Mastodon The Writing Desk: Special Guest Interview with Author Apple Gidley

4 December 2017

Special Guest Interview with Author Apple Gidley

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Fireburn tells of the horrors of a little-known, bloody period of Caribbean history. Anna weathers personal heartache as she challenges the conventions of the day, the hostility of the predominantly male landowners and survives the worker rebellion of 1878, 
thirty years after Emancipation.

Today I would like to welcome author Apple Gidley:

Tell us about your latest book

Fireburn was an event on St Croix, in the Danish West Indies (now the US Virgin Islands), which took place on October 1st, 1878. It was the worker rebellion that finally changed the labour laws, thirty years after emancipation. Though a short-lived riot, it was bloody and resulted in deaths and the burning of Frederiksted on the western end of the island, and numerous plantation houses. The events affect all who live at Anna’s Fancy, a sugar plantation that has been in the Clausen family for three generations. Anna, a young Anglo-Danish woman, returns to St Croix after ten years in England. She finds the estate in shambles due, in part, to her father’s failing health, and resolves to bring it back to life despite the declining sugar industry.

Anna, faced with personal heartache and hurdles, is sustained by the support of Ivy, her lady’s maid from London, Sampson, the black foreman, and eventually Emiline, the estate cook and local weed woman. Fireburn impacts all on the island, none less than Niels, the bastard son of her husband and his mulatto lover. At a a time when women had little voice, Anna confronts the conventions of the day, and the hostility of the predominantly white male landowners. Fireburn, the novel, is a love story - for an island, and a man.

What is your preferred writing routine?

On a perfect day, I read the paper, do the crossword - or as much of it as I can - check email and social media, and then get down to writing. I will have done most of the research beforehand but there is always something else to look up as the words flow. I find if I clear the peripheral things I focus better. And some days that works brilliantly, others not so much. But I am learning to accept the not-so-good days. It is one of the reasons I enjoy blogging. It is a wholly different style of writing and it seems to free the words up a little. I drink copious amounts of tea, one cup of coffee, and if I’m writing at night there will be a glass of wine, or bourbon, at my side.

I am perfectly happy sitting at my desk all day, and half the night if my husband is travelling, but I have a dog who needs walking so I am forced to move - which is a good thing!

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Writing is a solitary game, and it can be scary - particularly when you first submit your precious words for public scrutiny - but for me it is the most satisfying thing in the world. Writing a book is like your own personal magical mystery tour - once the characters take on their own lives you become the cipher and that is exciting.

Don’t panic when the words don’t come - they will. I find if I force the words, the next day on the read back, they appear wooden and the dialogue flat.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

Guest blogging and interviews - both written and radio - have helped. And if you can get your books onto the book club circuit that is a huge help with word-of- mouth recommendations. I also have formed relationships with local book sellers, who are always happy to talk up local authors. And of course, the more reviews on the ubiquitous Amazon, the better.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

When I started the research for Fireburn (the book was initially called Anna’s Fancy) I was sure the focus would be around the transfer in 1917 of the Danish West Indies to US ownership, but the more I researched, the more I realized I wanted to write about how life was in the 40 years before transfer, and then I stumbled across ‘fireburn’ and that was it. The event became the focus around which the characters lived.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

Graham Green said, and I paraphrase, that in order to write well, a writer must retain ‘a splinter of ice’. There is one particularly unpleasant scene in Fireburn and I found that difficult to write because fortunately I have never been exposed to violence like that. But again, the characters took over and almost wrote themselves.

What are you planning to write next?

I have started the sequel to Fireburn, which has the working title of Transfer of the Crown and which, this time, will take Anna et al through to US ownership. It’s fun to develop the younger characters who in the first book had relatively minor roles. But who knows the twists and turns they will take on the way. I do know there will be action taking place in London and Copenhagen as well as on St Croix. I’m working toward a release date of March 31st 2019….. we’ll see!

Apple Gidley

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About the Author

Apple Gidley is an Anglo-Australian author whose life has been spent absorbing countries and cultures, considers herself a global nomad. She currently divides her time between Houston, Texas and St Croix, in the US Virgin Islands. She has moved 26 times, and has called twelve countries home (Nigeria, England, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Papua New Guinea, The Netherlands, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand, Scotland, USA, Equatorial Guinea), and her experiences are described in her first book, Expat Life Slice by SliceHer roles have been varied - from magazine editor to intercultural trainer, from interior designer to Her Britannic Majesty’s Honorary Consul. Now writing full time, Apple evocatively portrays peoples and places with empathy and humour, whether writing travel articles, blogs, short stories or full-length fiction. Find out more at Apple’s Blog and find her on Facebook andTwitter @expatapple


  1. Thanks so much for the interview - it was fun!

    1. Thanks Apple - I loved this book and am looking forward to reading the next one


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