Hi Clare! Let’s start with an easy question. Which part of the world do you hail from?
Warrington in the North West of England.
What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. I’m SO late to the party on this book, as it was published in 2005, but a friend recommended it to me and I really enjoyed it. Set in a dystopian future where people are either converted via an operation to be ‘Pretty’ or remain what is classed as an ‘Ugly’ for life, it is a really interesting take on how we judge people on their appearance without looking beneath the surface. I would definitely recommend the book, and am planning on reading the sequel, ‘Pretties’ soon.
Aside from writing and reading, what do you love doing most?
My other love (or obsession) is the theatre. I will watch anything, but musicals are my favourite, the brilliant ‘Hamilton’ being my most recent obsession. I cannot wait to get tickets for it! I love the more modern musicals though, not the older, ‘they-all-lived-happily-ever-after’, twee musicals. My all-time favourite musical is Rent, which is a pretty grim rock-based piece first performed in 1994, which I have seen over 15 times.
I’m also a huge Harry Potter geek and have just re-mortgaged my house for some tickets to the Cursed Child for November. This brings me on to my final love: spending time with my children. Four tickets instead of just two for the Cursed Child raised the price somewhat!
Where do you write your books and what’s your choice of drink and music to keep you typing away?
To be honest, I write wherever and whenever I can. This includes our office at home, when my husband is not working in there, at our dining room table, on the sofa in the lounge (I’m fairly sure this is doing terrible things to my posture!) and I also do a fair bit of writing whilst sitting supervising my children at various clubs. This can mean writing whilst sitting in a village hall or outside school, often in my car. In terms of music, I’m afraid silence is golden for me – I generally like peace and quiet when I write and, although I can generally tune out the noises of my children’s clubs, I can’t write with any kind of music on. And as for a drink? A good, old-fashioned British cup of tea of course!
Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I have tried to be a plotter. Desperately. I really want to have a JK Rowling-esque plan of every plot line in my series, but it doesn’t work for me. As I write, I find my characters often take on a life of their own, doing and saying things I definitely didn’t plan for. I do have an overview of where the series, and each separate book, is going, and I list plotlines I am aiming to include in each book, but I have to constantly review these as they change when I am writing. I think this puts me somewhere between a plotter and a pantser. Recently I took part in NaNoWriMo and it taught me a new (and slightly amusing) term which I think probably fits me best: a ‘Plantser’.
Do you have any children or pets?
No pets (I’m fairly allergic to most of our furry friends) but I have two children: Daniel aged 10 and Amy aged 8. Like I said, I love spending time with them, especially now that they are older and developing into really funny, interesting human beings with proper characters of their own. I’m currently attempting to pass on a love of reading and theatre to them both. Fairly successfully so far I think! That’s not to say bringing them up isn’t challenging… Amy is currently trying desperately to persuade me that we need a pet, which isn’t going to happen, so you can well imagine the ‘interesting’ conversations which take place in our house…
What three books have influenced your style of writing or the themes you write about the most and why?
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: I read this at university on my English Literature course and it resonated with me in so many ways. I remember being horrified by the control that those in charge had over the citizens, the lack of personal freedom and the very real threat of infertility. I could imagine the events actually happening in real life, and that’s what made it all the more frightening. I think my love of dystopian literature stemmed from this book, and there are elements of the Flow series that deal with population control in a different way, that I’m certain came from this classic.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: perhaps an obvious one, but again I loved the horror it instilled in me, and yet how real the society seemed. When writing the Flow series, I thought a lot about the ‘world’ of my book and created the complex society of The Beck, which has some similarities to Panem, though is far more ‘isolated’ than the thirteen districts of HG. I didn’t realise until I started writing just how much of a challenge creating an entire world would be though, and my hours of editing prove how difficult it is! I am in awe of Suzanne Collins’ world.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling: Not a dystopian novel, but as a true HP fan I couldn’t leave out a book by JK Rowling, and this one, featuring Snape, the most misunderstood character of the series, is my favourite. And actually, all the HP books have a lot in common with the stories I like to write: huge amounts of danger, a ‘world’ created entirely by the author, and, at its heart, a group of friends prepared to fight to support one another and save their world from evil. I only hope my attention to detail is half as good as JK’s!
Which character in your novels do you most relate to and why?
Quin is my main character, and the character I most want to be like. She is quietly heroic. Someone once told me there were three types of people: those who would jump immediately into a burning building to save a friend, those who would rather just save themselves, and those who stopped for a moment and thought about the best, most practical method of saving their friend, before diving in. I think Quin is one of the latter. She cares a lot about the people around her, but usually considers things carefully before taking action. I think that makes her realistic, and hope that I am a little like her.
Tell us about your latest book, Break. Where did your initial idea come from and why did you choose to write this book?
Break is the second in the Flow series. I got the idea from watching endless reports on the news about the flooding that seems to have become more common (or at least is more publicised) in recent years. I just imagined what might happen if the flooding never stopped, if the sea levels continued to rise, and human beings were left with only the very highest points on earth to live on. I wrote the book because I have always wanted to create a dystopian world of my own, and the flooded nightmares I kept seeing on the news seemed like the perfect place to start. The action of the plot takes place in a future world which has been devastated by flooding, and those people left are struggling for survival. My main character Quin lives in a community called The Beck which is ruled over harshly by those in charge. In Flow, Quin discovered terrible things (no spoilers!) about The Beck which are kept secret from most citizens. In Break, she has joined the Resistance, and is prepared to risk everything to protect the ones she loves from The Beck leaders.
Clare's latest book, Break is now available on Amazon
Break (The Flow Series Book 2)
It’s been three months since Quin transferred to Patrol and discovered the terrifying truth. Now she must decide how far she is prepared to go to rescue the ones she loves. Break is the second in the Flow series, which follows Quin as she struggles to carve out a future in the harsh regime she was born into.
Get your ebook or paperback copy of Break today!
And don’t forget to check out Book 1 in the series, Flow…
Flow (The Flow Series Book 1)
A world in tatters. A society where rebellion is not tolerated. A girl desperate to discover the truth.
Sixteen year old Quin lives in The Beck, a saviour society. Her community has risen from the ruins of a land shattered by Mother Nature. But Beck law is tough. Quin knows that the rules must be followed in order to sustain life in a place where floodwaters constantly threaten existence. A single violation could land her in Clearance.
But some laws are harder to follow than others. And as Quin discovers the horrifying truth, she knows she cannot stay silent forever.
Flow is available on Amazon for just 99c / 99p (or you can get it for free if you sign up to Clare’s mailing list!).