A Spinner of Tales
The Writer's Prompt Author Interviews 2022
Will this winter never end? I’ve lost count on how many false Springs we’ve had here in southern Ontario this year. I don’t know about you, but I am sorely in need of a change of scenery. A sunny - sand between my toes - calm waves splashing type scenery. If you are like me and can’t wait for summer to start, let’s pretend we just stepped off a plane in sunny California, and this week’s author is there to greet us. Let’s meet her, and learn more about how she processes creativity.
Claire Davon has written on and off for most of her life, starting with fan fiction when she was very young. She writes across a wide range of genres and does not consider any of them off-limits. Her novels can be found in the paranormal romance and contemporary romance sections, while her short stories run the gamut. If a story calls to her, she will write it. She currently lives in Los Angeles and spends her free time writing novels and short stories, as well as doing animal rescue and enjoying the sunshine.
Thank you, Claire, for joining me on this wild adventure around the world. I am looking forward to sharing your story with my readers. Let’s begin with the interview, shall we.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I think I’ve always been a writer. My first clear memory of when I understood how much I enjoyed spinning tales was in junior high when a few friends and I wrote stories together. This continued through high school and college – a group of us would come up with characters, either movie/TV personalities or our own characters. Each of us would write our characters, with all of them interacting according to our unique points of view.
I love that you and your friends wrote stories together; that’s so cool. How long have you been writing professionally?
The corollary to the above is that while I’ve been writing since I was a pre-teen, I also had several years as an adult where I stopped writing. I let fear and some (perceived) failures stop me, got discouraged and pushed writing aside. About nine years ago, I broke the paralysis and returned to what I love most – spinning tales!
I understand being discouraged and allowing failures to stall creativity. I am glad to see you overcame that.
What type of writer are you? For example, do you plan out your storyline and have a bio for each character, or do you let the creativity flow and see where it leads you?
I am the very definition of a pantser. Often, I have no idea where the story will take me next, or I have the beginning (and whatever I’d written to that point) and an ending, but the middle is a giant mush that I fill in as I go. It usually means that my first drafts are riddled with repetitive words, but the story is there. That’s what has worked for me since I returned to what I love almost a decade ago.
I wrote the Whipple Chronicles the same way. I had a beginning and ending, and three novels later, I had the middle. Do you follow a strict writing schedule, or do you sneak writing in when you have time?
The only time I can guarantee that I can write is in the morning, so I have a fairly strict schedule. I get up early (some might say insanely so) and write/edit/etc. until it is time for me to get ready for my day job. I have a set minimum word count of a thousand words a day and then usually have editing that needs doing, or other marketing/social media tasks. I am the definition of a morning person and often am useless at night (creatively) after I get off of work. So, my writing schedule is approximately 2-3 hours every morning before work, and the same amount on the weekends, only adjusted for “sleeping in” (if six AM or so can be considered such).
I wish I were more strict with my writing schedule; I might actually finish one of my WIP. What is your writing style? For example, are you a meat and potatoes leave it to the readers' imagination kind of writer, or are you a heavy with description, dialogue, and lots of extra gravy writer?
I believe I fall in between both of these extremes. I like some descriptions, but don’t want to go overboard. Since it’s romance, we are writing I like to include the tactile details, but too much explanation bogs my stories down. Therefore, yes and no to the question.
(Insert chuckle here) That’s fair; I will take that answer. Since becoming a writer, have you acquired any unusual peculiarities? For example, do you find yourself studying people more and critiquing their habits or editing their speech?
Well, I do edit the English in songs sometimes! However, I keep that to myself. I don’t critique people’s habits so much as I find that when I notice something interesting, I try to keep a record of that thing in case it might be good in a story. Vocal tics, catchphrases, or interesting tidbits get recorded for future use. Same with unique backstories or snippets/factoids that will add color to a story. Nothing is safe!
I am fascinated with people’s names. Upon meeting someone with a unique name, I often say, “Wow! Your name would be a great name for a character.” Typically, I get a strange look, then explain that I am a writer. Afterwards, I sometimes still get a strange look. Through the interviews, I am learning that most writers are that way, always banking snippets of inspiration. Do you have a purse or pocket full of napkins with ideas written on them?
There’s a reason I have small notebooks in my purse. I also utilize the “note” app on my phone quite heavily. If you saw my handwriting, you would understand why the note app is a much better way to go!
With that being said, I have dozens of pieces of paper in the drawer next to my keyboard with various ideas on them. Lightning can strike anywhere, and sometimes I have to grab what is nearest just to get the idea out (and hope I can read my writing later).
There’s a note app? I will have to check it out because my penmanship is sloppy at best. So then, how many new, unused writing journals do you currently own? Did you buy them for future projects or because they look pretty, or because you can’t remember where the other ones are?
I do buy journals, but I always use them. Usually for work, though, I don’t often use them for writing. When my friends and I were writing together, I had dozens of notebooks for the stories, but now it’s either the phone app/scraps of paper or story ideas in folders on my computer.
When I first started writing, I had notes everywhere and written on anything I could get my hands on. I don’t think I have a scrap of paper anywhere that has an idea now. Strange. What scenes do you have the most fun writing? For example, fight scenes, heavy dialogue scenes, or scenes where your character ponders life's meaning.
My favourite isn’t one type of scene, but that scene where the thing that has been eluding me pops into view. That is to say, if I have written out of sequence, as I often do, and I haven’t figured out how to get where I need to be, and then that idea swims into my brain, I take great delight in writing that scene.
