The Self Preservation Society

When I was eleven, my career plans were entirely based around the likelihood of securing a place in a nuclear bunker.

My number one choice was to become a doctor. I even worked out which universities seemed to be furthest from potential Russian bomb targets (I think Dundee was high on my list), and sent off for the prospectuses.

It took my best friend to point out the fatal flaw in my plan: I was afraid of blood.

That was the eighties, of course, when you couldn’t switch on the telly without seeing Midge Ure dancing with tears in his eyes, or watching Sheffield being blasted into oblivion with a ten megaton warhead in Threads. And in my case, living a mile up the road from Greenham Common probably didn’t help. Back in 1984 we were all convinced we’d be reduced to fall-out before we had chance to lose our virginity.

Twenty-five years on, most of us have grown out of childhood fears. In my case, the fears have diminished as I get older. Dentists and ‘planes still scare me but both are necessary evils.

But phobias can rule your life – so in The Self-Preservation Society, I created the character of Jo, who is imprisoned by fear. She’s scared to fly, scared to change job, scared to stand up to her uptight boyfriend. Until a serious accident lands her in a coma: will she finally wake up to what she’s been missing?

The book is full of crazy accident statistics and loveable characters, like ex-fighter pilot Frisky Van Belle who is determined to help Jo take risks. It has a handsome hero, yes, but most of all, it’s about falling in love with life. If you’ve ever worried about what’s around the next corner, then I hope you’ll be rooting for the Jo the Scaredycat to find her own happy ending.

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