Name –

 Well that’s a tricky question to start with! For most people their name is pretty straightforward but I’ve managed to even confuse myself! My real name is Fiona Johnson, my crime/noir name is McDroll and my Romance name is F.G. Johnson. My superhero name is Grenade Woman…but you probably won’t need to know that!

Age –

Old enough to know better.

Where are you from – I’m originally from Kilmarnock a small industrial town with no industry left in Ayrshire, Scotland but I’ve lived in Argyll since 1984 when I moved to the Isle of Islay to find work. I lived there for 9 years and since then I’ve lived in mainland Argyll.

A little about your self `i.e. your education Family life ect

My education started in huge sandstone Victorian Junior Secondary School when I was only 4 years old and it terrified me almost every day that I spent there. The kids were controlled with corporal punishment with the belt being used all day, everyday for minor misdemeanors like dropping your pencil on the wooden floor to not being able to spell February out loud. I hated it but it made me have a strong belief in fairness and equality as I grew up because I saw children being abused by the power of adults on a daily basis.

Secondary school only made those beliefs stronger and that was when I started to stand up to those adults who wanted to abuse their power. I remember refusing corporal punishment in my maths class and staring the teacher down. I won. I also remember being locked in the French class over lunch for much the same reason. Nobody was going to treat me as a victim and I haven’t changed since.

My belief in the right of children to have a voice and to be treated fairly took me, of course, into teaching. I started off at teacher training college straight from school but then detoured into an honours degree in English lit where I discovered my love for Scottish literature.

Since then I’ve studied for a Masters degree in Education just for the fun of it!

I have two children, both of whom I have taught, an interesting experience, and when not reading or writing, I spend my time supporting them in their various musical interests.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?


As I’m currently on holiday, I’m spending my time catching up with some reviews and I’ve been trying to help promote new writers over at my blog.

Mostly though, I’m trying to get some of my own writing done while I don’t have other distractions.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?


I’ve always wanted to write and have had several disasters over the years. Looking back I now understand why I wasn’t successful before as I didn’t have enough life experiences, an understanding of what makes people tick, a wealth of reading experience or the support of other amazing writers on the internet. All of these elements are now in place and I’m just having the best time writing.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?


I don’t!

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?


I got a great offer from Trestle Press to publish some of my stories and I just took it! You don’t turn that kind of chance down.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?


Reading the comments that people make about my writing then I would say that I tend towards bleak and emotional tales of everyday life, you know, happy stuff like that!

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?


I came up with Kick It because I wanted something catchy that had an edge of violence and the idea that people can make changes, even when they are in the most desperate of situations. I also thought the title leant itself to further volumes, hence KICK IT AGAIN and hopefully in the near future, KICK IT SOME MORE.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?


No message, I jut want people to enjoy what I write and maybe find some kind of elemental truth about contemporary living.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?


I hope that all of my stories are realistic but that doesn’t mean that they are ‘true’. I maybe catch sight of someone in town, or over hear a conversation and use that to start me off. I then try to take the idea to its logical conclusion based on the idea that noir starts bad and then gets worse.

Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?


Sometimes I base a story on some little incident from my childhood but I twist it out of shape and add much more angst and violence!

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?


My main love in life is Scottish fiction starting form Robert Burns all the way through to Alan Guthrie. There is a common thread that links Scottish writing together that is unique in this small country of ours. People seem to be born with a sense of guilt or if they don’t, they will soon have it drummed into them as a child. There is a certain type of humour tat is very self-deprecating and an ability to see the funny side of the most horrible situations. I love all of this and you can easily find it in the writing of Stuart MacBride, Douglas Lindsay and Russel D. McLean.

Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?


I am very lucky to have some wonderful friends who will read the bits and pieces that I write and point me in a better direction. Josh Stallings, author of Beautiful, Naked & Dead is immensely talented and I’m very fortunate to be able to call him my friend. Also Thomas Pluck, the writing machine, will rip my stories apart in the nicest way possible.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?


At the moment I’ve just finished DEAD MONEY by the amazing Ray Banks and I’m currently reading WEE ROCKETS by Gerard Brennan; two great books. I’m also dipping in and out of OFF THE RECORD, an anthology of short stories compiled by Luca Veste where each story is inspired by a classic song. Great stuff!

