Blog Tour: Dan Knew @fjcurlew

Release date: September 2, 2017


A Ukrainian street dog is rescued from certain death by an expat family. As he travels to new countries with them a darkness grows and he finds himself narrating more than just his story. More than a dog story. Ultimately it’s a story of escape and survival but maybe not his.
The world through Wee Dan’s eyes is told in a voice that will stay with you long after you turn that last page.
The animals in this book are all real, as are their stories. The people’s names have been changed to protect their privacy. Fact or fiction? Well, dogs can’t talk, can they?

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Dan Knew. I have an extract from the book to share with you today.


Dan Knew – Extract
Scotland 2016
I knew it was going to be a bad day: the worst day. The bathroom was full of wasps, buzzing and buzzing. I could hear them from my bed. She screamed, “What the hell am I going to do now? Shit!” I tried to move: to help her, but I couldn’t.
Ukraine 2002
The End Of The Beginning
It was so hot. Too hot to be out in the sun. Safer here in the shadows. Safe from the heat, from the dangers of daytime. The ground was dry and dusty and I could smell the burning of the sun, feel it licking at the walls all around me.
I was with my family: me, my brother and sisters, and my mother. I wasn’t very old and still needed my mother to help me get food, to look after me. She wouldn’t let me feed from her any more; she brought back food instead.
I wanted to hunt. To go out with her. ‘Not yet’, she growled. ‘Not yet’: her teeth bared, her eyes narrow. I knew that meant stay. Serious stay.
We were living under a building. There was a hole we could creep through that led to an almost-underground place, and it kept us safe. We had to hide from a lot of things. From the noisy, big machines that could run faster than us. They would kill us, squash us flat! I had seen it once. A dog that wasn’t quick enough. Trying to get that last piece of food. Snatching at the ground. Eyes staring. A bad noise. The body of a dog.
When the machine had gone I watched, as the other adult dogs sniffed the air, then walked towards it, slowly, slowly, checking all around. Noses high, hackles raised, senses on alert. Fresh meat. They pulled at it, tearing bits of flesh from its body. Growling and snarling at each other.
The stronger dogs ate first. I watched my mother edging forwards, trying to sneak her way to the front. A quick dash, a snap, a growl, and she was running back with meat in her mouth.
I ate well that day. I knew it was dog, but it was dead. It tasted good. Better than the usual scraps that we ate most days. We were hungry a lot of the time, you see. When food came we ate. It didn’t matter what it was.
My mother was out trying to find something for us to eat. I could hear her rummaging through the garbage cans, snuffling through bits of paper and plastic. If she found something she would try and hide it from the others. Run back to us with it before they saw her. There were many of us, you see. Lots of dogs living around here, and we had to fight some of the time.
Well, the adults would fight and we would watch, learning, practising, waiting, until it would be our turn. Usually it was about food, sometimes territory; some other dog wanting our place. Our patch. Occasionally one of them just got angry. I didn’t know why.
Sometimes we would work together, all of the dogs. We’d chase an enemy off. Another dog maybe, from a different pack, a different area. There were other animals for chasing too. Birds, bigger than me, white and noisy with bright orange beaks that could stab. They were scary and we young dogs would keep ourselves well hidden from them.
Noisy, hissing cats with claws sharper than my teeth. Rats. They were food too. Sometimes my mother would catch one and we’d eat. But they could fight, the rats. They could be mean and my mother had scars on her face from them. She had a lot of scars. They all did: the older dogs.
Our biggest enemies were the two legged ones. The humans. We had to hide ourselves really well when they were around. I heard them that day. Their feet stomping. I could see my mother. She was running back to us.
My mother.
Looking back at them, then forward to us. I could sense a very big fear from her. There was a long pole which they lunged at her with. Something pulled her back suddenly by her neck. It was so quick. They had her at the end of their pole. I could see her eyes, wide, staring. Her feet scrambling to stand but she couldn’t.
I didn’t know…I didn’t know what was happening but it was all bad. I kept hidden and watched as they threw her into the back of one of the noisy machines. A big one that had a very bad smell. There were dog noises too. Whimpers, cries, very quiet ones. Very sad ones. Pain ones. I was filled with a big fear and sadness all at once. All together. Mixed up and scary.
The men were coming towards our hiding place. Closer and closer they came. Their smell was bad. It was danger. I was shaking and so, so, scared. One of them had a big bag in his hand. The other one had the pole. I edged back as far as I could. Back, back into the darkest of the dark places. I hoped they couldn’t see me.
They were poking with their pole, backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. I couldn’t see it but I could hear it, smell it, feel it scraping the ground, breaking the air. I was shaking and shaking. There was a yelp. Lots of yelps. I knew the sound. My family! The men had them. They threw them into the bag.
Human voices. A door slamming. The noise of the machine.
