It’s author interview day again! One of the benefits of this series is that I’ve gotten to know some really interesting authors. I hope everyone is enjoying getting to know a different author each week. Would you enjoy it if I keep it up into 2020? Please let me know in the comments. Thanks!
This week’s guest author is a kind person I’ve met a few times although I haven’t had much opportunity to speak with her. Please help me welcome Claire Naden, author of romantic suspense and women’s fiction. Let’s peek at her official bio and then we’ll dive right into the interview.
Claire Naden resides in Southern California. Born and raised in the Pasadena area, she enjoyed a career as a paralegal before turning her attention to writing full-time. Currently, her writing focuses on romantic suspense and historical fiction with an emphasis on World War II, but her interests also include historical events in Asia and the Middle East. Her first published novel, Cache Under the Stacks, A Cate Wagner Mystery, was published in June 2018. Her second novel, a woman’s fiction, Starting Over, is about to be published this fall. In addition to writing, Ms. Naden is an avid reader, enjoys going to independent and foreign language films. Claire and her husband David, reside in Pasadena and enjoy caring for two spoiled dogs, Mandy and Minnie. She has a bachelor’s degree in English, and master’s degrees in history and library and information science. You can find out more about her at https://clairenaden.wordpress.com/, and follow her on Amazon, Facebook, or Twitter.
Betty: How many books have you written and published?
Claire: So far one but my second with the galley proofs arrived this past week so I would expect it to be in the print stage very soon.
Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?
Claire: My first book, a romantic suspense happened quite by accident as a result of a mystery writing class I took. We were to write of an experience that we had which was terrifying, scary, etc. I chose to write about a phone call that I received in the middle of the night when I was single and living alone in an unsecure apartment building. However, the primary similarity is the phone call and my marital status. From there the book is fiction.
Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?
Claire: The protagonist in my current work is looking to start her life over after several failed relationships. At midlife she knows she is taking a huge step but desires to make this change in her life – selling her present home and moving to Kauai to run bed and breakfast. You could say it has been a dream of mine to do just that.
A headstrong, ambitious forty-something woman inherited more than a thriving bookstore in her aunt’s will. Bungalow Books came with a cache of valuable artifacts, threats, and maybe love. Cate Wagner, a divorced empty-nester sees a chance to make a new start when she inherits a thriving bookstore from her late great aunt until a phone call in the middle of the night wakes Cate Wagner from an Ambien induced slumber and changes her life. The call is the first in a series of threats and incidents against her and Bungalow Books. Detective Ian West arrives to investigate and falls in love with the independent and often frustrating Cate. An encounter with a former love of Cate’s complicates their new relationship but leads her to clues about the threats. Is it what lies hidden under the stacks of Bungalow Books or is it simply a distraction that will deter Cate from finding the cache of valuable artifacts with historical implications?
Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?
Claire: I like to write and revise in my office which I converted from a second room. It opened onto the living room and I had a wall added and door with a lock and it has afforded me privacy. Since we live in a condominium, it is often difficult to write at home because when my husband who has a part-time job is home it is a bit distracting. But I must admit to enjoying a day at a local coffee or tea shop where I can write by myself. I have been wanting to start up a writing group but here it is a tough go, but I will not give up.
Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?
Claire: I drink coffee and tea in the afternoons. I listen to symphonic soundtracks while I write. I try to write in the late morning into the afternoon. When I was still working, my writing time was very limited, but now that I’m not working I can write whenever I can “get my butt in the chair.” Now I do other things during those hours such as research and character development.
Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?
Claire: After writing my first book, I didn’t want it to just sit in a drawer. I wanted to get it out there. I tried pitching and querying without much success. I have a good friend who is published, and she encouraged me and introduced me to her publisher, Archway. Also, while attending various writing conferences I developed a strong desire to become one of the pack.
Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?
Claire: What a great question for me. I have to say that I am tenacious and to my detriment a perfectionist! I never lack for story ideas and will find myself with too many stories I want to write about.
Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?
Claire: I like to develop my characters and place them in a situation. I usually do these two things almost simultaneously. The situation evolves from my primary character.
Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is it more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?
Claire: Fortunately, I have a lot of flexibility when scheduling my writing. I was forced into an early retirement and my husband encouraged me to take the leap and write full time since I had been wanting to do that. I had been what some call a professional student: bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies following by one in English; a master’s in history followed by one in library and information science. In 2010 after completing my 2nd masters I started taking online writing courses which led me to writing full time.
Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?
Claire: My recent struggle has been comparing myself to other writers and their success. I step back and tell myself – “they have been writing longer and have published more books than myself.” I also marvel at authors that manage to publish more than one book a year. I try to figure out how they do that but so far, no magic bullet I have found. I question, why I can’t pump those books out like they can.
Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?
Claire: I have started NaNoWriMo a couple of times but drop by the wayside. I have found myself doing other things i.e. developing a character, story, revising, self-editing etc. It doesn’t seem to fit my personality although I must say being held accountable for the number of words written in a given day is a great impetus.
Betty: What are you reading right now?
Claire: I just finished Grace in the Wings by Kari Bovee. I usually am reading more than one book and have started Tessa Arlen’s Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders (A Woman of WWII Mystery) and The Munich Girl by Phyliss Ring.
Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?
Claire: Historical fiction set in the 1930s and during WWII. I also like to read mysteries.
Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?
Claire: All of the books that I have read about the 1930s and WWII? Unfortunately, I don’t reread them as there is always something new out that I want to read.
Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?
Claire: I read in the same genre as my work in progress because I like to immerse myself in that time period along with other writers.
Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?
Claire: I am thankful I can write full time.
Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?
Claire: This is a good question. I knew very little about the publishing industry with respect to fiction. My aunt has had a publishing business for many years but her focus has been on non-fiction so I didn’t get much help from her. I have learned a lot on my own and one thing that sticks with me is that it is much harder than I thought. There is so much competition and one should never take for granted that it is easy to break into the publishing industry. I tried for a while and decided that if I wanted to publish my work that I needed to be flexible. There are many options out there besides traditional publishing. Not to be discounted are self-publishing and hybrid publishing – they both deserve more respect.
Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?
Claire: Most would say to write every day which is a good mantra, but it comes down to one thing: don’t give up – keep pushing forward and know you can do it.
Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?
Claire: I have ideas for two WWII novels which I have been working on for a couple of years, but the research is daunting at times and I get pulled into writing contemporary. I often find falling down the rabbit hole when it comes to research which I love doing and have an idea for a book that takes place in my hometown of Pasadena, CA – turn of the last century!
Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?
Claire: I want to write more in the historical genre especially the Victorian period.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Claire! I hope everyone enjoyed getting to know this interesting author along with me.
Are you all starting to think about the upcoming holidays? Have you considered giving the gift of reading, of good books? Reading is so important not only for its educational benefits but also for the enjoyment of visiting other places, other worlds, other ways of life.
Thanks to all of you for reading my blog as well as my books. I deeply appreciate your time and support.
Happy Fall! And happy reading!
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