The Story of a Gene
XQ-28: The Story of a Gene
The power of words is directly proportional to their poetry. Some narratives dictate allegiance, demand to be believed without enquiry. Each phrase spits do not think do not question - I am the truth. Others inebriate themselves with diffidence. They fudge and shuffle towards some tentative suggestion then collapse exhausted into comfortable whimsy.
But on the day the sun shines with a glint in its eye, when you trip lightly down between the sky and the city, and come to earth gleaming with the passion of life, a star falls and is caught ‘twixt sheets in the speech of an angel and sings. You reach out and touch the four corners of its cover, your eyes widen, your lips part and you whisper
‘He is showering me with mimosa from his sleeping mouth...
began this novel in the aftermath of the first Gulf War, at a time when personal freedom seemed under attack from all sides, when a police investigation code-named Operation Spanner resulted in the imprisonment of a group of men for indulging in what everyone at the time agreed was consensual sexual activity. The findings of the presiding judge in the resulting case [R vs Smith] was that it was now illegal to make a mark on a person’s body that lasted any longer than four hours.
Although not in the slightest bit interested in sado-masochism - I’ve always been somewhat of a vanilla boy myself - it struck me as terrifying that this was happening at a time when the State was sending thousands of troops to war and consigning tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians to the dustbin of history. I began writing the novel a few months later. As I was also working on many other projects, the book progressed slowly; my attitude to it was: it was something I could always return to when funding for other projects was not available. All I needed was a computer, my brain and what Virginia Wolfe laughingly referred to as 'a room of one's own'.
When, many years later, my first ever gay relationship ended abruptly, it seemed the right time to complete the text. In 2003 I went to Morocco, and wrote every day. On my return, I was made artist-in-residence at The Bluecoat Arts Centre. I finished the novel on the last day of 2003.