A Rugby man has fulfilled a lifetime ambition with the release of a novel, retelling one of the most famous stories of all time in a fresh new setting.
Christopher Gallagher, 58, has published Arrival, in which he has imagined how the Christmas story might have been had it taken place in the modern world.
Originally from Leeds in Yorkshire, Gallagher had wanted to be an author since the age of 15, but after moving to Rugby in 1980 the opportunity to take his writing more seriously never arose – until now.
He said: “Apart from the odd poetry and song lyrics, the idea of actually writing something as challenging as a book never occurred to me till I was in my fifties.”
His first book, Coming Home, was published in 2011, and Arrival is his second.
Gallagher, who lives in Bilton with his wife and two children, said: “Everyone knows the Christmas story, and many people know the stories of the gospels that tell us about the life of Jesus.
“But something my wife said to me one day got me thinking: What would life be like if Jesus hadn’t been born in Bethlehem around 2000 years ago?
“Then I discovered that a recent study suggested that forty per cent of people did not realise that Jesus was a real person who actually lived.
“I realised that if Jesus hadn’t been born there would be no churches, and none of the historic or cultural connections that our country shares with Christianity.
“Our parliament and judicial system would be very different, and our society would be unrecognisable.
“So I decided to explore what that world might be like.”
Gallagher’s novel describes a world where humanity hangs despairingly between the forces of good and evil, teetering on the edge of self destruction and without hope – just as Roman-occupied Israel was when Jesus was born.
It describes a British Isles still consisting of the four kingdoms of Northumbria, Mercia, Wessex and East Anglia, but under the control of a cruel European empire based in Saxony.
Into that world is born a man, immense in power and chosen by God. This man, often misunderstood, would change the course of the world irreversibly in just three years.
Gallagher said: “Arrival will feel strangely familiar for some readers, describing a world that has echoes of our own along with stories of Jesus’ life.
“But at the same time the book describes a world that is by no means comfortable, and brings new life to the characters we thought we knew.”
Arrival is out now and available on Kindle and paperback from Amazon. It is published by Mesen Publishing.