The seeds of OSIRIS were sown during my final year studying at Manchester, when I wrote a novella called THE LAST BALLOON FLIGHT. I’d almost completed the first draft of a contemporary novel about musicians, but something wasn’t working, and all my instincts were telling me I wasn’t going to be able to make it work. Instead, I wrote THE LAST BALLOON FLIGHT: a futuristic fairy tale about a journey from a frozen landscape, across an archipelago British Isles, to a flooded Paris (something like the illustration below: the painting is dubious, but there are some early intimations of oceanic towers going on). The return to a fantastical style of writing immediately felt more like me, and the musician novel was promptly abandoned.
Following my degree I lived in Montmartre for eighteen months, and the earliest notes I have on OSIRIS are set in a much-altered Paris. Montmartre being Montmartre, this period was more Bohemia than bohemian writing, and I was also chronicling the tales of the most malevolent cat who ever lived, Mystik, who I had the misfortune to look after for the best part of a year. MYSTIK: LETTERS survives as a record of my time in France, but this feline was also the source of the surname Adelaide chooses to use rather than her family name of Rechnov. Adelaide and Mystik shared many similar traits.