The first and to date only novel by actor Sean Bean, Santa Barbara is a contemporary retelling of the life of St Barbara, The Great Martyr, revered in the Eastern Orthodox church. Bean conceives of St Barbara as growing up in the modern city of Santa Barbara on the Californian coast and starting a band called ‘Jesus Loves Me’. The band’s name is ironic as St Barbara, who in Beans’s novel goes under the name of Greta Fanta, does not believe in God or Jesus. The band’s first record ‘Holy Shit’, achieves phenomenal success on both sides of the Atlantic and Greta lives a lurid life until she meets the love her life, Sean Bean, who Bean based on himself. She and Sean decamp to Scotland where they run a school for wayward children.
‘I wanted to do a religious thing without any God in it’, said Bean at the time. ‘It’s all kind of post-modern, in a way. It’s kind of a dream for me.’
The novel achieved poor sales and copies are hard to find. Reviewing the novel for the London and Manchester Guardian, James Woods described it as ‘a curiosity’.