About Clare Flynn:
I live in England – in west London but am soon going to be moving to the seaside – to Sussex. I’m looking forward to having a view from my window over the sea as I write and sitting on my terrace watching the sunset at the end of the writing day.
I’m now a full-time novelist – my fourth book is currently being edited and will launch in spring (2016).
I used to work in marketing (well being an author I still do!) – and I marketed brands from Pampers to tuna fish. My work enabled me to live in Paris, Brussels, Milan and Sydney and I’ve always loved the chance to experience living abroad first hand. Travel is a consistent theme in my books – my characters are displaced from the homes, countries and ways of life they love and have become accustomed to – and forced to adapt to new and often hostile circumstances.
When I’m not writing I love to paint in watercolour – as an enthusiastic dabbler. I love quilting too. I read voraciously and enjoy movies and TV dramas. I can also be a bit bossy – the inevitable consequence of being eldest of five children.
What inspires you to write?
I’ve wanted to write since I was a small child and I wrote poems and stories all the time. My degree was in English Language and Literature when everyone on the course wanted to write – and instead I went into Marketing. My work was very demanding and involved a lot of travel so creative writing was on the back burner with many started but unfinished attempts at novels.
I started my first novel, A Greater World, after my second trip to Australia, after which I began a new career as a self-employed management consultant. It took a long time to finish – the first draft was stolen with my laptop in a burglary and I had no back-up so had to begin again. That made me realise that writing was like a burning itch that I finally had to scratch and ever since I have been compelled to keep on bashing that keyboard. It’s like a drug!
When I write I lose track of time and enter another world. It’s quite simply the best thing in life – and I have to tell the stories. I used to see myself as the opposite to a completer-finisher – until I began writing books and I now find I have no choice but to write.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m a little bit of both. I was a pantser when I wrote my first book and vowed “never again!” as I got tangled up my time-lines and in all kinds of messes that a bit of planning would have sorted out.
Nowadays I do a very broad outline and some work to sketch out characters. I work in Scrivener which I love. Inside the software I keep all my character sketches (including photographs), the outline, explanatory notes and all my research. Despite this planning once I start writing the characters take over and often drag me in a different direction – but at least I have a roadmap to refer to if we do go off piste.
I love researching. I do some general reading around my subject matter then do more detailed research as I go along. I like this approach as it breaks the day between being creative and analytic and exercise both parts of the brain ensuring I never get bored. As well as researching in books and online I often travel to gather stimulus and ideas and to immerse myself in the location of a book – I spent 2 weeks living in a 1930s tea planter’s bungalow in India when I was writing Kurinji Flowers. I walked the same hills and paths that my characters walked, painted some of the same subjects and spent some time inside an old colonial club.
I try to write every day and manage about 1000-1500 words. This year I did NaNoWriMo and found it touch but invigorating – I was thrilled to hit the 50,000 words in a month target and loved the scary experience of just forcing the words out, leaving no room to doubt. It was a great way to break the back of a book – although it has taken 3 more months to complete, craft and refine to the point where it was ready to go to the editor.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t talk to them – but I do listen. They haunt my sleep as well as my waking hours. They often refuse to do what I want them to do and drag me kicking and screaming behind them.
What advice would you give other writers?
Just do it.
Edit, edit, edit – make it as good as you possibly can.
Not every reader will love you or your characters. Trying to please everyone is a recipe for dullness.
Read your work back aloud.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I found an agent who gave me some excellent guidance on my first book, A Greater World, but after sterling efforts and great feedback, she was unable to land me a publishing deal. This was a long process and I felt divorced from it. I worked on my second book then decided to have a go at independent publishing, uncertain whether I would like it. In fact I loved it. I am in control of the process, using experts for editorial services, cover design, formatting etc. I joined ALLi – the Alliance of Independent Authors which has been absolutely brilliant. Through them I have met some amazing talented authors, made new friends, accessed expert advice and support and feel part of a vibrant professional network.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think it is going through a massive change and the trade publishers are looking increasingly desperate to preserve the old world. Readers now have a massive range of books to choose from and authors they would never have been able to access are now out there selling lots of books that otherwise wouldn’t see the light of day. Yes there are self-published books that look amateur and are poorly written and edited – but they won’t be around for long. Ambassadors for self-publishing such as ALLi are standard bearers for quality – and the ultimate judge is the reader – no longer dependent on publishers to act as unelected gatekeepers. Indies are becoming more confident and I predict more trad published authors will jump ship – I was talking to one this morning. Those who are fearful about managing the technical and promotional aspects should not fear, but instead embrace the growing number of outstanding editors, proofreaders, designers, promoters etc out there who can act as a virtual professional team. Trade publishing is not going to die but will be more focused on bricks and mortar retailers and physical books – and dealing with blockbuster books often involving celebrities.
There is no either/or for me between paper and digital products. Both have a place. I only use paper books for research and enjoy reading paperback fiction – but for reading in bed, travelling and reading on the Tube, there’s no separating me from my Kindle.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Historical fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
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.