Posts Tagged ‘Felixstowe Scribblers’

Welcome, Jeanette Hewitt…

 Jeanette Heiwtt~1

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (including pen name if you have one)

My debut crime fiction novel is being released under the name J.M Hewitt. I’ve had two novels published previously in my own name, both contemporary fiction, and this is my first venture into the world of crime.

What was the first story you wrote?

I would have to think back very far to answer that one, I recall writing a short story about a woman soldier when I was about eleven years old. I always remembered it and I’ve revamped it recently and entered it into the Flashbang Flash Fiction competition for Crimefest 2016.

Were you inspired by someone or something?

I remember quite clearly declaring at ten years old that I was going to write a book and for me, it seemed a natural progressive move from reading. I’ve had many inspirations over the years, Ffyona Campbell (the first woman to walk around the world) and her books detailing her travels always stuck with me. She’s a strong woman, and after she completed her trans-world walk she went off the grid for many, many years. I always felt so desolate that this woman would never know that she was my inspiration, and my second novel, Worlds Apart, was written with Ffyona in mind as the main character. Imagine my delight when a few years ago she reappeared in Devon, having spent years living with the Aborigines and was now back in the UK, ready to teach all her findings. She runs wild food walks now, and we have interacted many times since she came back. One of these days I’m going to accompany her on a walk. And to walk side by side with your own hero, that’s rather a mind blowing thought!

Alex Marwood was the one who led me into the world of Crime Fiction, with the debut novel The Wicked Girls. I have met her several times and count her as a valued friend. Ruth Dugdall, fellow Suffolk author, is also so supportive. And these lovely people, they branch off into other friendships and introductions, often I can’t believe that the genre we write in houses such wonderful folk.

What do you like about writing a story?

Firstly I love to teach with my work. It’s my own personal opinion but I always think if you can read a book and learn a little something then you take away so much more than you ever expected. This train of thought probably comes from how I was taught. One of my earliest memories is of my parents teaching me from their own history books, this was before I even went to school! So that method is probably engrained within me.

Can you tell us about your newest book?

On 26th April 1986, reactor four exploded at the factory in Pripyat, Chernobyl. At the same time teenager Afia Bello vanished from her home without a trace.

The damage from the nuclear fallout is examined over the following weeks, months and years by Afia’s younger sister Sissy, as she unwittingly uncovers clues relating to her sister’s disappearance, and the secret life that Afia kept hidden from her family.

In the summer of 2015 Private Detective Alex Harvey is hired to investigate the disappearances that have been occurring within the exclusion zone. He can think of only one person to bring along with him to help; Ukrainian national Elian Gould.

Elian – who was adopted at birth – has her own reasons for accepting the job; namely to search for her own family history which has always been a mystery to her.

But the remaining citizens of Chernobyl are hiding their own secrets and with a darker force at work, the missing person’s case suddenly turns into something much more serious.

How did you come up with the story?

I was only eight years old when the nuclear disaster happened, but it has always intrigued me greatly – a place on earth where nobody can go? It led me to thinking, what about if people didn’t leave; what if a bunch of them stayed and something terrifying was happening but because it’s a no-go area no law enforcements would help them… I must say I’ve absolutely loved the research that I needed to do in order to do this book justice. It’s so interesting, the parallels between man-made disaster, science, the reclamation of nature and government cover ups. I’m still researching now as I’m going to be doing several talks about it this summer and every time I delve into it I discover something new.

What genre best fits for the book?

It falls in the genre of crime fiction, with a little bit of history thrown in.

jeanette hewitt~Exclusion Zone cover

Are you working on something new at the moment?

Yes, I always kind of knew that the Chernobyl book would be the first in a series. I’m currently a third of the way through the sequel and this time, its set in Schevenigen, Holland. Many of the characters from Exclusion Zone will make an appearance in book two.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Never, ever give up. My line of thought is this: you can never get worse, your writing will only improve with time and experience and there is no age limit in this choice of career, unlike if you wanted to be, say, a model. I took part in a workshop last year and some people were saying that if this opportunity didn’t lead to anything they were going to give up! I was horrified, sure, the rejection can be tough, but rejection is everywhere in life. Take it, learn from it and keep going!

Also, interact with writers. There are many events which cost next to nothing or are even free; talks, book signings etc.

Do you write in a writing group?

Yes, I belong to a lovely group called the Felixstowe Scribblers. They are a mighty fine, supportive bunch of people. We meet twice a month and we have homework to do, usually 1000 word pieces but sometimes flash fiction. I’m so thankful for this homework, creating short stories takes me out of my comfort zone, which is a good thing!

Do you have people who will critique your work? (And if you do, do you acknowledge them in the front of the book?)

My mum is usually my first reader and she’s honest too, which is what you need. I’ve got a couple of critique offers for the next book I’m planning, but the making of Exclusion Zone moved so fast there was no time. However, I’ve had an unbelievable amount of support from fellow authors and bookish friends. They will certainly be acknowledged; in fact I think my acknowledgement section on Exclusion Zone is at least a page long. It’s like a weepy Oscar winning speech!

What is your writing routine?

I write by hand during the week and then type it all up on a Saturday. If I’ve finished typing it up I’ll continue on with the story through to Sunday. Any spare moment is spent writing, that includes train and plane journeys, holidays and evenings.

Do you have an editing process?

With writing longhand and then typing it up its almost editing right there, as I can see what’s not working the second time I go through it. I try to write blocks of words at a time, maybe going back chapter by chapter to pick up any errors that slipped through the net.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

The creation – of people’s lives (and deaths!) is a good feeling of power! Of course, the characters go off on their own paths and sometimes I have to follow them and see where they lead me; I’m not totally in control. I really don’t think there are any points I least like, I truly love every part of the process, especially research.

How important is it for you to share your writing?

To be a published author has been my dream for around thirty years, so when people tell me they’ve read it and they liked it that’s great. When they say they learned something that they didn’t know that’s even better!

Where can people go to read your work?

My two previously published novels are available on Amazon.co.uk and can be purchased almost anywhere on the internet. They will also be on sale at the East Anglian Festival of Culture in July. I’ll be there too and would love people to stop and say hello!www.eastanglianfestivalofculture.co.uk

Where can people find you on the internet?

I’m on twitter @jmhewitt and more details can be found on my own website: www.jmhewitt.com

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

If anybody does fancy finding out a little more about Chernobyl or my work I’m in the process of arranging lots more events throughout 2016, so do keep an eye on my website.

I’ll also be a ‘guest curator’ on BritCrime in April. BritCrime is a fantastic free online festival made up of many crime fiction authors that usually runs in the summer. Do check them out on Twitter: @BritCrime and on Facebook: BritCrime Authors.

jeanette hewitt~Exclusion Zone cover



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