggest inspiration?
My brother was a huge inspiration growing up, his imagination was infinite. He’d invent whole worlds, with histories and languages, and curious people to live in them. I think he’s the reason I have such a need to invent ideas, and to experience the world through my characters’ eyes. Real life is good, but I wouldn’t want to be stuck in it all the time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Petra Jacob had her first book, Riddled with Senses, published by Dr Cicero Books last year. It’s a magic realism tale of love, drugs and witchcraft.
During her haphazard life she’s lived in a condemned bedsit in Cambridge, a gated community in Mexico City, a rain forest in Central America and a derelict haunted house in Chile. She’s worked as a gardener, a teacher, a factory worker and a sandwich-maker. Currently she lives in south east London but likes to escape to the jungle whenever possible. Jacob is fond of monkeys, slime mould and cake.