Welcome to the first of our Author Interviews!
Our first author under the spotlight is
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am someone who has always wanted to write from early childhood. I had imaginary friends from a very young age and started writing little stories as soon as I would put words on paper. I trained as a journalist but stumbled into TV and then stumbled out again to try to make it as a writer. After over 20 years living away in London and then Bath I moved home to County Antrim, near Belfast in Northern Ireland and am enjoying the craic once more.
If you had to do it all again, would you change anything about your latest work?
Yes! We had originally had 9 authors on this and I worked very hard, first to get the story into some sort of half decent shape as we had originally written it online. I found us a suitable publisher, then liaised with all the authors to get their agreement, did several more drafts of editing and proofing and kept everyone up to date with developments. At the 11th hour when we were ‘home and dry’ (almost) we had a fall out which was too severe to fix. I regret that I didn’t manage to keep the whole team together right till the end.
What was the very first book idea you had, did you write it and did it get published?
No easy answer. The first book idea I had was for Meeting Damian Lewis - a romantic comedy about a woman (Ruby) whose life had hit a bad patch. She wanted to meet the actor Damian Lewis because she believed that somehow her fate was to meet him. She goes off, learns to write and writes a book in order to attract his attention. Does she meet him? That would be telling and does she find love --- you’d have to find out for yourself.! But it funny, sweet and sad and I loved my main character of Ruby Reed. I also like that Damian Lewis loves the story.
I did get an agent on my 2027th attempt (felt like!) and she tried to get a bidding war going on the story but fate played a few bad cards and I got impatient and tried to self publish. I used the wrong publisher and despite my best efforts the book went out not at all as I wanted, typos and mistakes. It broke my heart to have to finally have the book deleted in its current form. The time has now past and the story is dated. I am no longer the writer I was and it has been trapped in time so it was and is the one that got away. The best seller that never happened.
How long does it take you to typically write a novel?
Possibly too quick! I would say that when I am fired up I write with massive discipline and due to my years of writing under pressure to deadlines in journalism and in television I can write very fast indeed. Meeting Damian Lewis, first draft was written in about eight weeks which is embarrassingly fast but I believe that first drafts should just flow out of you and that is what it did. I redrafted it many many times although the story and structure never changed, just tidying up and acting on feedback from readers and agents. I am a very fast writer and I think that is both good and bad.
What is the most challenging aspect of writing for you, if any?
I think now that I know that it is hard for writers to sell novels it does inhibit me a lot. If I had known how hard the writing process is AFTER finishing the novel - finding an agent and a publisher and dealing with all the disappointment around that - I would probably not have done it. Writing Meeting Damian Lewis when I was so driven was the most happy experience of my life but all that followed was the most disappointing. You have to deal with heartbreak as an author and a great deal of knocks. You have to love your own work because chances are that you may be the only one who loves the way you write and your story. That is why writers love praise and feedback so much!
If asked to review a novel and you didn’t like it at all , would you?
Yes, I would and I do all the time. I always review what I have read on Amazon and I often don’t like the books as much as I might have done. Being an author myself I usually find a way to say something positive because there very often is even if you hated the story - with a very few exceptions. I’d would hate to upset an author with a bad review. If I really couldn’t find anything nice to say I would have to decline but normally there is something. I am used to working in television where we rarely get to work on television programmes we like so normally you work to the strengths and weaknesses of what is there.
Do I have any advice for the newbie author starting out?
Yes! Write every day. I often hear people saying ‘I would write but I don‘t have the time‘. They make it sound as if authors only write because they have time on their hands. If you want to write - you will but like any skill the more you do it the better you will get. So write something every day and try to set yourself a target of 1,000 words. Or whatever you think you could stick to and just get on with it. Thinking about writing a novel is very different to actually writing it. Don’t be put off by the size of the task and prepare to work hard once the story is complete. Also read a lot and see whose styles you like. Oh and don’t read any of those ‘How to write a book,’ books
Also don’t discuss your idea with anyone. Not because they may steal it but because once you tell the story to another person, it is sort of told and you will find it less easy to put the ideas to paper as it will feel a bit ‘done’. Don’t discuss what is in your head - keep it for the paper. A good example is the anecdote you have told a dozen times. I bet it doesn’t sound as fresh as it did the first time you told it? Well that is what discussing the novel will be like when you go to write it. Also you run the risk of your friends not reacting as you would like to what you are writing s and that can be very off putting as it might just make you abandon or change a good idea.
Tell us the worst book you have read in the last few months and why didn’t you enjoy it?
As I say I can usually find something positive in a book even if it is not my cup of tea but I really hated The Slap so much. I disliked the imagery of the first chapter and the characters and I hated the way that all the characters seem exactly the same. I hated their values, the dialogue and found it depressing and rather pointless. After about half the book I took great pleasure in throwing it in the bin where it belongs. I also hate 50 Shades of Grey. It annoys me that a badly written book has become such a big seller.
What was the best book you read in the last few months and why did you love it?
I loved Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. It is a very clever book and really takes you into the period of Tudor England. Her style is totally unique and is the only time I felt as if I had been taken in a time machine back to the period. She has devised a new way of writing, I believe.
Are you a pre planning plotter or a go with flow writer?
I am not sure! I did have a plan when I wrote Meeting Damian Lewis. I knew that I was going from point A to point Z and I had a fair idea how it would work out but my synopsis is about 1,000 words and the novel is about 70,000 so I think we can safely say I went with the flow a bit and grabbed opportunities as they arose.
With Clawless a group of us wrote it so I wanted to go with the flow but it would be impossible with so many writers so we did a bit of both.
Are you working on anything right now? If so can you share the details with us?
