While writing Cold Light, I did loads of research on light. I was mainly interested in the creepy light that came out of some kinds of jellyfish and squid, fire-flies and glow-worms, some kinds of mushrooms and angler fish. Also, the light that comes from television sets. Kinds of light that do not also make things hot.
I am not all together excellent at doing research, so most of my it involved reading things that I didn’t really understand, misunderstanding, looking at pictures and rooting about for something interesting. I knew I’d know it when I found it, or at least, a long time after I’d read about it and copied it into my note-book, I’d know why I found it interesting.
Not knowing much about science and not quite understanding everything I read even though I was interested in it was okay too, because the character I was researching for was also an interested amateur who read more than he understood and had big, silly ideas. I wasn’t so much finding out things as I was practising being someone I wanted to write about.
I’m still not sure about what got me started on light and bioluminescence. I remember first reading an article about it in 2007 so it’s been an interest of mine for ages. I knew I wanted to write about it, and to write about television, and about big ideas and silly ideas and things that seemed too far-fetched and wonderful to be true.
My writing comes to me first through objects. The domestic clutter that ends up being part of the fabric of the book – both setting and plot. When I think about A Kind of Intimacy I see tins of golden syrup and woodchip wallpaper and kitchen roll with grease spots on, semi detached houses, air-beds and tea-pots. When I think about Cold Light I see television sets flickering in darkened empty rooms, and the way that I can see the blue light from people’s televisions moving behind their curtains when I’m walking about at night.