F. J. Curlew – Q&A

Today I’m pleased to welcome F.J.Curlow to the blog. Her novel, To Retribution was published on 10 September 2015.

She kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about To Retribution.

Thank you so much for inviting me on to your fabulous blog!

To Retribution is a thriller set in a potentially not too distant Britain. There has been a surge to the far right across Europe resulting in financial insecurity and political unrest. In Britain this has led to riots culminating in a military coup. The military is now in control. Tight control. Media is censored, movement restricted. There are re-education camps for trouble makers, repatriation camps for non-nationals. Jake, Brian and Suze, three idealistic young journalists, are used to hiding as they try to keep their online news channel open. They publish the truth about the repatriations, the corruption and the deceit. 

New Dawn, the feared security force, is closing in yet again. The trio run, yet again. This time, however, they are pursued with a relentlessness, a brutality which seems far too extreme for their ‘crimes.’ 

A trail of death is left in their wake as they try to escape New Dawn and find out what is really behind this hunt. They are drawn into a web of human trafficking, child abuse and murder. Only it’s closer than they think. Much closer. 

2.  What inspired the story?

It had its roots in a short story I wrote based around a character I had met many moons ago when hitch-hiking as a teenager. I was given a lift by a fascinating man who had turned his back on a life of privilege, packed some belongings into a Land Rover, some goats into a trailer and headed off to the wilds of the Scottish Highlands. I played about with him and placed him in an intimidating, slightly futuristic setting.  The resultant story (Catharticism) was well received and I decided to expand the idea into a novel. New characters appeared alongside a story which was inspired by current events, dodgy politicians, abuse of people and power, corruption et al! Whilst the setting is political the story is more about the strength of the individual, what we can achieve when we think all is lost, standing up for our rights and those of others, being true to ourselves.

3. You self-published To Retribution. What do you wish you had known about the self-publishing process before you published To Retribution?

Oh, goodness me…so much! If I could do it all over again I would research the ins and outs, publicity, blogging, but probably most importantly take my time. I was in a hurry due to serious health issues. There was a time when I didn’t know if I would be here long enough to see the book’s completion and I was desperate to leave something for my family. Of course, it was going to be picked up, made into a blockbuster and all would be well with the world. 

I didn’t know anything other than Amazon so I did it all through them. Neilsons, Ingram Spark, how to get my own ISBNs were all sitting in the dark recesses of the Internet completely unbeknown to me. 

I made some horrible mistakes in the formatting of the first edition, the cover was nasty, the page size wrong. It’s all good now, as am I 🙂 When my second novel is ready it’ll be a very different process. I’ll do pre-release orders, book blog tours, cover reveals etc. 

4. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel? 

Planning just doesn’t work for me at all. I find it stifles my creativity. For me it is so much more fun to be on a journey with my characters, to be surprised by them and their actions. The story and the characters definitely lead me as opposed to me them. I can remember when I was a primary school teacher regularly arguing against the boxes of ‘beginning’, ‘middle’ and ‘end’ which the powers that be demanded the students use. Why? I appreciate it works for some but not others. I wouldn’t force it. It was an option but not a necessity in my class. Creativity? Little boxes? Really! Sorry. I’m going off on a rant here…

To Retribution took eighteen months and it looks like my second novel may well take longer.

5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all? 

I am fortunate enough to live in a very beautiful part of Scotland. Sitting on my doorstep are miles of coastal walks where I spend at least two hours a day with my dogs. Sadly they are both getting old and stiff and aren’t as keen as me any more! I’m the one who wants to do the walking. They prefer to potter around the beach sniffing, munching dead crabs and other such delicacies.

It is also where I do my best thinking. If a storyline isn’t working the answer usually pops up during my coastal musings, the spray of a wave, the screech of a flock of birds, the blue of the sea fading into the blue of the sky…okay, I live in Scotland so, granted, these times may be rare but when they do happen they are simply stunning! Even gray into gray can be breathtaking. I find the sea to be very uplifting for both soul and mind. I was chatting to a fellow dog walker about the sound of the waves crashing and clawing at the pebbles. ‘Aye,’ she said, ‘it’s like it cleans your mind, eh? Washes you.’ Indeed it is!

Other than that, I love football and going to concerts – the rockier the better. Yes, I’m that granny jumping around with the young things! And, of course, I read. I can pass it off as research 🙂 How cool is that?

6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

That is so very hard as my ‘favourite’ changes on a regular basis however, the one which has stood the test of time would be Ken Kessey’s, ‘Sometimes a Great Notion.’ It was responsible for the awakening of my love of literature and therefore holds a very special place.

7. I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. What question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?  

Probably ‘What do you enjoy most about being a writer?’

Writing literally saved my life. Cancer had snatched at me. I had been left unable to do much at all due to the side effects of the treatment I had been given. It cured my cancer but left me a total wreck. I felt useless, redundant. I didn’t want to leave myself dwelling on what had happened to me. International school teacher traveling the world, learning so much, loving life. Bang! Stuck. No apparent way out. I really didn’t want that to be me. 

I am a strong believer in mind over matter, positivity over negativity. I had to do something. Writing was it. I studied at the Open University for two years and found a new way of life which I was good at. I became immersed in it, and still am. Every minute is filled with stories, characters, scenarios, refining snippets of dialogue. There is very little space for anything negative to sneak in and if it does I dismiss it, throw it away, submerge myself in my stories, my imaginings. It’s brilliant and I love it!

About the author:

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Fiona dropped out of school aged 15, because being the consummate rebel, she hated it! After becoming a single parent she decided to return to education, graduating in 1996 with an honours degree in primary education. Ah, the irony! As soon as she graduated she packed everything she owned into her Renault 11, including her daughter, two dogs and a cat, and headed off to Estonia to become an international school teacher. After fifteen years of teaching, predominantly in Eastern Europe, she returned to the UK to focus on her writing. She now lives on the east coast of Scotland with a rescued Ukrainian street mutt, a Scottish black lab and a Portuguese cat who doesn’t like the weather!

http://www.fjcurlew.com

https://www.facebook.com/FJCurlew

@fjcurlew

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/619821

http://amzn.to/1YlMDqy

About the book:

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“The military is in control. Tight control. Media is censored, movement restricted. There are re-education camps for trouble makers, repatriation camps for non-nationals. Jake, Brian and Suze, three idealistic young journalists, are used to hiding as they try to keep their online news channel open. They publish the truth about the repatriations, the corruption and the deceit.

New Dawn, the feared security force, is closing in yet again. The trio run, yet again. This time, however, they are pursued with a relentlessness, a brutality which seems far too extreme for their ‘crimes.’

A trail of death is left in their wake as they try to escape New Dawn and find out what is really behind this hunt. They are drawn into a web of human trafficking, child abuse and murder. Only it’s closer than they think. Much closer.

Who would you trust when there’s no going back?”

 

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