Interview with Jo Furniss, author of All the Little Children

We’re talking today with Jo Furniss, author of the new novel, All the Little Children.

Please describe what the book is about.

Struggling with working-mother guilt, Marlene Greene hopes a camping trip in the forest will provide quality time with her three young children—until they see fires in the distance, columns of smoke distorting the view. Overnight, all communication with the outside world is lost. When their sanctuary is threatened, Marlene faces the mother of all dilemmas: Should she save her own kids or try to save them all?

Share a teaser sentence or two from your novel.

ALL THE LITTLE CHILDREN was released on 1 August as a Kindle First selection, so I’ve been having fun looking at my Amazon author widget to see which lines readers have highlighted on their devices. It’s very satisfying when they select my personal favorites:

“All these much-celebrated choices that we have, apparently, us modern women. There are no choices, only higher expectations.”

“You know how people say they would die for their kids? I never got that. What good are we dead? What’s hard is living for your kids.”

“We traveled a land of little terrors, a place where one misstep might kill; one gulp of tainted air, one wound we couldn’t treat, one single bullet. Death would be small. Tiny. It would snatch us in the space between one breath and the next.”

What do you want people to know about your book?

Judge this book by its cover; the premise is dark and the darkness affects the whole family. There’s also humor and hope in there, but not all readers enjoy harrowing stories!

What did you learn about yourself while writing this novel?

Mainly, that I can produce a novel! I struggled with self-belief from pg 1 to pg 301—as most writers do. As a journalist, accustomed to working on transient news stories, I worried that I wouldn’t have the staying-power for a book, so I feel I proved something to myself. Now I’m struggling all over again with novel #2; as a writer friend commented, the only thing she learned from writing novel #1 was how to write novel #1!

What was your timeline from drafting to publication?

All the Little Children started in 2012 as a 1000-word writing exercise for my MA in Professional Writing. I developed it to be a 20,000-word final project, but I decided after finishing the course in 2014 to complete the novel. After lots of workshopping and editing, I started submitting to agents late in 2015. I was signed by Danielle Egan-Miller in February 2016, and the manuscript sold to Lake Union Publishing that summer. Then I worked on developmental edits ahead of publication in August/September 2017. So my timeline spans five years; though at some points it felt like a lifetime!

Briefly, where did the idea for your book come from?

I had recently moved to a small village in Switzerland when my first child was born. Added to the typical isolation that comes from being at home with a new baby, I also knew very few people where I lived and didn’t speak the local language well enough to attend mums’ groups. So, I used to spend hours each day walking in the forests with my daughter strapped to my chest – it is a truly beautiful country, and I fell in love with my child and the landscape at the same time! But my mind was filled with a sense of being cut off from society. I started to wonder what it would be like for a mother to be truly alone with her children; how would I cope without the support structures that we take for granted? When I came to write, I set my story in England because that’s the place I know best, but the idea was born in those Swiss forests!

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?

“Put your bum on the seat and write.” I can’t really add anything to that; it’s all you need to know!

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“A thoroughly original mash-up of mom lit and apocalyptic fiction, All the Little Children is a thrilling ride. Jo Furniss blends heart-racing suspense with genuine emotion—and even dark humor. At last, mothers have an action hero to call their own.” —Elizabeth Blackwell, bestselling author of In the Shadow of Lakecrest

 

“The skillful interweaving of the frustrations of motherhood and the apocalypse makes this different from anything I’ve ever read before. When I finished I was crying on a train, and I didn’t care who saw me.” —Emily Barr, award–winning author of The One Memory of Flora Banks.