'She throws her head back and pushes her chest forward and lets go a huge blast right into the centre of his body. The rivulets and streams of red scarring run across his chest and up around his throat. She'd put her hand on his heart and stopped him dead.'
My new novel, The Power, is published by Penguin on 27th October 2016. It's a piece of feminist science fiction - or speculative fiction, or fiction about a fictional thing rather than a real thing (curious concept). In the novel, very suddenly almost all the women in the world develop the power to electrocute people at will. Anything from a tiny tingle all the way to full electro-death. And then everything is different.
The novel follows four main characters as they pick their way across this changed world. There's Roxy, the daughter of a London crime family with three older brothers; she was never supposed to take over the family business but she starts to have other ideas. There's Tunde, a young journalism student in Lagos, who sees that the revolution needs documenting, and gets himself into some dicey situations trying to be the one to do it. There's Allie, who comes from a troubled background in the South of the USA and sees that what people need is something new to believe in. And there's Margot, who was a low-level politician in New England but begins to have new ambitions.
It's a novel of ideas - what would happen if women had the power to cause pain and destruction? Do we really believe that women are naturally peaceful and nurturing? How much of gender is in our expectations of violence? But it's also a thriller; in pursuit of power each of the main characters will eventually come into conflict with the others, and they're each a force to be reckoned with.
At the novel's heart is the question of power: who has it, how do you get it, what does it do to you when you've got it? And when you wield the power, how long will it be before the power wields you?