It is an irresistible story: a forger tries to take down an established religion by rewriting its history. Ambitious. Devilishly so. All true so far. Believing himself caught and with nowhere to turn he takes very desperate measures, which spiral out of control. People die. Innocent people. And that, in a nutshell, is what inspired me to write Bobbi Lomax. For years I became obsessed with the original case and the half-genius half-devil accused of such deadly actions. I wanted to tell his story to the world. But surely that would be documentary. And I am not a documentary maker. And, so I chose to use the original case as an inspiration springboard and instead of documentary, fictionalise it and mesh the story as a dual narrative novel, one half key suspect, one half cops – mostly our lead character, Marty Sinclair, and hopefully weave together elements of a police procedural (they cops are, after all, trying to find a killer). The alternate chapters juxtapose the life of that key suspect. I’d never seen that done before, so I wanted to try and see if it would work for this narrative. Small town America is ripe with great stories and great characters. We’ve all seen the movies. But I wanted to take readers into an unfamiliar world, that of a deeply religious town that’s almost cloistered, and set these strange and macabre events against that societal backdrop. To do this, it was very important to make the cops outsiders. Marty has been born there, but chosen to move away, before returning. His detective partner Alvarez, originally Mexican, has settled in L.A. as a child before both men – for reasons we don’t find out yet, have chosen to move back to Marty’s home town. As outsiders they are the readers ears and eyes in their scenes. We see the town and its inhabitants through their eyes and Marty’s history with its residents helps guide our way. The character, who becomes their key suspect in the bombings, is also an outsider, but unlike them is by all appearances a devout member of their community, highly connected and respected by The Faith. But which is he: genius or devil? You decide.
The Killing of Bobbi Lomax is published by Faber