Born in Brussels, brought up in Europe, Africa and America, Claude Nougat is a Columbia U. graduate in economics. In her busy working life, she followed in Jack London’s footsteps and dabbled in a range of jobs from banking to publishing, journalism, marketing and college teaching before joining the United Nations in Rome (FAO, Food and Agriculture Organization). Here, after 25 years of service, she was promoted (to her surprise) and ended as Director for Europe and Central Asia.
Claude is the author of many books, including two in Italian that won several awards in Italy, and seven in English, all fiction except one essay on development aid. Her most recent book is a romance, “Crimson Clouds”, exploring the complexities of mature passion. Claude is considered a prime exponent of Boomer literature and has founded a group on Goodreads (500 members to date) to discuss Boomer Lit.
Her poetry has been included in “Freeze Frame”, an international poetry anthology curated by British poet Oscar Sparrow, published by Gallo Romano Media in 2012.
Claude is married and lives in Italy.
What inspires you to write?
The world around me. My friends. People I have met. People I have heard about and their experience. My own experience. But what really moves me to write is when I have an insight into something, a situation, characters, conflicts. Suddenly I understand something I didn’t understand before. I want to share my insights.
For example, with the novel “Luna Rising”, I am not just talking about the experience of coming of age. What worries me most is personal identity. How do you know you are who you really are and why? Do some of your character traits come from your mother, your father or maybe some unknown ancestor? Genetic inheritance could determine who you are and why you act this way. If that is the case, then how much freedom of decision do you have? The main character in the book, Tony Luna, age 19, has to find the answers to these questions and, unlike us, he’s in a unique position. He meets all his ancestors (they’re ghosts) going back 900 years, and he can figure out exactly who he takes after. But the discovery terrifies him and haunts him: does it mean his life will replicate that ancestor’s life or is there some leeway and he can build his own?
The novel I am working on now is turned to the future – but not too distant, it is set 200 years from now, at a time when one can reasonably expect that the trends we see today, in particular income inequality (the rise of the One Percent) and the increase of pollution along with the related extinction of species, are confirmed and will cause life as we know it to come to an end. What will happen? Can humanity be saved? One way out might be to fly off into space and settle some distant, pristine planet; another way might be to take refuge in the last untouched continent, Antarctica, and wait for the disaster to take place on every continent before fanning out and resettling the Earth again. I visualize people fighting over the best way to save humanity, that’s what the book is about (in fact, it’s called “The 23rd Century”). The writing is on the wall, the world is due to end, the “sixth extinction” is upon everyone threatening the survival of Man, yet people still love, work, have a family the way we do now. That, the human condition, is what intrigues me and keeps me writing.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m a seat of the pants writer. No whiteboard, no special software, not even a notebook. Sometimes, just flying pieces of paper with a key word or two, that’s it. On the other hand, my first draft gets re-written several times, and every time it expands. Things I had forgotten on the first round get added. You could say that my first draft is really a deeply annotated outline.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I see them, I hear them talk, I get inside of their minds. That’s what so much fun! They are very real people and they constantly surprise me, doing things I didn’t expect them to do.
What advice would you give other writers?
I don’t find it easy to give advice to anyone, much less writers who are a rather special lot (like all artists, nothing new there). I think everyone has a different way to relate to their own muse. What works for me – for example, avoiding any and all outlines – may not work for you. With time, we all find the method that works best for each of us. Trust me, if you keep at it and write every day, it happens. I guess the best advice is simply write, write, write.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I was first traditionally published (here in Italy, my first book came out in 1991) and then I took the plunge and started to self-publish in 2011, using Amazon’s excellent and easy-to-use KDP system. This said, I wouldn’t advise new authors to jump into self-publishing before having exhausted the traditional route. For indies, the learning curve is really steep ( in terms of editing requirements, book covers etc) and marketing is a true (and exhausting) challenge. It is a challenge too if you’re traditionally published, but at least you can count on your publisher’s support and his “imprimatur” is a seal of quality for your readers. That makes it a lot easier.
Once you’ve acquired your fans, then you should consider self-publishing, not before. I know there are some amazing success stories like Amanda Hocking and Hugh Howey, but they’re the outliers, the “black swans”. For one like them, there are a million, or at least five hundred thousand authors who are not like that.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I’m a firm believe in books. I know some people compare publishing to the music industry and predict the end of the publishing industry as we know it, but I don’t think that’s very likely. Books are not pieces of music, they are a much longer form of entertainment and one that morphs into all sorts of different ways to be consumed, from video games to Hollywood movies, and lately, TV series.
The future is not bleak, on the contrary. But it will require a lot of flexibility from writers and the ability to write in different ways, short, long, screen scripts, plays, game outlines etc
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
romance, techno-thriller, science fiction, historical, Young Adult, New Adult, Boomer Lit, poetry
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print