JJ is delighted to be welcoming Francis today.
Francis comes from a family of five. He is the youngest, perhaps the free spirit of the family. He was educated at various schools, before going on to Art Schools, to do a degree in painting and an MA in printmaking. Francis loved most of his time at Art school, having experienced a painful time at school, where he was an outsider.
Francis moved to Austria in 1995, living there for two years and he began teaching English as a foreign language. Alongside this he has always followed a lot of other creative activities, including music. During the nineties, he did many concerts/raves and some short tours, playing electronic music. While in Austria, he began to write stories.
He moved back to England, where he pursued a teaching career, including teaching English (literature/language) and Art.
Moving to France at the end of 1999, Francis has lived there ever since and has taught among other things British and American culture and Architecture.
Welcome to JJ!
Please summarise Flight of Destiny.
Flight of Destiny is a book of 22 quirky short stories. They are not exactly horror stories, but they have elements of horror. They are also quite witty.
What inspired you to write the short stories?
I moved to a remote village in Austria. It was not far from Vienna, but a very oppressive and strange environment. I thought I should try writing a book. I launched into it…nothing came of it. I do many creative activities, painting as well as writing music. Writing lay dormant, put to one side. Then later, living in Paris at a later point in time, via an advert, I made contact with a man called Alan Clark, who had a literary magazine called “Rat Mort” (dead rat). I submitted four short stories for this magazine, encouraged by Alan, I began to write more and more short stories, and developed a style… I also had short stories in a magazine called “Freakwave” as well having short stories published on the internet. Once I had a body of work it seemed logical to put together an anthology.
I was lucky enough to find a publisher who was prepared to put a whole lot of them together. To some extent my stories are indirectly autobiographical, my life has not been a smooth journey, with many setbacks along the way. I don’t think I consciously draw a line between real events and the fiction I write. I doubtlessly draw from my experiences, good or bad. Flight of Destiny has a lot of stories which hinge on people’s misfortune and unlucky fate.
If you could choose to be one of your characters in stories which would you be Francis?
My stories are about oddballs and freaks, there are also a lot of tyrants. There is a gangster called Gecko, who is surprisingly wise and witty. He seems to enjoy his hedonistic life, so perhaps I could be him.
Please tell us a little about some of the characters.
Bugeyes (from the story Bugeyes)
Poor old Bugeyes, comes from a line of aristocrats with over-sized extended eyes. He is the victim of many an insult concerning those aforementioned eyes. He is rejected at birth by his Mother, and sent to live on the far-reaches of the family estate. His mother goes on to produce another two offspring, the first a male with acceptable sized eyes the other a sister, who like her oldest brother has large eyes and therefore suffers the same fate. Later curiosity drives Bugeyes to find out his true origin and by chance encounters his younger brother sibling. His younger brother is cruel and arrogant and is out to impress his friends, therefore sets the hunting dogs in hot pursuit of Bugeyes. Bugeyes does not speak much in this story, he may be silent but he smart and resourceful.
Little Mite (from the story Little Mite)
Little Mite is quite simply the younger sister from Hell. All is wonderfully set up for a marriage, between her older sister and the love of her life Conner. What could go wrong? It is a great match for both families, The Johnsons have money, the Dashvilles, an old family on the wane, need an injection of money. The family are in the midst of a lunch, which has been organized to make the final arrangements of the wedding. Little Mite excuses herself and takes Connor’s sweet younger brother Jed (who is her age) on an adventure in which he is super glued to her father’s coffee table. She also tortures the unfortunate Jed, whipping his legs with stinging nettles. She returns to the dining table, claiming a terrible accident has taken place. The adults don’t believe her and the Johnson family, leave the Dashville family, in disgust and the wedding in tatters. Little Mite’s prank has gone terribly wrong. She tries to win back her parents favor. She hides in a cupboard and plans to jump out. However this leads to a disaster, as her older sister convinces her father, that they have an intruder and he grabs his shooting rifle.
Excellency (from the story Maggot).
Excellency is quite simply a slime ball. Nobody quite knows his origins, he has risen up from nowhere and now resides in a regal palace. The story begins with a banquet. An equally odious character named Maggot, is trying to sell Excellency his daughter, to try to alleviate some of the debts, his circus accumulated. Excellency after some nervous bargaining finally agrees to buy the daughter, before whisking her off to have his wicked way with her. Unfortunately for Excellency, all does not go to plan and with the aid of a magic incantation, Excellency is stricken with an inexplicable malaise, in which all he tastes, and sees seems, explicably ugly. He has been cursed by the young circus girl, and all those sent to his aid, believe he is on the fast route to insanity.
The Duke (from the story Duke)
The Duke is a fraud. He has been sent to prison and indeed sentences to death, for some unexplained reason and is arrogantly treating his impending death as if he is on a short pleasurable short holiday. He treats the Prison Governor with contempt. He demands to be treated like a Duke, but as the story progresses he is found out, and is fraudulently using the title. Equally he is a bad husband and a terrible father, who has already gambles away his son’s inheritance. There are those in the prison who admire his panache and rules are laxed, in his favor. Duke is likable, but equally highly detestable.
Did you do any research Francis?
I spend quite a long time researching, mostly on websites.
What scene was the hardest to write?
There is a scene in “Arrival” in which an entity forces itself out of a man’s body, in the same fashion as in the film “Alien”. It was hard to make it appear remotely plausible. I have worked hard with the continuity and logicality of my stories.
Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book were optioned for a movie?
I would cast a young Jack Nicholson, you just have to admire his acting. Johnny Depp would have to feature, as well as Christina Ricci.
Who designed your cover Francis?
I designed the front and back cover for my book, as well as 22 illustrations which go with each story.
Do you have a book trailer?
Yes I do, I wrote the music for it.
Which authors have influenced your writing?
I love the work of Rupert Thomson, who wrote “Dreams of leaving” as well as other books. I met him when I was a new student at Art College and he and his writing has made a long lasting impression on me. I also read a book by Roald Dahl, many years ago called “Kiss Kiss” and I think this book has stayed long in my mind, and had a direct influence on Flight of Destiny, in terms of the fact that I always aim to put a twist at the end of each story, in the same way Roald Dahl does, with his short stories.
Finally Francis, what message would you like your readers to take with them after finishing
Flight of Destiny?
I would like readers to perceive things in a different way. I would like them to see the world through the eyes of the underdog or outsider. I would like readers to think about how cruel people can be to one another. In my stories the oppressed often rise up in the end and enact some kind of revenge. There are many messages.
Thank you for sharing with JJ’s readers Francis.
Wishing you success with all your creative projects.
Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Savant Books & Publications LLC; 1 edition
Available to purchase from: