This novel was prompted by a newspaper story I read, about a young woman who was charged with fraud. She worked at the British Telecom payments processing centre at Durham, and when cheques arrived written to “BT” (rather than the full name) she changed them to “B.Taylor” and her friend Barry and herself paid them into their own account. This struck me as a simple little scam, and rather brilliant.And there was something about it that stuck in my mind. I kept asking myself the novelist’s question “What if?” What if a payment doesn’t get processed? The customer gets a final demand and in the end their phone is cut off. And if a phone gets cut off, what then? All sorts of life-changing things can happen. So I developed this into a story that starts out as a simple little fraud and that suddenly gets darker when, as a result of a phone line being disconnected, a terrible tragedy happens. This novel is really about guilt and responsibility, how there is no such thing as a victimless crime. I also scripted it as a drama for the BBC, starring Tamsin Outhwaite. She brought a terrific minx-like ammorality to the part of Natalie, our anti-heroine; but she also brought a humanity to her, so we were on her side. For Natalie truly believed she was doing nothing wrong, until she was faced with the devastating result of her greed.
Natalie is a girl who should be going somewhere. Beautiful, bright and ambitious, she’s stuck in a dead-end job in the accounts department of Nu-Line Telecommunications, living her life through wild weekends and yearning for something more.
When she sees a chance to change her life, she takes it.After all, it’s only a minor crime.Nobody’s going to get hurt. But other people do get hurt, because Natalie’s actions do have consequences – tragic consequences. Poignant and beautifully written, Final Demand is a cautionary tale about the battle between greed and love, about human hopes and our own frailty in the face of temptation.
“Thank God for Deborah Moggach. Final Demand is strong on narrative, dashing the reader along but, though fast-paced and transparently written, nevertheless creates people of memorable complexity.”
“A cracker. Take the phone off the hook, curl up on the sofa and enjoy.”
“An astonishing story of broken dreams, greed and human frailty…a tale of extraordinary power. Quite simply outstanding.”
“Hugely entertaining…immensely thought-provoking.”