This blog comes from meeting Clare on Lowdham railway station, both on our way back from Lowdham Book Festival.
What process do you have when you start writing and is it the same for fiction and non-fiction?
My process is the same for both fiction and non-fiction. I research extensively and intensively, then, when I think I have crammed as much as I can into my little head I go away and leave it for a while. Eventually what I think of as an ideal starting sentence will occur to me. After that I plan how it will go in a series of points (either a novel or a piece of non-fiction) and then get writing.
At what point would you involve somebody else to review your work, help you move it on?
My poor husband looks at every chapter after I've finished it, and sometimes I read a fragment out to my local writing group. From their comments I sometimes revise what I've done.
Do you have a set routine when you’re writing?
Not really. When I'm writing I do tend to do an hour's exercise in the local gym first (if I can make myself), but after that I just write flat out.
What’s the best part of writing a book for you?
I love the whole process: I love the planning, the actual writing, and the editing and revising. The only bit I dislike is the business side - the contracts and marketing.
What writers have influenced your writing development?
Ian McEwan, Peter Carey, J M Coetzee, W G Sebald, Margaret Attwood, Carol Shields, Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Graham Swift, Angela Carter, Ray Bradbury - it is almost an endless list of modern writers and changes all the time. I read a lot.
What’s the funniest feedback you’ve had about your writing?
It gave me some wry amusement to see my novel on someone called Jeanie's 'truly dreadful books' list on some internet site - and one chap decided to send me an email with a bit of a rant telling me he wouldn't recommend my book to anyone. At the time it upset me a bit, but once I got some distance I decided that it was quite flattering - it couldn't have been that bad because they'd read it to the end, and at least the book affected them. No work is going to appeal to everyone, and luckily other people have liked my books much more.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re stuck?(if you get stuck that is)
I find listening to soulful music or just reading other people's writing a great inspiration. I don't really get writer's block though - I just keep writing. Sometimes it doesn't turn out very well, but then the next day I have something that I can improve or maybe throw away and start again - when it's usually much better.
You can find out more about Clare at:
Clare's new book has just been published.
A Place of Meadows and Tall Trees
and you can see a 2.53 film about the book which tells the story of the Welsh who crossed the world to find a better life in Patagonia..