Sunday, September 07, 2014

Author Interview: Claire Smith: God Loves A Trier: No More Butterflies: A Storm Rising

She was born in Sale, South Manchester, England in October 1968.  She still lives in Sale and is now married with two teenaged boys and a newly acquired puppy named Mac.
Since childhood she has always loved to read and soon graduated from The Famous Five, through Swallows and Amazons to the likes of Jacqueline Suzanne, Harold Robbins and Jackie Collins in her teens.  In her twenties she discovered such fantastic writers as Tom Clancy, Frederick Forsyth, Clive Cussler, Wilbur Smith and Robert Ludlum to name but a few.  However, it was not one of these greats who inspired her to write.  It was a series of dreadful books by several someone’s shecan't remember which prompted her to make real the notion "I could do better than this..."
So "No More Butterflies", her first novel, began.  It took several years to write, with children, home life, husband and job all getting in the way at some point or other but eventually it was finished.
Welcome Claire.

Your real name and pen name?   

Both Claire Smith.

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood  -

Memories of my childhood are very mixed, some good some bad.  Of the good ones I remember staying at my grandparents where there was no central heating and my nana used to hang our nightdresses in front of the fire so they were warm when we put them on.  I have vivid memories of laughing with my sister and endless summer days when we played outside all day with the girls from next door.  I suppose one of the biggest memories I have would have to be my first trip overseas, I went to Nigeria to stay with my Aunt and instantly fell in love with Africa and it’s people.


About your education – 

I went to Sale Grammar School for my secondary education which at the time was an all girls school.  It has since become mixed and both my sons go there now.  I achieved 9 ‘O’ levels back in 1985 all with A and B grades but decided to leave education at this point and get out into the world of work.

What career did you plan during your education days – 

As with most teenagers I had no real idea what I wanted to do as a career, perhaps if I had I might have stayed in education to get ‘A’ levels and a degree.

What languages you can speak and write? – 

Realistically I can only speak and write English.  I did do both French and German at school but it was a long time ago and whilst I may still understand enough to get by on a family holiday to either of these countries I doubt I could write a coherent sentence in either language.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life – 

 think I’d have to say people are my greatest source of inspiration, at least, my need to understand how peoples’ minds work, whether they are good or bad people is largely irrelevant I find myself trying to work out what makes them tick and therefore what they may do in any given situation.  It can  make life difficult as I tend to analyse everyone I meet but it also means I understand those close to me better than most.  It’s also great for creating believable characters when writing.

What hurts you most in this world – 

Dishonesty and the damage it can do.  The destruction of trust is the most painful thing I’ve ever had to deal with in my life and most of the time it is so unnecessary, the truth may get you into a spot of bother now and then but lies will damage your life forever.


What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it? – 

My biggest challenge is on-going.  I suffer from depression and anxiety and have done since my teenaged years.  There have been a number of traumatic events in my life which have fuelled the worst of the depression but the underlying problem is always there.  To say I have overcome it would probably be untrue, but I have learned to manage it and live my life the way I want to by working round it instead of letting it control me.  Don’t misunderstand though, there have been times when the depression was very much in control but over the years I have learned to recognise theses times for what they are and seek help as necessary.  Anyone who lives with depression will know it’s a daily fight to keep smiling and keep moving forwards.  The writing has helped an awful lot, I find it very cathartic.

If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?  

Wow, this is such a difficult question to answer, there are so many people both living and dead who I would love the opportunity to get inside the heads of and to try to understand how it feels to live their lives, Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, Ghengis Khan, Joan of Arc, Queen Elizabeth 1, the list goes on.  If I have to pick just one though I think it would have to be the Dalai Lama to try to understand his capacity for forgiveness which is something I do not do very well if at all.

What is your favorite genre and why? 

Thrillers are definitely my favourite genre although I do enjoy many others genres apart from erotica and horror.  With a thriller the possibilities are endless and the possible twists and turns in the plot lines can be as varied as they are numerous.  No danger of getting bored or complacent reading a good thriller.


When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?  

I started writing with any purpose when I was about 18, before that I had written poetry and bits and pieces but nothing of any note.  I’ve never really thought about the purpose of my writing before but now that you ask I would have to say it’s hopefully to give each reader as much enjoyment when they read my books as I have gained from reading other people’s over the years.  Ultimately I want a reader to pick up one of my books and having started it feel compelled to read it to the end.

Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?

