About Claire Willett:
Claire Willett is an award-winning playwright from Portland, Oregon. Her most recent work, DEAR GALILEO – described by the author as “a play about science, religion, fathers and daughters, sex, creationism, and the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope” – recently received its world premiere with Playwrights West in Portland. Other works include the Scottish folk musical CARTER HALL; the chamber opera THE WITCH OF THE IRON WOOD; and THE DEMONS DOWN UNDER THE SEA, a one-act adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee.” THE REWIND FILES is her first novel.
Claire holds a B.A. in Theatre from Whitman College (Walla Walla, WA) and currently lives in her hometown of Portland where she collects Liberace memorabilia, spends way too much money at Powell’s Books, freelances as a marketing and development consultant for arts nonprofits and spent eight years as a Catholic youth minister.
Follow her at www.clairewillettwrites.wordpress.com, where she blogs about embarrassing herself in front of celebrities, being a gay Catholic, and her obsession with the Olympics.
What inspires you to write?
All the best things I’ve written have started out being inspired by something I’m just really, really nerdily interested in – the kind of thing I like to read about endlessly and bore people with long stories about at cocktail parties. I get inspired by big ideas – religion, politics, history, the way the world works. And I pay a lot of attention to people. I shamelessly steal stories from my own life, I eavesdrop on the bus, I listen to people’s weird conversational patterns and the stories they tell about their families, and that helps inspire the lives and voices of characters.
Tell us about your writing process.
It’s pretty chaotic, actually. I wish I was one of those nice sane writers who get up at six and make coffee and walk the dog and then sit down to write during normal business hours and then go clock out and have a life. But honestly when I’m in the middle of a big writing project I turn back into a college student. I’m drinking too much coffee and pulling all-nighters and then during the day I’m like a shell of a human. I don’t have a disciplined, stop-and-start brain. When the ideas start coming, I really do have to just stay in front of the computer and keep writing until everything has come out. If I take a break, even just to go make a snack or walk around the block, I’ll miss it. So the process of writing a 500-page book in 8 months meant a LOT of late nights. Fortunately my day job now is freelancing, so I can set my own schedule, and adjust around the nights that I’m up writing until four or five.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Ooh, this is a fun question. I think both. With THE REWIND FILES, there was a lot of listening; I felt like I had a really clear sense of Reggie’s voice, and thus of who she was as a person, even before I had really decided what the story would be or what was going to happen to her. But I could hear her and her mother arguing in my head, and the jumping-off point from the story really came from that. I felt like I knew these two women really, really well.
What advice would you give other writers?
It’s useless to measure yourself against other writers who aren’t you. The only sensible yardstick for the thing you wrote is the last thing you wrote. Does each thing you write feel stronger than the last? Then you’re doing it right. You can’t worry about whether or not you measure up to other writers who aren’t you, or you’ll always feel like you’re failing.
Also, I think the best tip is just to always write the kind of books you like to read. Don’t try to impress people by writing what you think THEY want. Tell the stories that you get excited about.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
The opportunity sort of dropped in my lap, actually. I’m a playwright and I never set out to be a novelist, but I had an idea for a sci-fi novel I’d been tinkering around with (without coming close to finishing it) for years that happened to fit perfectly with what Retrofit was looking for. And they liked it enough to say yes just based on the three or four chapters I’d actually written, which was amazing.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I don’t know that I know enough about it to prophecy with any accuracy, but I’m as interested as anyone to watch how the sales trends between e-book and print continue to play out, once e-books have been around for long enough that we have big chunks of data to parse.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: This is my first book, so I would say so far it’s just sci-fi and YA, but I also write plays, which are harder to classify into one particular genre, I think. Nerdy comedic dramas exploring the human condition? Is that a thing?
What formats are your books in?: eBook, Print
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All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit, to allow you, the reader, to hear the author in their own voice.