Yes! I am trying to get ‘Divine’ together. A soap opurra starring our cats set on Rainbow Bridge and featuring many of our cats who are no longer with us. I like the challenge of writing when literally anything can happen. We could make our own rules and the imagination knows no boundaries. We are slightly stalled right now but watch this space as we will get going again soon!
I also have another idea to write about my long fought for driving licence so I can pass on advice over the whole experience. I found very few helpful books on the subject and what is around tends to be either patronising or for teenagers.
I also have a third Kimmy book written and just needing editing.
I would also like to put some TV ideas together and I want to dust off Meeting Damian Lewis again.
How do you come up with titles for your novels, do you get the idea for the story first or does that come to you after the title?
Again having worked in television I am .used to the titles of the programmes more or less telling you the content and I think books should do the same. I think that if you get a good idea the title goes hand in hand and then a good title helps you write the book as you get a strong idea of what it is you are writing. It gives it identity even before you have managed that. But it is also no big deal to change the title if somehow the emphasis shifts and it becomes something else. I wouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I might by its title. I think titles are important.
Have any authors influenced your writing style or your chosen genre?
No. That is the simple answer but if you read Meeting Damian Lewis closely you may spot that I was watching a lot of ‘Friends’ at the time and there are a few bits that stray into that territory …! I was also lucky to do an Arvon writing course where I had both Jimmy McGovern (TV playwright extraordinaire) He said he ‘loved the way I wrote and wished he had written ‘as well’ as me when he first started. I think Jimmy’s writing style is as far away from mine as it comes for content but what we do share is a real love for it and we both love writing and admit it which isn’t being big headed - it is appreciating our own hard work! (and likewise I can also despair of my own work when it is not coming together).
What’s the worst job you ever had?
There is no such thing as a bad job! They are all fodder for writing and there is generally something good about the job even if you have to dig deep to find it! But I have had some television jobs that I haven‘t enjoyed. I will not reveal here what they were! I might if you ask me again.
If you could choose any author to mentor you, who would it be and why?
I think it would be Jimmy McGovern because although his style and his settings are very different to mine and he writes gritty Northern dramas that have a real punch and I tend to write lighter stuff - I really admire his way of twisting a story and how he shapes his central characters so even if they are ‘baddies’ you can still relate to them in some way. His passion for writing is his greatest asset and I think that he would inspire me on a daily basis to be the very best I can be.
I also love Charles Dickens as the man is a genius. Can’t imagine him mentoring me though! I have too many favourite authors to mention. I love so many different genres including, detective/crime/thriller, historical fiction and non fiction and contemporary fiction.
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Here's a little more information about Christine and Clawless
Christine Wilson’s Blog
Book blurb Cats in fashion written by cats, for cats!-
You‘ll never be able to take fashion seriously again.
The story begins on a dark and stormy night as the last will and testament of Wee Jock MacTartan is read aloud to his grieving family. His two sons, Clawde and Arfur and their respective wives, the feisty (and slightly over acting), Clawdette and the tiny, kitten-less Furnella. Clawde and Clawdette have one daughter an unlikely Burmese called Purrdita.
Their main rival is Solange the wicked stepmother who married Wee Jock just days before his final demise to ‘Rainbow Bridge’ and she has plans to take as much as she can and leave the House of Le Claw destitute. Her attempts are aided and at times, hilariously hampered by a lawyer with a serious catnip habit, Furry Faceon who has embezzled a large amount of the Le Claw cash and is keen to hide the fact from all of them.
Also, if they haven’t got enough to worry about, up pops the evil and sinister Monsieur Le Fluffy. His dastardly intentions are to strike the company while it is vulnerable, with the sole purpose of taking it over completely leaving the Le Claws out in the cold.
Clawdette visits Solange to confront her about her evil conniving ways but instead steals the designs which Monsieur Le Fluffy has sent to Solange in advance of the next seasons fashion shows, but is this a double bluff or indeed a triple bluff and will Clawdette be able to remember who knows what by the end of it all?
Furnella hides a ‘dark secret’ which she has managed to keep well hidden until a tiny little ginger kitten appears at the front door - seemingly abandoned - and she nearly reveals what it is that troubles her so deeply. Clawdette calls in the pest control but they take her to the pound instead of the kitten and she gets into some very bad company before finally being rescued.
Then, much to Clawdette’s despair, she manages to get catnapped and is embarrassed to find that she was held in just another part of the mansion … something the police don’t seem very sympathetic about.
Meanwhile, Clawde and Arfur discover they have a secret brother who is in fact a ‘catpire’ who lives in a castle in Catsylvania. The entire family suddenly decamp ‘over hill and dale, across ocean and stream, river and rill, and deep into Catsylvania, over the forest, over the torch lit village, above the howling of the wolves and the neighing of the horses’ where the story takes on a slightly surreal quality as the Le Claws battle to stay ahead of the game … and just why do the villagers always carry torches and garlic when they come near the castle? Also what happens when Clawdette takes Clyde to Transylvania’s IKEA and why do they the end up being featured on Furry Springer as ‘I accidentally married my own brother!’
Featuring, Clawde, Clawdette, Tomcat Ford, Furnella, Arfur, Clyde, Solange, Cat Moss, Furry Quant, Anna Winpurr and others …
After wasting years fighting her way up through the television food chain and to the dizzy height of Producer, Christine decided it wasn’t worth it, jacked it in left London, moved to Northern Ireland via Bath and took up writing books. Her novels include The Circle, Meeting Damian Lewis, (using pen name) and she found success writing cat books - The Kimmy Diaries, Kimmy’s Irish Diary and Clawless, co-written. She is now a devoted ‘Mum’ to two cats, cares for an elderly mother and runs a busy house but is always working on the ‘next idea’.
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So there you have it, our first ever interview. We do hope that you've enjoyed it and we'll be back soon with another author spotlight!
Until then... Keep Calm and Clawless!