I have two novels out at the moment.  No More Butterflies is the first of these and its available in all electronic formats as well as in paperback from Amazon.  The book ‘blurb’ reads as follows - 
No More Butterflies is an emotional roller coaster of a ride, combining an enduring love story with heart-breaking reality. It is a gritty, fast paced tale of manipulation, rejection, abuse, love, honour and friendship. Having faced them all our heroine Emma learns to stand on her own two feet, damaged but determined and still capable of giving her all for what she believes to be right.

This surprisingly uplifting psychological drama, with dark moments and romantic overtones, deals with the subjects of domestic psychological, physical and sexual abuse and the lasting damage these do to their victims.

It covers twelve years in the lives of two initially unconnected girls, Emma and Helen, both the victims of some form of abuse and the very different consequences this abuse has to both their lives.

There are some dark and tragic moments as Emma stumbles from one emotional or physical disaster to the next from the ages of sixteen to twenty-eight. Ultimately it is the realisation of all her clich├ęd romantic dreams which provides her with the trigger she desperately needs to enable her to take control of her own life. It makes her realise the only way to no longer be a victim is to stop relying on others for emotional and physical stability and to stand on her own two feet. It gives her the courage to face her fears and to do what is right for her daughter.

Helen, on the other hand, uses abuse as a weapon with which to defend herself from a world she can not understand. In reality the abuse she has suffered is difficult to define and the line between legitimate psychological damage and inbuilt character traits is blurred.

The two girls' lives come together with devastating effects.

One reviewer gave it five stars saying "...with an ending to rival the ending of 'The Notebook'."

So when you read this book, lock yourself away with a box of tissues because you won't be able to put it down and so far nobody has managed to get to the end without crying. 
My second Novel is called A Storm Rising and is also available in all electronic formats with the paperback coming out by the end of the month from Amazon.  The book ‘blurb’ for this one reads as follows -
As the newly appointed wedding reporter for The Boston Globe, Abigail thought she had left her troubled past behind her. Life for Abi had always been tough but after meeting Aaron Steele it really ought to have carried a government health warning.

With the battle raging between her own damaged psyche and her need to do the right thing, is Abigail setting herself up for defeat or can she overcome her fears and let her true personality help her triumph. Her inbuilt self-loathing and distrust of others drags her inexorably downwards until she hits crisis point.

With her life, her sanity and her journalistic future on the line Abi must learn when to call for help and most importantly, who she can trust.

What are your forthcoming writings?   -  

I have just started my third novel, no title as yet but it is the sequel to A Storm Rising.

What genres you write in and why?    

My writing genre is basically thrillers although both books so far had a psychological element to them too and No More Butterflies had a very strong romantic theme running through it, but it was by no means a romance!  I guess I prefer this genre, even if it is a little mixed because it’s what I like to read, I enjoy it and the struggles, triumphs and set backs people have in life are very meaningful to me.

What keeps you motivating towards writing?  -  

My motivation is seeing the finished product, for me there’s nothing quite so satisfying as finishing a manuscript and then getting to see people’s reactions to reading it.  Each book does take a long time to reach this point but the writing process itself also keeps me motivated, it’s amazing sometimes when you realise a character you have created is dictating the way things have to go in order to conform to the personality you gave them.  As you really get into a novel the story starts to tell itself and then its just a matter of typing or writing fast enough to keep up.

How do you plan, schedule and monitor your writing commitments?  - 

Each novel has had a detailed chapter by chapter plan written before I start but it usually gets revised several times along the way.  I have to set myself deadlines to keep to so that I keep the momentum going, I try not to move deadlines unless I really have to and can often be found writing well into the night to catch up to where I should be.

What are your future plans?  -

=To keep writing, I have a couple of ideas for other novels, not part of the Storm series and ultimately I’d love to make my living just writing one novel after another.  In the meantime I am also looking into writing articles for blogs and other outlets to make some money to live on while I continue writing the books.

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book? – 

To me the absolutely most important aspect of writing is believability, so keeping the storyline and characters plausible has to be the most important thing.  Second, a book has to flow, for me I prefer a rapid flow rate so my books have pace and I work hard to keep that pace without going so fast I miss important details out.  Third, I like a book to stir an emotional reaction so if I can make my readers cry or get angry anywhere in my book I will be sure to get these events into the storyline.  And fourth, unpredictability is important, I don’t like to read a book when I know exactly where it’s going from part way in, I like to be surprised and I like to deliver the same for my readers.

