The Queensberry Rules and Justice

My friend Dave and I have finished our e-novel The Queensberry Rules, which you can purchase from those good people/automatons at here. Something that started as an idea for a literary novel (I came up with the idea five years ago on a train from London to Sheffield and still have those handwritten notes), morphed into a political/social thriller that raises questions about justice and vengeance.  There is little chance it’s ever going to be picked up by a real live publisher, but that’s ok, as the aim was to write a screenplay instead of a novel. Dave and I spent a couple of days in Sydney mapping out plot lines, plot points, scene and act shifts, before concluding that we could back-engineer and start with the novel/novella and work from there. A friend of mine with screenplay experience is hovering in the wings.

Well that’s the technical aspect of it. But as Christian writers there were other issues that we sought to address, issues about what it means to write from a Christian worldview, whether or not there are issues Christians shouldn’t write about, and how to avoid sermonising.  I think we made a good fist at it, and as a “non-Christian” book it has an apologetic to it that doesn’t morph into preaching.

The key question for me was the worldview one. I have always been struck by the quote at the start of Anna Karenina from Romans 12:19 (“Vengeance is mine,” saith the Lord, “I will repay”) – perhaps the greatest fictional work ever written on the inexorable pull of justice, and the inability to escape it in this life (and the next?).  Another favourite justice story of mine is the self-contained story called “Family” in Tim Winton’s The Turning. 

 Is justice possible? Is it blind? What is the difference between justice and vengeance?  How do you know when you have crossed the line between them? And why do so many justice stories involve immediate family members?  What has struck me in this era of lazy tolerance is the growing need of stories about justice, as if Western culture, so defanged of the idea of retributive justice in the public square, has to find an outlet somewhere.  That is not to say there is easy resolution.  Whilst the popcorn TV shows and movies are neatly packed into 44 minutes or 112 minutes of neat and tidy justice, the more complex American shows (The Wire, Deadwood, Homeland, Breaking Bad etc) leave us asking “Exactly who is the baddie here?”

With that in mind we wrote The Queensberry Rule, not because we wanted to write a Christian piece of fiction, but because we wanted to write a piece of fiction Christianly. We’d love a few reviews of it, if you can part with $5.99 to buy it and read it (reviews are free!- Ed)


  1. Hi Stephen, I’m up to chapter two and Jason has just woken up, so no giving away the ending or anything like that. So far I’m enjoying it. I’ve only read one other novel this year and that was in February, so be impressed that your one out of a very exclusive group. We’ve going away next week so I’ll try and make a big push to finish it then.

    I’ll have to do a critical review on my blog once I’ve finished reading it.

  2. I recently saw Margin Call (for second time) with some friends – we’ve started a blokes’ film night similar in format to a book club. It is a fantastic film, and very messy as far as who is the hero, and whether they did the right or wrong thing. Recommended.

  3. Reading Dave’s comment about Margin Call reminded me of a couple of other good films with a justice theme (among others) – Crash, and Gran Torino.
    Looking forward to reading The Q R, might even push for it at book club if enough people can get hold of a kindle. We are doing Anna Karenina next! (I’m wondering whether to read it again, or just use that 2-month window to have a crack at a Tolstoy I haven’t read before…)

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