Author's intro

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Paperback; and E-Book, including Films and Video-Book and Audio-Book


Hi, and thanks for being here.

This novel The Imagination Thief is illegal, immoral and fattening. It's joyfully dark and wayward, and it's no proper reading for the innocent of mind or the fragile of ears, being the written equivalent of a five-layered chocolate cake containing an entire bottle of Wray & Nephew over-proof rum (63% alcohol by volume) and a cocktail of controlled substances. Category-wise, you could call it literary fiction with a touch of magical realism and a dusting of horror.

Sometimes I'd look at it, while it was in mid-convulsion writing itself, and I'd say to it "WTF? You can't write that. That's not how novels are meant to be written." And The Imagination Thief would turn around and give me the look (a diva's look that can shrivel cacti at thirty paces' distance) and tell me "Sit your ass back down and keep tapping away on that keyboard, because this is exactly how it's meant to be—so learn it, boy, and I don't wanna hear no more back-chat." In short, I was thoroughly bitch-slapped by it: it had the upper hand and it knew it.


So what's it all about, in a nutshell?

The Imagination Thief is about a web of secrets, triggered by the stealing and copying of people's imaginations and memories. It's about the magic that can be conjured up by images of people, in imagination or on film; the split between beauty and happiness in the world; and the allure of various kinds of power. It celebrates some of the most extreme possibilities of human imagination, personality and language, exploring the darkest and brightest flavours of beauty living in our minds.

Seven particular themes within it are:

(1) An ever-deeper exploration, tending to theft, of people's imaginations, memories and personalities.

(2) A web of secrets and lies regarding exactly who may be aware of who may be spying into whom.

(3) The use of creative imagination for the purpose of transcending the everyday world, through igniting aliveness, wonder and beauty, both in oneself and in others.

(4) The iconic aura and allure that filmed and photographic images can conjure up and spin around their subjects.

(5) The disjunction between beauty and happiness: how the many kinds of beauty in the world, within people and outside them, seem to exist independent of the levels of misery/happiness or pain/pleasure in people.

(6) The disjunctions inherent in an onscreen presence: (1) possessing an incorporeal public self, in addition to the real-life flesh-and-blood self; and (2) being sealed off in the small and unreal world of a recording-studio, in order to be minutely visible to numerous unknown viewers in the real and much wider world outside.

(7) The glamour of power—whether corporate or gang-based, physical or onscreen.



But what will the Gentle Reader get from reading it?...

I'm glad you've asked this, which is a good question; and here's the answer, as best I can give it.

In celebrating the darkest and brightest possibilities of human imagination, personality and language, The Imagination Thief reflects our varied internal lives in ways they haven't been reflected before. It unearths surprising beauty and unexpected love, from behind and within the brutality of the world. It demands focused attention, but it repays this richly. It's very serious fun. You can read it as a linear novel with a coherent plot, but you can also read it by dipping and diving throughout; and wherever you dive in, The Imagination Thief will shimmer right back at you with love and poison, toughness and light—I promise!


Why did I write it?

In writing it, my intention was to help us illuminate the world, to the best of my abilities, using language, and thereby to leave the world infinitesimally richer and more beautiful than it was before. (Well there's no harm in trying, and it beats watching television.)

More specifically, I aimed: (1) to illuminate the darkest and brightest corners of human imagination; (2) to wring as much beauty as possible from this harshly-designed life into which we all seem to have been thrown without being sufficiently consulted ahead of time; and then (3) to explore and interrogate that beauty with rigour, sensuality and humour. Although the novel pays unflinching attention to some overpoweringly dark aspects of our existence here, I believe it also manages, in places, to suggest ways in which we may transcend that darkness while still preserving emotional and aesthetic honesty, with love and sensuality and a healthy dose of mirth along the way.


What messages does it convey?

That's a bit blunt, isn't it? Oh all right, I'll have a quick stab at it.

Among many less summarisable things, I suspect The Imagination Thief may be suggesting that one way to increase our chances of raising our heads above the asphalt (our own heads and others') is for all of us to put active and serious energy into inhabiting and exercising our creative imaginations, in whatever ways we're able to, because this tends to help the good stuff happen.

Also that there are glorious beauties, sensualities and dark riches in each of us—and those are treasures that each of us should love and own and inhabit, rather than forgetting them or ignoring them or being frightened of them.

Each of us is essentially alone; and unimaginable levels of cruelty and suffering are able to target any one of us at a moment's notice, if they're inclined to. Yet love, beauty and humour all continue to insist on arising between us, around us and within us, making riches available to many of us, if we reach for them. But perhaps what's most bewitching is the glorious, multitudinous, fucked-up fascination of our whole situation here. —I mean, look at it, really: what's that all about?...

The last thing to pick out here is perhaps that there are often two parallel narratives in our lives: the external narrative of coherence, discipline and balance, that we use in everyday dealings and interactions as civilised participants in society (suggested by the more straightforward titles of the novel's ten Parts, which are numbered I-X); and the less coherent, less disciplined and less balanced narratives that run healthy riot within our imaginations (suggested by the more whimsical titles of the novel's 120 mini-chapters, which are numbered 1-120).


One big cupcake, cooked up out of film, literary-fictional text, video, photos and audio

For a quick video introduction, see Otherwise, I'd say this tale is basically one big digital cupcake, cooked up out of film, video, audio, photos and literary-fictional text (this last ingredient being much the most analogue in the whole digital recipe), all baked together into an e-book combined with a website. You can just read the text, which can stand alone; or you can consume the lot, either in linear sequence or dipping and diving at will.

Rohan  x


For some nice reviews and interviews about The Imagination Thief, in The Guardian and elsewhere, see

For a quick synopsis of it, see

For the 12 Films in The Imagination Thief, see

For the Audio-book version and the Video-book version of each of its 120 mini-chapters, see

For links to the retailers, see and

And for its Amazon pages, see and

THE IMAGINATION THIEF (mini-chapters 1-98)Read this story for FREE!