As I've mentioned in various interviews, the road to god knows... touches on my own situation growing up. It's not autobiographical except in the loosest sense, but some of my own experiences definitely mirror Marie's. I also wanted to do a story that was a bit different than what I was seeing published in comics and graphic novels. Mental health and mental illness is still a taboo subject so trying to shed some light on it, in hopefully a positive and healthy way, was and still is very important to me.
This is going to seem strange, but I also wanted to do a story that girls could read. I fell in love with comics very young, but it was very obvious to see that comics were primarily aimed at boys and men. Not girls and women. Not by a longshot. Which is remarkable when one thinks how many girls read comics back in the 1940s and 1950s. Romance comics alone were a key demographic at the time but girls weren't pigeon-holed, at least to my mind, about reading just that genre. But as superheroes became the dominant genre by the early to mid 1960s, boys dominated the market. Ironically, Western comics never really solved this issue and there was a decades-long stereotype that girls simply didn't or wouldn't read comics (crazy!). This has been slowly changing but ironically the driving force is coming from the Far East in the form of manga (in particular Shojo (or Shoujo) manga and Josei manga). Despite this change, I wanted to do a story in my own style that anyone, male or female, could read. I've been surrounded by strong women most of my life and I think I would have been kicked (hard!) in the shins if I did anythin else, too!
Is it all about "chicklit" or "girl power," then? No, of course not. That's not the point. What I tried to do was create a compelling story that happens to feature girls and women as main characters. For the story to work (for any story to work), the characters have to be real. Hopefully, if I've done my job right, they are (though, of course, you could always let me know what you think, too). The story deals with themes of empowerment, body image, self-confidence (especially in the face of events and situations that can tear one down) and self-esteem. Marie's story isn't easy - it's not meant to be. But the courage she draws from her experiences make her stronger and she grows from it. Maybe kicking and screaming, but she grows all the same.
It Has Got "God" in the Title - Isn't it a Religious Story Then?
Nope. The title is actually a play on The Pogues song Sally MacLennane, written by Shane MacGowan. I love The Pogues (and Celtic punk in general) and this song is one of my favourites. The actual lyric that I was thinking of when I came up with the title is the following:
"Now Jimmy didn't like his place in this world of ours
Where the elephant man broke strong men's necks
When he'd had too many powers
So sad to see the grieving of the people that he's leaving
And he took the road for god knows in the morning.
Great, great song by a great, great band. And it was fun to give them a tip of the hat with a riff on the song lyric.