Today on Crimepieces, I have Fiona Curnow. 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. 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. To Retribution is her first novel.
Hi Fiona – Do you have particular pieces of music you write to?
I have a play-list called ‘study’ which is a huge selection of classical music. Within that there are a few favourites including Chopin’s Opus 28 Prelude No 15 in D flat major, raindrop, for when I want something moody and serious. Bruch’s violin concerto No.1 in G minor is also great for gentle stimulation.
Has a particular piece of music ever inspired you to write something?
Yes. The novel I am working on now had its absolute beginnings in, ‘The Town I Loved So Well’ by The Dubliners. The words put such a strong image in my mind. The contrast between pre and post ‘troubles’ in Ireland, the return to a land destroyed, led me to the idea of a story based on a similar concept but in a fictitious country. Very different themes, politics, but a similar feeling.
I also used Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name’ as the song which kept my female lead, Suze, in ‘To Retribution,’ focussed on what she had to do and why she was doing it.
Could you recommend any particular pieces of music for a specific mood ?
If I want to invoke something sad, super emotional, it would be Tomaso Albinoni’s Adagio in D minor. The way the violin gets higher and higher until you think it can’t go any further…but it does. It’s like the music is breaking your heart. Fabulous, tears to the eyes stuff!
Are there any longer pieces you can recommend. If you need to write for an hour, for example, is there a particular composer/artist you’d chose.
It depends very much on what I’m writing and where I am in that process. I err on the side of classical if I need to concentrate, develop new ideas, Bach’s suite no. 3 or Beethoven’s 7th for floating along with. But if I know where I’m going and what the mood is something to fit the feeling. For example, Brand New’s ‘Daisy’, Pearl Jam’s ‘Ten’, or Blind Melon’s ‘Nico’ are regular go to’s during times of angst.
What are you working on at the moment?
It’s a novel based around a young woman who returns to the country (fictitious) her grandfather fled from as a child. It’s war torn and forgotten by the media (take your pick on current events!). She is on the run from a past she can’t quite make sense of and she has created a new identity for herself in an attempt to hide from an unknown enemy. But her new life is also in jeopardy. Perhaps more so than her old one.
Thanks, Fiona for taking part in the series. Good luck with your writing.