Q&A with Claire McFall #MakingTurquoise

Scottish Young Adult writer Claire McFall, winner of the 2013 Scottish Children’s Book Award and the 2015 Scottish Teenage Book Prize, is to release a new book – MAKING TURQUOISE – to help raise funds for food banks during the coronavirus crisis. McFall is giving 100% of proceeds from sales of the book* to food banks supported by the Trussell Trust.

*All proceeds from 10th April to 31st July 2020, including pre-orders

Hayley and Liam live in the same small town, but they come from different worlds. She’s a Protestant and he’s a Catholic; she’s a blue-nose and he’s a Hun. Where they’re from, that’s a problem. All they want is to be together, if only everyone else would let them. Making Turquoise is a retelling of the classic Romeo and Juliet, set in post-industrial Scotland.

“Gritty, absorbing, and highly recommended!”
Sophie Plowden, author of the Jack Dash series.

Q&A with Claire McFall

Why did you want to write MAKING TURQUOISE?
The novel was inspired by a tragedy. A friend of mine’s boyfriend was murdered after a fight at a house party. It was New Year’s Eve. Making Turquoise is set in the area that I’m from. Everyone knows that Glasgow has issues with sectarian hatred that frequently boils over into violence, but the rural areas around it does, too. In areas like Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire, there’s quite a lot of deprivation. There used to be textile manufacturing and mines, but those went away. Now, there are people struggling, and that can often lead to resentment and anger. Sectarian division can become the outlet for that.

So. I wanted to show people what it can be like, how unfair it is. And I wanted to write a love story there because it’s not all doom and gloom! Life might be hard, but it can still be beautiful.

Is this a new story (for this occasion) or was it already written?
I’ve been working on this story for eight years. Seriously. It started off with two perspectives, rather than four, and they didn’t intersect in the same ways. Now, I think it’s as perfect as I can make it. I was ready to give it to the world, and this seemed like a good way to do it.

What inspires your writing?
Places and dreams, I think. Places always have a feel to them. I went to Whitby and wrote an (as yet unpublished) ghost novel because of the impression I got from the abbey, and Black Cairn Point (The Last Witness in the US) is based on a camping trip I took with my husband before I agreed to marry him. But I also have crazy dreams, and loads of times I’ve been found, at 4am, down in the living room scribbling down a new idea. Sometimes it all makes sense in the morning… and sometimes not!

Best and worst thing about being a writer?
I spend my days living in new worlds and becoming new people. I get to live a thousand (okay, maybe just a hundred) lives that way. Who’d wouldn’t trade a nine to five in an office for that?

The worst thing is definitely the uncertainty. I’ve rarely heard of a writer being given more than a three-book deal at once, and at approximately a book a year that means at most you’re set for three years. Then you’re back at the beginning, hoping your publisher – or maybe a new one – wants to keep investing in you.

Apart from writing what do you love doing?
I like to run because it’s good for stress, though I don’t often like it at the time because it’s hard work! I read a lot. I like sc-ifi and fantasy romance. And eating. I do a whole lot of eating…

And what’s the perfect cure for a bad day?
Wine and a book. Or cake and a book. Or chocolate and a book.

I’d go as far as to say wine and cake and chocolate and a book, but then I might puke on said book.

Can you tell us something about yourself that not many people know:
I only type with my left hand. My right hand is reduced to pressing the Shift key on command. When I was a teacher the kids used to think it was hilarious to watch me in full flow, because I’m still really fast, my fingers just whizz around the keyboard like some kind of deranged spider.

On the back on that I’m giving you a free platform to talk about anything – GO:
So it might seem strange that I said I’ve worked on Making Turquoise for eight (!!!) years and now I’m self-publishing it. Because have no doubt, Making Turquoise is absolutely my book baby – I love it more than anything I’ve ever written. And I love two of the characters in the book (You can’t make me decide between Callum and Liam! You can’t, and I won’t! Oh, all right then, Liam. Just), but I’m doing it for a good cause.

Food banks are really struggling during coronavirus because so many people have lost income. I wanted to do more to help than just dropping a jar of pasta sauce into the donation box in the supermarket. So. All proceeds from the sale of the book until the end of July will be donated to food banks supported by The Trussell Trust. Not just the profits, all of it. I’m absorbing the editing and cover design costs and my agent is waiving his percentage. Anything I receive for sales is going to help feed people in this crappy, crappy time.

So if you buy a book, you’re not really buying a book, you’re making a donation to help people and getting a free read. Bargain! The book is only £1.99 or $2.99 because I wanted to make it accessible and not stretch people at a time when we’re definitely all being stretched.

So what happens now?
Well, the book is out there and ready to be read! It’s available on Kindle (Amazon US and UK… and most of the other ones!) so you can go get it right now. And someone, somewhere down the line, will be able to feed their family because of you.

Finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
What’s your favourite (and least favourite) word? Because my favourite word is discombobulated and I think that word definitely deserves more airtime. My least favourite word is mealy-mouthed which my husband says all the time (!!!) and makes me think of meal worms in your mouth. Gross!

Quickfire Round

Tea or coffee?
Neither!

When no one is watching do you dance?
Of course. I will also do it when people are watching too!

You can have one superpower, what would you like?
The power to manipulate electricity and electrical things. I’d be a super hacker! No vending machine would ever thwart me again!

Favourite dish, that you can actually cook?
Curry. Or prawn and chorizo risotto.

What word describes you best?
Mental.

The book you’ve read the most?
The Lord of the Fading Lands (Tairen Soul series)

Current viewing obsession?
The Great Pottery Throwdown. And it’s over for another year, no!!!!

 

Claire McFall grew up in South Lanarkshire. She was an English teacher there and in the Scottish Borders before becoming a full-time writer. She moved to Colorado in late 2019.

@mcfall_claire


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