Most of you won’t know Claire. She has yet to publish her debut novel but has been a faithful writing buddy of mine since last year and is a fellow founding member of Team Squirrel (Go Team Squirrel!). She has a couple of projects ongoing at the moment and I’m hoping that she’ll finish a novel sometime later in the year (Yes Claire – you WILL get there), squirrels and all. Here is a snapshot into her thoughts:
For anyone that doesn’t know, you’re a fellow founding member of
‘Team Squirrel’. In your own words, can you tell us what Team Squirrel is and what it means to you?
Well, dear interviewer; the year was 2012, the season was NaNoWriMo… to me Team Squirrel is all about the shared love of writing and the inevitable madness that goes with it. I wouldn’t like to say that the Squirrels are the most committed members of the 2012 NaNo meet-up posse, but I think I would say we’re the most likely to explode into giggles. Except Bryan. He’s more of a quiet chuckler. I think it’s good that we still meet up now it’s January. I think Team Squirrel is a group of people who started out as shy acquaintances that met due to a shared pastime who have become friends.
I know that NaNoWriMo is a big part of your year – have you any
NaNo disasters or achievements that you can share with us?
Last year (2011), as you know, I had a November 30th CRISIS when my laptop bluescreened and I didn’t have a backup. It was extremely stressful but luckily my fellow now-Squirrel Zoe was there to do tech support and we completed our fifty thou with hours to spare in a popular coffee chain. In terms of achievement, I think just making it through every year is a major accolade. This year I was working full time, living with my boyfriend and making costumes for the school play and I still fit it all in. I am as shocked as anyone.
I’m quite pleased with this year’s effort: on day three I scrapped my story because it was boring and started again using only the NaNo Word Sprints prompts to guide me. I’ve got the workings of a great story and I had no idea how it was going to work out from one half hour to the next.
What writing projects are you currently working on?
About half a dozen things… I’m hand-writing the first draft of a vampire/steampunk thing in the hopes that it will one day pay my grandkids through university; I’m going back over my 2010 NaNo in the hopes of finishing and editing it; I’m supposed to be writing a one-act play for my friend Anton who is a director in Kazakhstan; a couple of high fantasy pieces which are probably quite cringeworthy; and of course the two stories that came to me in a dream: The Baby Factory (it’s about the Tooth Fairy) and its sequel Hitler’s Teeth.
What influences your writing? I know Terry Pratchett is a favourite
stylistically, but are there others? They don’t have to be literary
Pratchett isn’t a conscious stylistic influence, I just think we have a similar sense of humour. I think what he does is very successful and I certainly enjoy reading his books but that’s not what I’m aiming to emulate.
A lot of the time I’m actually influenced by bad writing showing me what I don’t want to do. I really hate clunky expositional dialogue, for example.
I just read a blog post, actually, about treating a piece of writing like a lover which made a lot of sense to me. We all fall into the rut of functional, long-time-habit writing when each piece should be given the attention you would give to the best night’s sex you’ve ever had. There are times for quick, one-draft poems or essays, and there are times for slow, languorous deep explorations of character and plot building to a satisfying climax (if you’ll pardon the expression).
What’s your writing process, from concept to The End?
I like that you assume I have one. It depends on the project. I try not to micro-manage. I have broad signposts of specific plot or an ending I’m trying to get to but I let the detail fill itself in as it arises. I don’t like acting as though the story is sentient and the characters suddenly take over but I think I’m pretty flexible.
Are there any books out there in the world that you really wish
I don’t know. There are books that I really love where I really admire the author’s scope and imagination, but if I’d had the idea would I have written it the same way? I don’t think I covet someone else’s work as-is that much. I might love the book but if I’d written it I don’t think I’d like it as much. The way a reader connects with and obsesses over a book is different to the way its author does.
You’re quite a creative person. Can you tell us about your other hobbies?
A large chunk of my time is taken up by dreaming of all the projects I could do if I had the time.
I am quite practical. I’m not arty in the sense that I can’t really draw, but I sew and do cross-stitch and embroidery and I’m fairly happy with that. I made a stocking for my nephew for Christmas and I taught myself blanket stitch for that which is useful! I have a stack of sampler and cross stitch design books that I lick occasionally before putting them away in despair because I’m too busy. I’ve been roped into helping with the costumes for the school drama festival and the play they’re doing is about pirates so there are various nautical and sea-life costumes to make for that. A lot of the craft that I do has sprung from my ten year involvement in historical re-enactment. I’ve made various articles of period clothing and accessories and researched crafts and designs from the twelfth century.
Sometimes I even eat and sleep.
If you could have dinner with any 3 people alive in the world
today, who would it be and why?
This is always a really hard question because I feel like meeting my idols even hypothetically would probably just be really disappointing but it seems like a cop-out to say something corny like “the three friends I made backpacking across America that I haven’t seen in years!” or something. Do I have to have dinner with them at the same time or can I go on three separate dinner dates? (In which case date 1 would be Nathan Fillion and then I’d cancel the other two and run away with him)
I honestly don’t know. I’d be too afraid my three guests wouldn’t get on, and the whole evening would be a disaster, and cancel the whole thing!
What’s your favourite word?
My favourite French word is “fauteuil” 🙂
I like nice-sounding words like “coruscate” and “recondite”. “Obfuscate” is a great one. Language is my real obsession. I like all words, really, except “tummy”, “hubby”, and “poorly”. I don’t like them.
And finally, if you could give an aspiring author one piece of
advice, what would it be?
The old cliché: “keep at it”. It’s so annoyingly true. Even if you add one sentence on one day, and a chapter on another, you can’t give up. If the words are in there, they’ll leak out eventually. It’s up to you where you put the tap. And FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, back up your files.