How much real life goes into a fiction writing? – 

To make a book plausible ultimately everything has to be real life for somebody, not necessarily my real life though.  Some parts of No More Butterflies were born out or real life events but the versions appearing in the book were by no means truthful.  So in reality that question is almost impossible to answer.

Is high level of imagination important to have for an Author?  - 

Depending on the genre really, sometimes its more important than anything else, if you’re writing fantasy, futuristic sci fi for example.  In other genres I think creativity and real life observance are probably more important.

Your dream destination on Earth? – 

I’d love to go to Alaska, in a nice warm log cabin in the mountains in the snow.

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?  -

I was born in the UK and have always lived here.  However, I have travelled quite a lot and have visited France, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Jamaica, Aruba and Nigeria.  By far the best thing about travelling to any other country is the diversity of the people you meet, even when language is a problem people are usually ready to help with whatever you need and nothing is ever insurmountable.

Your favorite time of the day? – 

Night-time is my favourite as it’s when I am most awake and at my most productive.

Your zodiac/ sunsign?  -

Scorpio

Your favorite color and why?  -

Blue, perhaps because it’s the colour of my eyes but I don’t really know, it’s just always been blue.

What is the last book you finished reading? What is the current book you are reading?  -  

The last book I finished was Fall of Giants by Ken Follett, I really enjoyed this book but I didn’t feel it had the same impact as the last Ken Follett I read which was World Without End.  I am now reading a book called The Manhattan Deception by Simon Leighton-Porter who is an independent Author like me, so far it seems to be going to be a good read.

Your favorite book and why?  - 

Hard to pick a favourite I have read so many brillliant books.  I suppose I’d have to pick ones which have had the longest lasting effect on me, there are two which spring to mind, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown because it was so plausibly written you almost had to believe it was possible even though you knew it to be fiction.  And second, The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller because it was so emotionally charged it had me in floods of tears almost from start to finish.

Your favorite movie and why?  

None
Your favorite celebrity and why?  

None

Your favorite food?  

Anything I don’t have to think about or cook.  As long as it’s not too spicy, I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to spicy food.

Your favorite sports?  

I don’t like sports.

What is the force that drives you? – , 

I’m not sure there is one, I just get up everyday and push myself forward one step at a time.  Some days this works better than others but if I get to the end of the day and don’t feel I’ve gone backwards then I can consider that day a success.

What comes to your mind when you think of India? 

My first thought?  Elephants – my favourite animal!  Then, tigers, exotic spices, lots of colours, people, old cars.  I guess I have the old romantic view of India and I’m sure it has very little to do with the India of today but it’s a place I’d love to visit someday.

Some quickies:

Sun or Moon
Laughter or Smile,
Morning or Evening
Coffee or Tea, 
Mountain or Sea, 
Long Drive or Short Drive, 
Silence or Conversation, 
Water or Fire, 
Air or Earth, 
Mars or Jupiter,
Tulip or Rose,
Red orBlue,
Left or Right,
Glance or Stare

What three words come to your mind for each –

Technology – iPhone, complicated, amazing,
Life – short, hard, fulfilling , God – faith, war, divisive,
Humanity – cruel, selfish, driven,
Terrorism – unnecessary, evil, waste,
Racism – ignorance, unfair, pointless,
Childhood Abuse – permanent, soul-destroying, shameful,
Love – healing, understanding, life-affirming,
Parenting – Hard, expensive, fulfilling,
Old age – terrifying, relentless, inevitable

The last line of your autobiography would be… – 

If I had to write it now it would have to be “God loves a trier!”

The title of your autobiography would be… – 

A possible title would be “Do I Have To?” -  Talking about myself is my least favourite past-time.

Links & other relevant details:
ISBN-10:            - No More Butterflies 1494845164
                            - A Storm Rising        1501077759
ISBN-13:            - No More Butterflies 978-1494845162
                            - A Storm Rising        978-1501077753
ASIN:                - No More Butterflies     B00CWQ3SZY
                         - A Storm Rising            B00KRDZ0JQ

Twitter handle:            - @clairesmith1100
Amazon link:                - http://smarturl.it/NoMoreButterflies  for No More Butterflies
                                      - http://smarturl.it/ASR.k For A Storm Rising
Any other links:           Website - http://clairesmith1100.wix.com/author-claire

                                      Smashwords Author Page     -     https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/clairesmithauthor 
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