Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Jayne Cowie Interview - Curfew

Photo Content from Jayne Cowie

As an avid reader and life-long writer, Jayne Cowie also enjoys digging in her garden and makes an excellent devil’s food cake. She lives near London with her family. You can find her on Instagram as @CowieJayne


Can you tell us about your new novel, CURFEW?
CURFEW is set in a near future Britain in which all men are electronically tagged and not allowed out after 7 p.m. The curfew has been in place for fifteen years, so it’s not something new, and everyone has adjusted to the restrictions. The story follows the lives of three women; Sarah, who’s husband is in prison for breaking curfew, her teenage daughter Cass, who hates curfew, and Sarah, a teacher, who is trying to navigate dating and her desire for a family in a world where men are restricted.

Which characters did you enjoy writing the most?
Sarah and Pamela were my favourites. I enjoyed writing Sarah because she’s angry, and she’s using that feeling to drive herself forward into a new chapter of her life. She’s very determined to live her life in a way that works for her. Pamela was great to write because she’s intelligent and pragmatic but she’s also something of a rebel. She has a clear sense of what is important and what isn’t.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would like to introduce Cass to Lucky Santangelo, from Lady Boss by Jackie Collins. Lucky is glamourous and wealthy and understands the power of her sexuality. I think Cass would be both intimidated and impressed by this. At the same time, Lucky understands the games that she plays with men in a way that Cass can’t, not yet. She would certainly show Cass a good time.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I had entertained the idea of being a writer as a teenager because I was always very good at creative writing at school, but having no idea how to make it a reality, never really took it anywhere. Through my twenties the urge was buried by university and work and marriage and then children. It resurfaced after the birth of my second child, when I suddenly found myself desperately in need of a creative outlet, something to stimulate my brain before it dissolved and started leaking out of my ears. It had to be something that didn’t require childcare and didn’t cost any money. I had a library card and a laptop; it turned out that those were enough. I wrote an utterly dreadful novel which was got the rejections it deserved. They didn’t put me off. I wrote another, and another, and have continued to do so ever since.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book?
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynn Jones. Howl is so vain and so flawed (the scene where his attempt to change his hair goes wrong and he hides in his room is hilarious), but he’s also strong and protective and kind, and to have Sophie exist in the body of an old woman for most of the book is a stroke of genius. There’s also a moment in the book where Jones pulls Howl and Sophie into the real world, our world, which elevates the world building to another level.

Tell us about what you’re working on next!
At the moment I’m working on the follow up to CURFEW, which asks what would happen if we identified a genetic cause for male violence. The story follows two sisters who give birth to baby boys only a few months apart. One of the sisters has her son tested for the gene, and one doesn’t, something which doesn’t seem like a big deal at the time. But as the boys grow up, the decisions their mothers made for them affect every aspect of their lives as society adjusts to the fact that men can be categorized as good or bad from the moment of birth.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
It’s thrilling to see the book go out into the world and see readers and reviewers start to pick it up, especially because this book touches on an issue that is so important to me personally.

  • 1. The Witness by Nora Roberts
  • 2. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  • 3. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
  • 4. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  • 5. Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • 6. The Fifth Season by N.K Jemisin
  • 7. Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb
  • 8. I am, I am, I am by Maggie O’Farrell
  • 9. Americanah by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie
  • 10. Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez
Writing Behind the Scenes
CURFEW was an interesting novel to write. It came to me all at once, almost fully formed, something which is very unusual. I should preface this by saying (especially for anyone who is trying to get published) that I’ve been writing for a long time, I’ve written a lot of novels that haven’t worked, and I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing when I sit down to write despite having an agent and a trad publishing deal. But with CURFEW all the pieces seemed to fall into place. I suppose you could say it was the right idea at the right time.

It started with a simple what if. What if men were not allowed out at night? Everything else grew from that. I thought about what would need to happen for that to become real; how it would be enforced, how society would react to it, how it would change the way people live and work. I knew from the start that I only wanted to include female points of view. And I wanted different women, at different stages of their lives. That gave me my three main characters. I got their names by looking through some of the books on my bookshelf; I like to look at the author names on the spines rather than characters. I also like to watch the credits at the end of films – you can find some amazing ones there. When I see a name that fits a particular character, I know straight away. Then I started to weave the lives of these women together in this world that I’d created. It’s not an adventure story; they’re not trying to save the world, they’re simply carrying out their daily business in a society that has been designed for them.

Most of what I know about writing I taught myself through trial and error (mostly error). I’m somewhere between a plotter and a pantster. I plan as much as I can, but most of the book is figured out in the writing. When I start, I usually have of rough idea of the main characters and I know how the book needs to begin and end. I write through the first draft as far as I can, without reading back what I’ve written, trying to put down around 3,000 words a day. That helps me figure out who the characters really are, which also tells me if the plot twists I’ve dreamt up are the right ones. If a character just wouldn’t make that choice or act that way, I’ve got the plot wrong. Then I throw that first draft away and write the story again. I wish there was a way round this, but if there is, I’m yet to find it. It just seems to be the way my brain works. I write on a laptop with a notepad to scribble in if I need to work something out. I use a hardback thesaurus when I’m stuck on a particular word. I turn the wifi off. If you’re an writer, social media and email are not your friends! It’s just a case of doing the work. Writing is about solving a puzzle of your own creation. It’s hard. But it’s always worth it in the end.

Think The Handmaid's Tale but with the women in charge, set in a world where all men are electronically tagged and placed under strict curfew, and the murder investigation threatening to undo it all.

Imagine a near-future Britain in which women dominate workplaces, public spaces, and government. Where the gender pay gap no longer exists and motherhood opens doors instead of closing them. Where women are no longer afraid to walk home alone, to cross a dark parking lot, or to catch the last train.

Where all men are electronically tagged and not allowed out after 7 p.m.

But the curfew hasn’t made life easy for everyone. Sarah is a single mother who happily rebuilt her life after her husband, Greg, was sent to prison for breaking curfew. Now he’s about to be released, and Sarah isn’t expecting a happy reunion, given that she’s the reason he was sent there.

Her teenage daughter, Cass, hates living in a world that restricts boys like her best friend, Billy. Billy would never hurt anyone, and she’s determined to prove it. Somehow.

Helen is a teacher at the local school. Secretly desperate for a baby, she’s applied for a cohab certificate with her boyfriend, Tom, and is terrified that they won’t get it. The last thing she wants is to have a baby on her own.

These women don’t know it yet, but one of them is about to be violently murdered. Evidence will suggest that she died late at night and that she knew her attacker. It couldn’t have been a man because a CURFEW tag is a solid alibi.

Isn’t it?
You can purchase Curfew at the following Retailers:

1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.