C H Clepitt

‘It’s not easy being a badger…’

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In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

I had a dream… I know, everyone says that, but it’s true. I woke up one morning vividly remembering a scene from a story. I can’t remember what it was now, but it was so vivid at the time that I started writing A Reason to Stay, and that was it!

Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?

Throughout school we only studied dead old white men, and I did not enjoy reading at all.  Being visually impaired it takes me much longer to read a book than the average person, and it felt like a waste of time to continue ploughing through things I couldn’t enjoy or relate to.  Then, at university, we studied women writers. Aphra Behn and Susannah Centlivre at undergraduate, and Virgina Woolf and Silvia Townsend Warner for post grad, and I started to be able to identify.  It made me want to create more art that people could identify with – to give the underrepresented a voice. I think that if we don’t write what we want to read, who will?

Tell me about your book.

Eeek! I have to pick one? OK, I’ll go with I Wore Heels to the Apocalypse.

What would you wear to the apocalypse? #IWoreHeels

Ever worn the wrong outfit? Well, Kerry takes this to epic proportions when she dresses up in a business suit and heels and the apocalypse happens!

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Maybe 3 that I’ll never finish, two that I’m working on at the moment. The working titles are The Smuggler’s Daughter and Crazy Dreams. These will both change, but I tend to get caught up in a title unless I pick one, so I need one so that I can move on to the writing process.  The Smuggler’s Daughter is a fantasy, and is the sequel to my fantasy, The Book of Abisan. Fans of the book have waited 5 years, so hopefully it will be worth the wait! Crazy Dreams is a Sci Fi, about a future where people have to indenture themselves to get healthcare… I may be making a point…

What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?

I don’t think you should ban books because of political reasons, rather like freedom of speech, they are freedom of expression and people’s views should never be censored.  However, as with freedom of speech, a line needs to be drawn, things that incite hatred should not be allowed into the public sphere.  I think a good number of tabloids should be banned for that reason! 😉

Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?

I guess we need to go with Kerry, as I mentioned Heels above. She’s a sort of hapless everywomen who we can all relate to as finding herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the least qualified member of her party.  She is not defeatist, however, and tries really hard to be useful.  I think that is the most endearing thing about her. The thing that makes her memorable, however, is her sarcastic badger spirit guide. Everyone loves the badger.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

Indie all the way. I like being in control of the entire process, although marketing is a nause. I did go hybrid for Heels, but I didn’t like it, so I took back control.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

I couldn’t agree more. Reading keeps your mind active, improves your imagination and vocabulary. Read the books, all the books. Start with mine…

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

The best aspect of being an author is getting to share your work with people who love it. It is such a high every time someone says they have enjoyed something I’ve written. The worst part is being alone with your own brain too long, you really do need to make sure you get out as often as possible.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

I’m a pantser. I tried plotting, the characters just don’t listen, so now I’ve stopped bothering.  I did plot my first book, back in the day, but the characters have more attitude these days. I admire anyone who can plan a plot and stick to it.  I have no idea how or when any of my stories are going to end!

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

I don’t think so. I do share my political views, but they are more sledgehammer than hidden, you should get it!

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

I play netball.  I love it.  I play defence, try getting passed me, I dare you… *hint, you can’t…* well, maybe you can, you’re a ninja…

What are you writing at the moment?

At the moment I’m writing this interview… Oh… you mean storywise? I am writing the third in my Lineage series of vampire shorts, spurred on by the brilliant job my voice artist has done on the first two.

What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

It can be true that they are not well edited.  Indie authors don’t have the budget to work with that publishers do. Editing is expensive, I should know, I work as an editor!! And unfortunately, some indie books are published before they are ready, and read badly with plot holes as well as typos. This means that for those of us who work really hard, go through stacks of beta readers and rewrites before letting our books see the light of day we get a bad wrap, which is unfair.  The only thing I can suggest is that you use the Amazon reviews and “look inside” function before you decide whether to splash your cash on a book. Amazon lets you read the first 20% free, and that is definitely enough to decide if you want to continue. And remember, there are typos in trad books too, just not so much dino porn…

What is your favourite genre to write, and why?

Impossible! I genre hop like a maniac! I just write what I feel, I’m never even sure what the genre is ’til I’m done! That said, I do enjoy humour and satire, it’s fun to write, and you can make some serious points without sounding preachy.

If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?

– Er… probably not… my worlds are quite dangerous, there are evil zombie robot armies, slavery and torture. It’s not pleasant, but it generally ends well…

If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?

Remember to market! That is a long hard learning curve.

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

No, I can’t listen to anything, it drowns out the voices. I need complete silence in order to brain.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I am always surprised by how much people enjoy reading them, that’s a great feeling.

Tell me three unique things about you.

  1. I am freakishly strong (like Panthro strong)
  2. I haven’t eaten meat since I was eight and
  3. I do a brilliant Cher impression… dunno if those things are unique.

Claire, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!