This is going to be a repository of insights about the novel, I Am Not Gog (and later works as they come). It might get a little tricky at times because I don’t want to give any spoilers, not just about the plot but also the allegory — I don’t want to give all the answers to what things really represent or there wouldn’t be any point in making an allegory in the first place. I’ll have to do some careful ‘talking around’ some things to give some clues but not hand you the answers on a plate.
It took me over twelve and a half years (on and off) to write, edit, and publish the novel. This is largely because of the complexity of the allegorical structure beneath the fairly simple surface story. Most allegories have one allegorical theme (called the ‘target’) under the surface story (called the ‘source’). In I Am Not Gog, there are several strands of allegory that had to co-exist without clashing, confusing, or contradicting each other. It drove me mad. It was a ridiculously ambitious undertaking. I couldn’t have made it harder for myself.
Another reason for those twelve years is that after laying the groundwork for the story and starting to flesh it out, several months of researching the allegorical target resulted in a complete upturning of my world-view. This reversed the meaning of the novel. I had to take a few years away from it until I could figure out a way forward.
I will talk openly about five of the six main allegorical strands, but I don’t think I’ll be able to speak directly about the main target. All I will say here is that the main target is to do with a modern-day international phenomenon – its nature and what lies behind it. As it will remain unnamed, I've given it the cute acronym 'UMDIP' for use here. The allegorical themes interrogate it by inviting the reader to question, they don't force any answers on the reader.
I have also been careful to try to balance the pitch of allegory, how obvious it is – or how unnoticeable it is. I hope I have managed to give readers the opportunity to variously enjoy the surface story oblivious of any subtext, or immerse themselves in the complex tapestry of the allegories. I guess many will come somewhere in between. [Edit: it turns out most remain oblivious of the allegory, but thoroughly enjoy the surface story. I'm happy with that.]
Many years ago, a teacher of English literature once told me not to be so obscure in my writing. My fear is that I have been too obscure and the allegories might be lost on too many. But I often hear advice saying never to ‘write down’ to your reader, and to assume they are intelligent grown-ups and are as able to pick up on the subtle signposts as much as I am able to stick the signposts in the ground.
I love a puzzle, particularly cryptic crosswords, so I wrote a book that I would have liked to solve. Over to you.