The whimpering was getting further away. Nothing left but the smell of the big machine and the badness it took with it.
I stayed there, in my hiding place, and watched. Staring at what had been. Now a space. An emptiness. Nothing but bad feelings. The sun slipped down low in the sky. The shadows grew long and disappeared. It was night time. I listened. The sounds had all changed. I couldn’t hear any of the other dogs. No snuffling, growling, nothing.
It was too scary for me to go out, even though I was hungry. I curled myself up into a tight safety ball, tucked my head under my legs as far as it would go, tried to get to sleep. It wasn’t easy. I kept thinking and thinking about what had happened. Pictures of what I’d seen. Awful ones.
I had never been alone before and I didn’t like it. There was nothing to snuggle up to. No other heartbeats. No kicks and dream noises. No snuffles. No breathing, apart from mine. And mine sounded so loud in this silence that was everything now. This bad, bad silence. Maybe the next day would be better?
I could feel the strength of the sun through the stone of the wall, smell the heat, but I didn’t move. I stayed and watched. When I had to go to the toilet I did it in the den, even though I knew that it was something I shouldn’t do, I was too afraid of the outside. I missed my family so much but I didn’t howl, I knew I couldn’t. I had to be as still and quiet as the emptiness that was left.
All day I waited, pricking my ears at every sound, catching smells, trying to recognise them. There was nothing. They weren’t coming back, were they? I had to move. My stomach told me so, my senses too. I had to move to stay alive. Darkness. Wait for the safety of darkness.
When it came I crept out very slowly, keeping my body low on the dusty ground. So low. Food was what I needed more than anything. I was so hungry that it hurt. I stopped for a moment and sniffed at the air, looked around. There were the shadows of trees and buildings and machines.
I crept a little bit further, standing taller. Then my nose caught it. Meat. I forgot about being scared and ran towards it. The smell. My mouth was wet.
The food smell was coming from a building quite close to our home. I had only seen it from further away before. It was a very noisy place with a lot of people, and at night time, the thump, thump, thump of music. Lots of laughter and humans having fun, but I knew that anywhere there were humans was dangerous for us. We had to be very careful. We kept far away if we could.
Tonight I had to go close.
There was a big piece of hard ground with lots of machines standing on it. I tried not to look, just run towards the smell of the food. Suddenly it was there. A machine, heading straight for me! The lights blinded me. I couldn’t move. I…
A human screamed and I felt a hand swoop me up and lift me so high, away from the machine. My heart was thumping and I was shaking. I didn’t know what was happening to me. If I was in danger, or if I was safe. The hands felt…safe. The human smell felt…safe.
‘Oh, look at you. It’s okay. Really it is.’ A man held me up high and sort of jiggled me, laughing. He must have been really big because I was so far above the ground.
‘Let me see. Is he okay?’ a woman asked.
Her voice wasn’t like the others I’d heard. The noises were a bit different, softer. There was a good smell coming from her. A smell of something friendly. Something kind. Something not hungry, not scared. She felt happy. Good.
‘You are so cute!’ she said. She held me close to her and I snuggled in, hiding my head under her arm. ‘Mum won’t mind,’ she giggled.
‘What about HIM?’ the man with her asked.
It didn’t sound nice. I don’t think he liked HIM.
The woman shrugged her shoulders. ‘It’ll be fine.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Don’t care really. Mum will be delighted.’
I couldn’t see anything because I kept myself tucked under her arm where I felt safest. The noises all changed. The smells too.   We were getting further and further away from my home. Further away from everything. That much I knew. But I felt safe. She felt safe. My eyes got heavy. The jiggling of her walk, the beat of her heart, the sound of her breathing, were all comforting. I fell asleep.


About the Author:

Fiona dropped out of school aged 15, because being the consummate rebel, she hated it! After becoming a single parent she decided to return to education, graduating in 1996 with an honours degree in primary education. Ah, the irony!
As soon as she graduated she packed everything she owned into her Renault 11, including her daughter, two dogs and a cat, and headed off to Estonia to become an international school teacher. After fifteen years of teaching, predominantly in Eastern Europe, she returned to the UK .
She now lives on the east coast of Scotland with two Scottish rescue dogs and a disgruntled Portuguese cat.

Fiona is the author of two books:
To Retribution – A love story/political thriller set in times of turmoil.
Dan Knew – A fictionalised account of her travels told through the eyes of Dan, her rescued Ukrainian street dog.
Dan Knew Blurb
A Ukrainian street dog is rescued from certain death by an expat family. As he travels to new countries with them a darkness grows and he finds himself narrating more than just his story. More than a dog story. Ultimately it’s a story of escape and survival but maybe not his.
The world through Wee Dan’s eyes is told in a voice that will stay with you long after you turn that last page.
The animals in this book are all real, as are their stories. The people’s names have been changed to protect their privacy. Fact or fiction? Well, dogs can’t talk, can they?
Twitter @fjcurlew

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