A while back I found myself wondering what happened to your Facebook page after you died. One of my Facebook friends had tragically passed away, but there she still was, staring back at me from her profile page. Would it just sit there gathering digital dust, I wondered? Would I still get the automatic reminders to wish her a happy birthday each year? How would anyone at Facebook know this user was no longer with us? This, I found out, is where a "digital executor" steps in. They're like the executor of a will, but their work is specific to your online presence. In the event of your death, they take care of your email accounts, photo albums on Flickr, Twitter feed, Facebook profile, or whatever social media strands you use. But what if they took control of your digital persona instead? What if, in effect, they became you? This is the conceit that lies at the heart of Lottie Moggach's (daughter of the best-selling novelist Deborah Moggach) debut novel Kiss Me First.
Twenty-three year-old Leila is a loner. She lives in a grimy little flat above an Indian restaurant in Rotherhithe, south-east London. She moved here from Kentish Town in north London after her mother died of MS. The cost of the illness - equipment, nurses' fees, her mother's inability to work - has eaten up most of their already meagre finances so all that's left is enough money for them to prepare for the inevitable by buying Leila a flat in a less than salubrious part of town.
With her mother gone, Leila is now completely alone, but she's not necessarily lonely. Friends have never been a huge part of her life. She has 75 on Facebook - her old childhood friend Rashida whom she's since lost touch with; Lucy, a fellow employee from Leila's short-lived employment at a coffee shop; and 73 girls she went to school with who aren't "proper friends" anyway, just people trawling for numbers. It's her other online activities that make her who she is. She works from home, testing computer software for a company that earns her a basic wage, but she fits this around playing World of Warcraft for eight hours a day, which is something of a "full-time job".
It's one of her fellow players who first suggests she check out Red Pill, a "very cool" philosophy chat room run by a man named Adrian Dervish, an American self-styled philosophy guru who inspires an almost cult-like following in the site's users. Leila joins up, and after her first tentative involvement in the discussion threads, quickly graduates from being a "Newly Enlightened" to a regular member, then onwards to the upper echelons of "Elite Thinker" - a title reserved for the few Adrian deems capable of "more advanced thought".