I was in the queue at Tesco one day a couple of years ago, bickering with my partner about waiting for a cashier when the self-checkouts were available. I refuse to put people out of work, you see, whereas he just wants to get out of the shop.
The woman who scanned out groceries was in her 60s, chatty and fun. She had a laugh and a joke for each customer and everyone left her till with a bit more of a smile on their face. I began to wonder what would happen to her when the automation takeover was complete.
Also rattling around in my head was an idea I’d been spouting over late-night drinkies for years: people who want to be politicians are the least suitable for any sort of power. The book was born before we got our bags of shopping home. I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen of course, I sat down with a couple of characters in my head and an opening scene. Queenie dictated the rest. Well, sort of.
Many patient and kind beta-readers helped to massage her into shape and I am forever in their debt. They also decided that there was a trilogy to be had, since they wanted to know what happened next. I am a sucker for flattery, hence the Queenie Chronicles are now a thing.
The barmy antics of some of Queenie’s colleagues felt far fetched at the time. This was a romp, not a treatise; a bit of fun with a few serious questions hiding at the back and trying not to make a fuss. But in the intervening years the world has caught up, life imitating art frighteningly fast. This is now a post-Brexit, post-Trump novel, written before either Brexit or Trump were political things.
This is either a good or a bad thing.