What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Claire Gillian (a pen name), born in Dover, Delaware into a nomadic military family, now living in Vancouver, WA with my own family.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I did not always want to be a writer; that was a pipe dream and is still more of a hobby than a means of earning a living. Sadly very few people reach the James Patterson / Nora Roberts heights. I'd love to join them, but in the meantime, I'm hanging on to my day job as a business executive. I have always wanted to go into business (accounting specifically) or computer programming. As a CFO / COO, I do both.
When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
I first affixed that label probably after finishing my first novel. I had no idea until that time that I had the attention span to write something so long. To my joy and amazement, it wasn't as difficult staying focused on a larger story as I'd always believed it to be. That said, I'm still quite a big fan of the short story and have written hundreds of those from drabbles to near novelette length such as The Sweetest Song.
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
Now days, with the rise of e-books, indie publishers and most critically, low cost self-publishing with Amazon, Smashwords, etc, being "published" carries a lesser meaning, unfortunately. To some, I'm not yet "published" because I didn't acquire a literary agent who then shopped my book with the big boys. I tried that route briefly and still have hopes of succeeding one day with the right story. In the meantime, I am more than thrilled to find indie publishers like J Taylor Publishing who are willing to take chances on new talent and work with them to polish their work into salable reading material both the author and publisher can be proud of.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
Yes, I am a certified public accountant, or CPA, but I don't practice public accountancy. Instead, I put my finance and accounting skills as well as my self-taught computer programming skills to work as a chief financial and operations professional for a subsidiary of a very large insurance company.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My latest book as Claire Gillian is my debut novel, The P.U.R.E. Twenty words? Wow. OK, here goes. "A new hire discovers her employer harbours criminals and, with a co-worker and love interest, fights to expose them." Tada! Nineteen words if I counted correctly.
Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
J Taylor Publishing is the publisher of my debut novel under the pen name Claire Gillian. I have also published short stories in anthologies (such as Tidal Whispers) and e-zines. I will make my debut under a different pen name and genre in May with another publisher. I haven't yet self-published but am seriously considering it for shorter works such as novellas or works that don't really fit my normal writing style and publishing venues.
Do you have a "lucky charm" or "lucky routine" you follow when waiting for your book to be accepted by a publisher?
I have a Magic Eight Ball I like to consult but it's such a naysayer, sometimes I want to chuck it out the window. LOL It hasn't really been all that lucky to be honest. I also have this small gargoyle I purchased from a little souvenir shop in the shadows of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. Come to think of it, my fortunes have improved since acquiring Gogol (his name).
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
That really depends on how motivated I am. A first draft can take anywhere from three weeks (during National Novel Writing Month) to six months. Revising and editing can more than triple that amount of time as my first drafts tend to meander through a plot maze. They are also quite corpulent from too many extra "trash" words. This is why I have several novels and novellas in process. They need to simmer between drafts and like a fine wine, age a little before I can even consider shopping them.
Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
The easiest book to write was a young adult book I'm currently polishing. I used Write or Die often and cranked that baby out. Plus I really felt engaged while writing it. I used to think first person present tense writing was something I'd never do, but now I find that style flows most naturally for me. Harder for me to write is third person past tense, though that's the preferred presentation by most readers and most publishers of romance. I am STILL working on my first draft of my 2010 NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month) novel. I believe 100% in the latter, but that one has been stewing in my head for three decades and I want to do it justice so it's moving at a snail's pace.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
Probably books of many different genres. Tidal Whispers is paranormal romance. My debut novel, The P.U.R.E. was a romantic mystery (though it's tagged with the more common "romantic suspense"). My young adult novel (different pen name) is contemporary. I also write erotica and erotic romance under a third pen name and she had her debut in May. As Claire, I have a superhero novella (para-rom) out on submission. I also have an urban fantasy novel almost ready to start submitting. The latter is part of a larger planned series. Other works in progress include a young adult dystopian and a young adult steampunk mystery series. As Claire, there's that thirty year old story in want of a "the end" as well. That one is 100% suspense/thriller. I'm very eclectic in what I write and read but there are usually elements of romance and mystery.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Yes, I read them all because I'm a new author and I need the feedback to understand what works and what doesn't. Not everyone will like a book though; that is a given. Not every review will give me feedback I can use. The 1 star reviews with no text other than "boo-shelving" ("why-did-I-read-this-crap", "horrible") at Goodreads, I don't find very helpful, though I certainly don't begrudge anyone his or her opinion or the manner in which they choose to express it. Not everyone is tactful, but that's part of the job I knowingly signed up for. I don't comment on reviews, however, other than to click "Like" on Goodreads, unless it's a 1 or 2 star in which case I like that they took the time to read and review, but I don't like that they didn't enjoy it. I'm only human, after all. Those two cancel each other out and I glean whatever constructive bits I can and move on. Ditto with marking Amazon and B&N reviews "helpful".
