Interview with Francis Scullion

Hi Francis welcome to your first Smashwords interview and congratulations on your first book. So, what's the story behind The Left Handed Hurl?
Hi, Thanks for the invitation.
The story developed from the title of the book. My eldest brother was telling me that his son hurled with his left hand and like southpaw boxers this presented certain advantages when dealing with opponents who were accustomed mostly to defending against right handed players.
Throughout history, left handedness has often been seen as a blessing in many legends and myths, helped in some ways by films from the tinseltown of Hollywood. There has always been a fascination in the world of films and stories for extraordinary left handed people. I remember, from my childhood, a western called the Left Handed Gun based on the Billy the Kid story, starring Paul Newman. In my teenage years the Kung Fu craze was raging and I remember a famous martial arts film called the One Armed Swordsman about a guy who loses his right arm and trains himself to become the best ever left handed swordsman. In other words left handedness has always made a good story. So this term, The Left Handed Hurl, played continually on my mind and eventually like in the westerns of yesteryear, like the myths of oriental heroism, I pictured a gifted young lad with extra special abilities due to being left handed. A hurling hero developed in my mind, an ordinary guy with extraordinary talents. A hero, who, on being discovered, becomes the talisman for a down on their luck County team and their attempt at All Ireland Hurling glory.
Your story follows a team through the All Ireland Hurling Championship.....why hurling?
There are no fictional stories about the All Ireland Hurling Championship and although I don't know too much about hurling, I love it as a spectator sport and think everyone should see at least one All Ireland Hurling Final. I couldn't get the idea out of my head and fortunately I decided to write the first Chapter of a book before heading off to deal with the Foot and Mouth scourge that plagued the country at the turn of the century.
With such a demanding career, what inspired you to take the plunge and write a novel?
Fast forward thirteen years to March 2014, when Northern Ireland Libraries offered budding authors a chance to submit a short piece to their Writer in Residence. I didn't really consider myself as an author in any shape or form, but I was in the throes of finishing a scientific thesis on factors that affect racing pigeon performance and I needed a break. I submitted the start of my story to the NI Library in the hope that I had a story worth telling. The best part of the deal was that I got to meet and discuss my writing with Brian Mc Gilloway, the famous crime writer from Northern Ireland. I had expected some words of wisdom that would perhaps direct me in character development and plot structure and other creative writing niceties. I gave Brian a brief background to the story which was still in my head and he insisted that I should finish it. He said he thought it was terrific and even though he wasn't interested in sports he loved reading the submitted piece. That was the encouragement that I needed and I decided to get the whole story down on paper.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember some of the first stories I ever heard were jokes told by my father. He was a great story teller and when he started to narrate a tale you never knew if it was another one of his jokes or actually true. I think this is where I got the urge to tell stories. I just decided on a different medium.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Northern Ireland and since The Left Handed Hurl is set in the eighties it deals with some of the problems people had to contend with in those times.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It may not have been the first but it was my first published piece. I wrote a funny story for our school magazine. Our English teacher named it "Now for Something Completely Different" after the Monty Python comedy sketch show, which, at the time I had never seen. It just goes to show that there's something in the saying "There's a time and place for everything" and topicality, which is available to all of us, stimulates creativity.
What is your writing process?
After slaving over the intricate details of scientific writing where every statement needs to be backed up by researched references, where days and weeks can be spent dealing with real and sometimes, to be honest, boring facts, I found the freedom of creative writing a relief. I spent at most two hours in any session, but mostly an hour. I just made myself comfortable and started to type. I firmly believe that the story must be the driver of the writing process. Occasionally when I stop to think of the perfect word or phrase, I find that the flow can be interrupted or halted. So I feel that, for me, the best way is to get the story down and concentrate on the nitty gritty, in the myriad of edits. Using this method I managed to get about a thousand to fifteen hundred words per hour in the first draft.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The simple answer is that the recession dealt a severe blow to the book publishing industry, leaving it much more difficult to find someone ready to take a risk on a new author. As soon as I saw that indie publishing was a growing sector of the business I knew this was the place to be.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I found Smashwords to be an honest and detailed source of information about the sector with a straight forward method to begin the process of independent publishing.
How do you approach cover design?
My daughter Genevieve is studying Interactive Multimedia Design at the University of Ulster and luckily she agreed to design the cover for me. We discussed some ideas and I left it to her wonderful natural talent. You can see more of her work at
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Telling a story that someone else will enjoy.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am a veterinary surgeon. Over the years my veterinary work has taken me around the world dealing with zoo and wild animal medicine; either treating, capturing or lecturing about animals as varied as sea eagles in Japan to tamarins in Brazil, from elephants in Africa to freshwater fish in Australia. I enjoy writing stories much like the way my father enjoyed telling a joke but when I am not involved in creative writing I spend my working time running a first opinion and referral veterinary practice that specialises in birds and exotic pets including reptiles and small mammals.
What are you working on next?
I am at odds about that. Maybe I will work on a new adventure story I have in mind or put together a factual self help book based on some of the veterinary work I have completed on birds.
Well Francis thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Perhaps you will come back again in the future?
Thank you. I look forward to that.
Published 2015-06-04.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Left Handed Hurl
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 82,600. Language: English. Published: August 21, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » General
Paul Claridge is an ordinary guy with extraordinary talents: A magnificent, fast, unbelievably dexterous, match-winner who falls for a girl from the opposite side of the divide in the heat of the Northern Irish Troubles. Can he contend with the bigotry and hatred from both communities to become the talisman to lead a no-hope team to victory?