Claire – please introduce yourself… I am a retired Headteacher and English Advisor living in Sussex. My writing is generally light-hearted, but contains some serious messages. I run the BFOR (Books for Older Readers) website promoting themes which tend to appeal to readers in mid-life and beyond.
I’ve published one novel, DIFFERENT GENES, a tale of love in later life that also describes the main character’s search for her family history after she discovers, when her mother dies, that she is adopted. I write poetry and have won the occasional award.
What first inspired you to write? It seems a long time ago now. When I learned to write as a child it became a way of giving some structure to a wild imagination. I used to make up stories, then try to recreate them on paper through stories and plays.
What was your first piece of creative writing? How old were you? The first piece I can remember writing was when I was about six years old. The teacher asked us to re-write a fairy story, and I chose the ‘Three Little Pigs’. It was about three pages long, and I was very proud of it!
Which writers do you particularly admire? I still love the Victorian classic writers such as the Bröntes and George Eliot. I particularly admire Jane Austen for the way she weaves humour and structure into her novels. The contemporary writers I enjoy include Anita Shreve and Joanna Trollope.
What do you love about writing? Writing takes me out of my own life and transports me into any world I wish to create. I can meet fictional characters at a venue of my choosing without ever leaving my armchair. When I write, I find myself laughing and crying. Although I do not base my fiction on real people, teasing out the personalities in my books and poems gives me a greater awareness of the people I know. I also enjoy playing around with structure, grammar and vocabulary, especially when writing poetry.
What do you hate about writing? I really enjoy writing and describe it as a hobby which has got a bit out of hand. It is however a nuisance if I am engrossed in a project and can’t stop. I find myself waking in the early hours to finish working on my writing, so that I can still have time for home and family.
I am also far too sensitive about what people think about my work. I know it’s not as good as it could be, so if someone criticises my writing, it plays on my mind. The only other thing I dislike is the final stage of editing. I keep returning to tinker with the wording, and it can be a bit obsessive.
Describe your portfolio of writing. I have published four small booklets of poetry, all of which are illustrated with photographs taken by a friend. These are called SIMPLY BEXHILL, SIMPLY CHRISTMAS, THE DE LA WARR DATE and SEASIDE AND SAILAWAY. All the booklets sell well in my local area, and the profits from SIMPLY BEXHILL are donated to Diabetes UK.
My most recent poetry book ‘Simply Modern Life’ is illustrated with clever pencil drawings by Bexhill based Amber Gee, and was published by Matador in mid 2018. Matador also published my debut novel in 2017.
What is your proudest achievement? From a writing point of view, it is that I managed to take up writing seriously after I retired; it keeps me alert. I have met so many new and interesting people. I’m on the speaker circuit and travel across Sussex and beyond reading my poetry and chatting about my writing.
What is your current project? My second novel is currently with Matador receiving its final copy-edit. The title is MY DAUGHTER’S WEDDING, and the narrative weaves a love story about a couple in their sixties through the theme of family issues involved when organising a wedding. It is unashamedly romantic, and quite a light read, but intended to raise a laugh along the way. You never know how a book will be received until it is let loose on readers, so the pre-publication phase, can be a bit anxious. Nevertheless, I am now beginning to arrange the marketing, and can’t wait to see the cover, which is at present with a designer.
Anything you’d like to add? Just to say that I love hearing from readers, so please feel free to contact me via Facebook or my website.
Thank you, Lynne, for inviting me to take part in this interview.
Great to hear from you, Claire – and good luck with the publication of MY DAUGHTER’S WEDDING