What Has Been Seen Cannot Be Unseen…
Liverpool is in the grip of an intense heatwave, and strange things are happening.
A woman dies in an apparent case of Spontaneous Human Combustion; a truck explodes on the dock road; the charred corpses of pets litter the city; forest fires ravage the pinewoods…and there are birds everywhere, silent flocks drawing in ominously.
Detective Inspector Darren Swift thinks there are connections, and his investigation delves into the worlds of football, nightclubs and organised crime. But is he imagining things?
Dr. Helen Hope doesn’t think so. And she believes the key lies in a mysterious seventeenth-century occult book which has gone missing from Liverpool Library.
In the blistering sequel to Reprobation, DI Swift is forced to confront some inconvenient ghosts from his past, as a terrifying shadow lies over his city’s reality….
The blurb for this book made me think of the summer’s we now experience here in the UK where it is anything but cool! Also reminds me of being at work, where the heat can sometimes drive you towards wanting to commit murder.
Q1: What inspired you to write Consuming Fire?
The book is a sequel to my first novel Reprobation, and develops some of the characters I created, in particular Detective Inspector Darren Swift. But it can also be read as a standalone. It was inspired by the practice of coupe-feu, a traditional healing method in which a combination of pagan ritual and Catholic prayer is used to cure burns. This is still practised today in rural Switzerland and France, and can even be done over the phone. So I wondered, what if instead of praying to angels to cure burns, you tried praying to demons to cause fire? Over the phone?
As with Reprobation, I wanted to give a potentially supernatural twist to the crimes DI Swift has to investigate, as he continues his journey towards the occult.
Q2: Who would you want to play the main characters in your book if your novel was optioned for tv / film?
Oh I think my books would make a marvellous TV series! But doesn’t every author think that…
If the dream became reality, it would be wonderful to have Liverpudlian actors. Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) would be perfect for Helen Hope.
Q3: How many rejections did you get before you got a publishing deal?
I was very lucky; I made an initial application to a handful of agents and publishers and I got picked up very quickly by Crooked Cat. It was largely a case of right place, right time. I haven’t looked back since.
Q4: Which authors inspired you to write?
As a teenager I devoured classic crime fiction – Agatha Christie, PD James, Ruth Rendell, Conan Doyle – so I’m sure all that inspired me subconsciously to write my own crime novels.
I write high-concept with a supernatural twist, so I’m inspired by high-concept writers like Stephen King and Alex Garland. And my favourite author is Kazuo Ishiguro, for the beauty and restraint of his writing.
Q5: What are your writing routines?
I don’t really have a routine; it’s not possible because I have four small children plus my journalism work, so I have to be very flexible. I write whenever and wherever I can, long-hand in notebooks. I always transcribe and save everything I have written onto my laptop at the end of the day. My philosophy is ‘get it down’. I don’t worry too much about writing the perfect sentence or paragraph; I’d rather churn out 2000 words of stream-of-consciousness because I know I can edit later. The diamonds are often hidden in the rough!
Q6: If you could go back to when you first started writing what one piece advice would you give yourself
Don’t be afraid to commit. By that I mean emotionally and spiritually, rather than in practical terms. Because very few people have the luxury of giving up their job to write full-time. But I was embarrassed to admit I was writing; for some reason I found it humiliating to say, even to my husband, ‘I’m writing a novel’. I thought my family and friends would judge me for wasting time, for entertaining frivolous dreams. So I wrote in stealth, waiting until everyone was asleep, until I was alone. If I’d only had the confidence to tell people what I was doing I would have got on much faster, and I could have sought help more easily. If you’re writing, you’re a writer, whether you’re published or not – be proud!
Q7: What would you say to someone who wants to write?
Join a critiquing group, take classes, read as widely as possible, write as much as possible – flash fiction, short stories, blog posts, freelance articles. You have to learn your craft, but you can teach yourself. There are a lot of resources out there.
Q8: If you weren’t writing what would you be doing?
My last job was a breastfeeding counsellor, so I might still be doing that. But I also write part-time as a music journalist, so if I didn’t have my novels I would probably still be writing anyway.
Q10: Tell me something about yourself your readers might not know?
My first job was resident pianist at Harry Ramsden’s Fish and Chip Restaurant on the Liverpool docks. I was a very shy 16-year old piano student, and I just wanted to sit quietly playing classical music and Beatles songs. But I would get loads of drunk customers heckling me and requesting Come On Eileen or Nirvana. I found it so stressful! That was the beginning of the end of my career as a pianist.
Thank you Catherine x
Catherine Fearns is from Liverpool, UK. In previous incarnations she was a financial analyst, a cocktail pianist and a breastfeeding counsellor, but nowadays she likes to write. Her first novel, Reprobation, was published by Crooked Cat Books in October 2018 and quickly became an Amazon bestseller in several categories. The follow-up, Consuming Fire, is currently on pre-order and will be available in early 2019.
Catherine writes for music website Pure Grain Audio, and her music journalism has also appeared in Broken Amp and Noisey. Her short fiction and non-fiction pieces have been published in Here Comes Everyone, Toasted Cheese, Offshoots & Metal Music Studies. She holds a degree in History from Oxford University, a Masters from the London School of Economics, and is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association.
When Catherine is not writing, she plays guitar in a heavy metal band, mainly to annoy her four children.
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