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?


Lots! This year I’ve become hooked on:

1. Anthony Neil Smith

2. Josh Stallings

3. Ray Banks

4. Douglas Lindsay

to name but a few…

Fiona: What are your current projects?


I’ve written two short stories, ‘Alone’ and ‘Sweeper’ both, interestingly, with male central characters. I’m trying to extend my writing and develop my characters a bit more. I’ve also got a couple of my ‘Gemma’ stories to finish writing. She’s one of my recurring characters who is a rookie DC working in Glasgow who doesn’t let her male colleagues walk all over her. I’m also working on another story about Jango and Beeny, two small-time criminals, who are incredibly stupid. They are fun to write about.

I’ve got stories in two just published anthologies, OFF THE RECORD by Luca Veste and BRIT GRIT TOO by Paul Brazill.

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.


My twitter friends are amazing and demand that I write! I’d be lost without them!

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?


I wish!! If it could pay the bills I’d drop everything and be ‘a writer’ sadly I think I’ll need to keep the day job!

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?


No, I don’t believe in looking back. I just want to make every current project the very best that I can at that point in time.

Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?


I think my interest in noir started with only ever reading Grimm’s Fairy tales when I was just a wee thing. I obviously have always had a liking for the dark side of life! Saying that..I also devoured Dr. Seuss! I’ve always loved the beauty of words so I think that’s where my inspiration came from.

Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?


Yes! This is from ‘SWEEPER’

The coloured Christmas lights cut through the early darkness of the afternoon as

shoppers scurried around the main street in the village moving in and out of the small

shops, stopping now and then to greet their friends as last minute purchases were

made for the festive season.

 

Christmas time, mistletoe and wine.’ Sweeper’s loud voice could be heard all down

the street. He’d been singing out of tune Christmas songs all month but the shoppers

knew him well and just smiled up at his cheery round face as they passed him by.

 

Gonna be a white, white Christmas,

Gonna get lucky tonight,

In this little town of Bethlehem.’

 

He didn’t always get the words right which also amused the passers by. His Christmas

repertoire was usually a mash up of carols and Christmas no.1 hits from the 70s and

80s with a liberal sprinkling of improvisation.

 

Everybody in the little village knew Sweeper; the nickname came directly from his

job as street cleaner, which he had carried out faithfully for at least 15 years. Not a

cigarette but or bus ticket was safe on the ground if Sweeper was around. His yellow

high-viz jacket and green bobble hat were a familiar sight to all the locals who

enjoyed a laugh and joke as they passed.

 

‘Hey Sweeper! Merry Christmas man and remember to keep off the booze, yer

singing’s bad enough!’ 

 

Sweeper laughed and shook his fist playfully at all the jibes he got and sang even

louder.

 

Mary’s baby was born this day,

In a winter wonderland!

 

He continued sweeping and bagging up all the detritus of the season, shoving the bin

bag in his cart and moving on up the street.

 

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?


Yes, I really have to work hard on the plot! I can’t start writing until I know what the end point is, then I can head off quite happily. Sometimes I don’t end up where I think I was going but I need to have thought up a direction to begin with. If I don’t then I just go round and round in circles.

Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?


I’ve got so many favourite authors! Lewis Grassic Gibbons, Jane Austin, William McIllvanney, Allan Guthrie, Josh Stallings, Anthony Neil Smith, Douglas Lindsay, Stuart McBride, Benjamin Whitmer…I could go on and on.

Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?


No, I write about the places I know; Argyll, Islay, Glasgow and Kilmarnock.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?


My published, Trestle Press, has allowed me to come up with the photos for my covers which is great fun!

Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?


I don’t find it hard. My day job is hard. I write for fun and because I love doing something I’m passionate about.

Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?


I’ve learned that having book published is only the beginning, finding readers is the hard part!

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?


Don’t wait until you have retired to write ‘the book’, do it now and go with whatever opportunities come your way!

Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

If you read any of my stories, give me some feedback. It’s all a big learning process and what the reader says is ultimately the most important aspect to me.

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done ?

I also enjoy singing…however other people have a different opinion.

 

Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? if so what is it?

You can find me at

http://imeanttoreadthat.blogspot.com/

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