That is the same way for me when I am designing a new mixed media character and struggling with how to fit it all together. When I finally figure it out, the rush I feel is unexplainable. Are you a single project writer, or do you have several projects on the go?
I always have more than one thing going on. Right now, I have half a dozen short stories and novels/novellas I am working on. If I’m not sure what I want to work on next, or I’m not on a deadline, sometimes I will bounce from one story to another until I hit critical mass and have to finish one of them. The words add up fast with a minimum thousand words a day, so this way, I’m never stuck for the next thing to write. (I checked, and I have two novels, a novella and four short stories that I’m actively working on. That doesn’t count the two novels/novellas I am also editing).
I would constantly be dizzy if I had that many projects on the go. I am more a one project at a time creator, whether it is writing or making art. What have you learned about yourself from being a writer in regards to your strengths and weaknesses?
My first drafts almost always lack a true black moment. I have trouble with those dire black moments as a reader and pull my punches as a writer. It’s one of the things I usually strengthen in the second draft. I also never mind using my crutch words…over and over again. Hello, “appear.” I see you, “moment.” But I let those happen in the first draft, knowing I will clean the duplicated/filter/crutch words up and out before the MS ever sees the light of day.
That is a healthy way to think about the first draft. I think new writers become discouraged when they read over their initial draft, not realizing that the first telling of the story is often riddled with mistakes and holes. Are you strictly a writer, or do you have other creative outlets? For example, do you enjoy participating in Paint Nights or know how to strum a guitar, or can you knit a sweater?
I love music and am a pretty decent singer. I have aspirations to learn guitar but haven’t focused on that. Writing is always taking my time. Maybe when I retire…
From the time I was young, I wanted to learn how to play the piano, but haven't gotten around to it? Maybe we can take lessons together when we retire. (insert cheeky wink here)
Have there been any exciting changes in your life due to being a published author? For example, do strangers ask for your autograph, do you have a movie deal in the works, or can you now live solely off your writing income?
I’m still building my reputation/brand, so I have an exciting road ahead of me. For the moment (see what I did there?) I have a day job that pays my bills and allows me the freedom to pursue this path without stressing about the future. I used to say that I was not sure I’d want to be a full-time writer since I would likely revert to a hermit, but…2020…Covid…and here I am in my house 98% of the time anyway! Never say never!
Right! Other than the TWP Author Interviews, I haven’t really written anything in the last couple of years. I have created a lot of artwork though and designed a board game with my grandkids. So, I was still busy being creative, just with a different art form.
Let's move on to the meat and potatoes of the interview. What publishing route do you prefer, self-publication, traditional or hybrid, and why?
Because of my predilection for multiple genres, I prefer being a hybrid author. My short stories often have nothing to do with romance, and being hybrid allows me to shop that particular horror story or SF drabble wherever I want. Some of what I write I choose to self-pub, and other stuff I aim toward certain markets/publishers. One of the things that are fantastic about the era we live in is that we have that freedom. Gone are the days when a handful of people had a stranglehold on the marketplace. I enjoy that and take advantage of it.
I agree wholeheartedly about the marketplace opening to include self-publication. How often have we heard tales of famous writers' struggles with “Traditional Publishing Houses.” I self-publish because I would have been crushed if a “professional” told me my work was crap. It’s hard enough hearing that from family and other authors, than from someone who is supposed to know what they are talking about.
Sorry about that readers, it's a touchy subject for me, but it does lead nicely into my next question. Claire, now that you are a published writer, what sage advice do you have for budding authors looking to publish their first book?
When I first went back to writing, I read a few pieces of good advice/wise counsel. The biggest one was to write. Make writing a habit, no matter what. Build it into your day, and don’t deviate from it. I am not always inspired and sometimes feel that the words I lay down for the day are garbage, but then I go back the next day/week/when the story is finished and am astonished at how good they actually are. Therefore, I write every day without fail.
The second bit of advice was harder for me to accept. It basically said that as I improve in my writing, I will look back in two years and recognize that the stories I wrote at the beginning should be discarded. Well…I’m not sure that’s true, but I grew exponentially as I layered new skills on top of the old ones and learned/unlearned my bad habits. I didn’t know what a comma splice or a filter word was when I started. (Still working on those comma splices…) Those early stories showed my lack of knowledge, and while I haven’t gone back to all of them and tidied them to today’s standards, I recognize that there was a lot of truth in those words. As we improve, what we thought was “perfect” at the beginning turns out to be flawed. That is part of the process. I look back and see where I started and where I am now, but every step along the way was part of my growth as a writer. As the adage goes: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Comma splice? I have no idea what that is. LOL. Excellent advice all around though; thank you for sharing it.
In 100 words or less, tell us what you have planned for your writing career for 2022. For example, are you releasing a new book/s and or attending author events.
I have many things in the works for 2022, including a new TWRP release, but the only solid event was an author event in San Diego in February.
Thank you, Claire, for the visit. I enjoyed learning more about you. And, the splash of sunshine was a welcoming respite from the dreary weather here in Ontario. I hope the event in February was a success and that there are more opportunities for you to showcase your work throughout the rest of the year—best of luck with your writing adventures.
To connect with Claire and purchase her books, please follow these links.
Newsletter signup: https://clairedavon.com/newsletter/
Amazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00IMP2KSU
Claire’s Reader Group (Claire’s Reader Muses): https://www.facebook.com/groups/388481941792498/
To read more Author Interviews please visit, https://www.sdferrell.com/writersprompt