What was the toughest/best review you have ever had?
The toughest but best review hasn't actually been a review but a beta reader's review comments on my first novel that now lines my writer's trunk. She didn't mince any words, likening my novel to a bad Mills & Boon (which I happen to love, but each to his own) and wanting to burn my manuscript in one section and few chapters later expressing her desire to stomp and jump on said ashes. Her sarcastic comments were both funny and devastating BUT they told me what I needed to know. Her points were well taken, and made me realize my first attempt was far too flawed to even attempt to salvage.
Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
Absolutely not, unless they attributed my book to the wrong author or attributed someone else's book to me. Reviewers are writers too, but I would never presume to critique their words, and certainly not their opinions, because who am I, or anyone else for that matter, to tell them their opinion is wrong? Even unfavourable feedback is valuable, once you nurse your wounds and re-read from a dispassionate place.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
With one exception, I always write the book then choose the title. I don't always know where my story will meander or what themes will emerge as the dominant ones. Often during the course of writing, my original vision changes. I feel it's best to label the finished product rather than force the story to fit a pre-selected name.
Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
I think I read a lot back then because I have many memories of losing myself in a good book and always having one in my backpack. However, I've run across many teenaged (and younger) book bloggers who read amazing volumes of books AND review them in a very adult and intelligent fashion. I am in awe of these young adults. I'm sure I read nowhere near what they read. I was not a writer though, other than the odd poem and any pieces required for English class.
Did you have a favourite author as a child?
Though "she" wasn't a single author but many who wrote under a single pen name, I devoured Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew books as a child. I read them all, anxiously awaited the next one, and scoured my church's library for the older ones that didn't even have pictures on the covers back then, just a silhouette of Nancy holding a magnifying glass.
Do you have a favourite genre of book?
I always enjoy a good romance, whether it be neatly woven within a thriller, mystery or a taut urban fantasy or if it's an unapologetic romance (historical, paranormal, gothic, contemporary). I like romances of all heat levels so I do enjoy YA books that have chaste or sweet romances, including the ubiquitous triangles a la Twilight and Hunger Games. At the other end of the heat spectrum, I enjoy erotic romances too. A good mystery, cosy or otherwise, will tempt me though I don't like to read them one after the other. I enjoy humour and will often nab a chick lit type book or gravitate toward authors with a flare for witty dialogue and situations like Jenny Crusie, Jill Myles, and Sophie Kinsella.
Are there any New Authors you are interested in for us to watch out for? and Why should we watch out for them?
All my fellow JTP authors are, of course, amazing--Jocelyn Adams, Julie Reece, Kelly Said, Aimee Laine / Emi Gayle, J.A. Belfield, with J.C. Martin and L.S. Murphy warming up on the sidelines for their upcoming releases.
I've also been keeping tabs on Stephanie Lawton lately. She has a book coming out from Inkspell Publishing soon called Want. I've read a few of her snippets on Six Sentence Sundays and one of her free short stories and have been very impressed. The author who led me to Stephanie was Rebecca Hart, an immensely talented writer herself and a "Pen sister" (a nod here to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pens). Another author who has already launched her writing career but is still in the early stages is Diane Dooley. She leans toward science fiction and horror but she writes romance too and has novellas / novelettes with Carina Press and Decadent Publishing. Not yet published in long form, but an immensely talented horror writer who never fails to impress is Dale Long.
Do you or would you ever use a pen name?I write under three different pen names, never my real name, though I've not gone out of my way to keep my real name a secret mostly because someone really wanting to know could easily find out. I just prefer not to have my real name all over the internet. Different pen names are used for different heat levels and/or audience age groups. I write mainstream fiction and non-fiction. I have another that writes erotic romance for ages eighteen and older, and the third writes for young adults.
Where can readers follow you?
Website/Blog Goodreads Twitter Facebook
My debut novel, The P.U.R.E. Now Available at: Amazon B&N.com