C. L. Taylor talks about her novel
The Lie
The following are excerpts from C. L. Taylor’s blog entries and have been posted with her permission.

Many authors face the impending publication of a new book with conflicting emotions, the two most dominant being excitement and fear, and I was no different in the run up to the publication of THE LIE.

There are a lot of ups and downs in a writing career and you have to relish the high moments to keep you going through the low ones, particularly the self-doubt and the fear. I really, REALLY struggled to get THE LIE right. I spent three months rewriting it last year and it very nearly defeated me. I’m so, so glad I didn’t give up.

Research into cult leaders and psychopaths

When I began plotting THE LIE my plan was to put four female friends into a setting that would cause the cracks in their relationships to deepen, and force the women to turn against each other. I considered several different options, including a cottage in rural Wales but it didn’t take long for me to realise that:

a) the setting had to be really remote – no internet, no mobile phones, no access to public transport

b) the setting alone wouldn’t be enough to make the women question their loyalty to each other, there had to be a catalyst. And that catalyst had to be a person. A man.

I came up with the idea that the women would all travel to Nepal to visit a remote retreat called Ekanta yatra, nestled in the beautiful Anna Purna mountain range. As stressed out career girls, living and working in London, the beautiful, tranquil retreat seems like the answer to their prayers but when something seems too good to be true it normally is. And that includes Isaac, the retreat’s magnetic, charismatic leader.

I’ve always been fascinated by cult leaders. How can one person wield so much power and command so much respect and blind loyalty that they can convince their followers to abandon their former lives and do things like steal, murder or commit mass suicide?

I did a lot of research into cult leaders before I started to put together the different elements of Isaac’s personality. I needed Isaac, my ‘leader’, to be more than a wide-eyed maniac. He needed to have light and shade. He needed to be attractive, superficially caring, charming, manipulative, cruel and ruthless. In short, he needed to be a psychopath.

Research into brainwashing and mind control

When I was in my twenties I went on a meditation retreat with a friend of mine. We were stressed and, whilst not particularly spiritual, we thought that a long weekend away from the hustle and bustle of Brighton life might help clear our minds and chill us out. The reality was an experience that was exhausting, intense and somewhat bewildering.

We were woken at 5am every day and marched off to the meditation building. Breakfast, eaten in silence and with meagre portions, was next. There were a series of seminars throughout the day and we were encouraged to open up about any traumas that had occurred in our lives. Neither of us did but we heard some pretty harrowing stories from the other people who were attending the retreat. Often the seminars went on past midnight which meant we hardly had any sleep before we were woken for meditation again. When we tried to skive a meditation session we were approached by members of the retreat, separated, and asked ‘if everything was ok’ and encouraged to continue visiting the group in their Brighton home after we returned home from the retreat.

After a couple of days of this we were both exhausted from lack of sleep, hungry from lack of food and overwhelmed by all the traumatic revelations, advice and suggestions. I suggested, only half-jokingly, that we were being recruited for a cult and my friend agreed that something very weird, and very wrong, was going on. We skived a seminar, got in my friend’s car and drove off before anyone could stop us. We headed straight for Brighton and the nearest pub and had a good laugh about our ‘lucky escape’, but not everyone who is lured into a cult is so easily able to get away.

For more information and to read the complete blog entries, please visit C. L. Taylor’s website.