A missing shipment of cocaine.
Three street-kids fighting for their lives.
A mafia hit-man intent on killing them.
A naive expat who gets in their way.
Who would you bet on?
Today I join FJ (Fiona) Curlew on tour with her latest novel, Don’t Get Involved. Described as ‘a high end thriller – thought-provoking, dealing with politics, corruption and homelessness, with a sprinkling of magic realism’, it was just published on 7th October 2019.
Fiona has written a guest post for us all today about the inspiration behind writing this book so I do hope you enjoy.
“Street-kids were often seen hanging around the many buskers, flitting through the underpasses, skulking in the shadows. They were simply a fact of life, ignored by many, helped by a few.”
[ About the Book ]
Ukraine, 2001. A time of lawlessness and corruption. Three street-kids stumble upon a holdall full of cocaine, belonging to the Mafia. Mafia hitman, Leonid, is given the job of retrieving the cocaine and disposing of the street-kids. To do so he is forced to step back into his old life and he doesn’t like it. The children run on their wits. Leonid hunts them down. Nadia, a young woman with her own dark past, arrives in Ukraine looking for a fresh start. She wasn’t expecting this!
“She had no idea of what, or who, she was supposed to be running from. Right now everything was a threat. Definitely militsiya, but who else? Everyone. Right now it felt like everyone.”
The Story Behind ‘Don’t Get Involved’
Ukraine – A country that had such an impact on me.
I have had the great fortune of being an international school teacher, which has allowed me to experience life in different countries. Fourteen years were spent in Eastern Europe. Four of them in Kyiv, Ukraine. Many of the events written about in “Don’t Get Involved” are based upon stories I was told by other expats, locals, and things that I witnessed or experienced myself. Life was hard for many, but being a teacher, it was the children that got to me the most. Street-kids were often seen hanging around the many buskers, flitting through the underpasses, skulking in the shadows. They were simply a fact of life, ignored by many, helped by a few.
I found it hard to ignore, walk past, and ended up getting to know a few of them, giving them food, warm clothes, a bit of money, a bit of time. There was one couple that really touched me. They were a brother and sister who would chat and smile when I bumped into them. But they were so different from the rest. There was a grace to them. There was also an acceptance of their fate which I found very unsettling. Apart from living on the streets with the danger and hardships that dealt them, a black Mercedes would also pick one of them up on a regular basis, and the other would wait quietly in the same spot until their return. It was patently obvious that this wasn’t anything good, but it was simply accepted. This was what they did. It broke my heart.
When I came back to Scotland I wrote a few short stories based on my time in Ukraine, from the stray dogs I gathered – and yes, they travelled on with me! – to the vulnerability of people living in a corrupt society, and I realised that a novel was scratching away at me. The children just wouldn’t leave me and I decided to work on a scenario that I could place them in. The Mafia were also ever present, as was the corruption of the militsiya and the government, all of which I experienced firsthand. Of course there was the beautiful side to Ukraine as well. The genuineness of the ordinary people despite the dark history of their country, from the Holodomor and Soviet days, to Chernobyl and a succession of corrupt, dirty governments.
The story became a thriller, where the children take on the Mafia and a hunt ensues. Lives change. The street-kids are based on those that I knew, all other characters are fictitious. Oh, and I have sprinkled them with a little bit of magic because I felt they deserve it!
[ Bio ]
Fiona spent fifteen years working as an international school teacher, predominantly in Eastern Europe. Much of her inspiration comes from her travels. Her writing has been described as, “Human experience impacted upon by political situation, interwoven with a love of nature.”
She now lives on the East Coast of Scotland with Brockie the Springer, and Fingal the rescued Portuguese street-cat. Her days are divided between dog-walking in beautiful places and working on her stories. Not a bad life!
Don’t Get Involved is her third book.
Twitter – @FJCurlew