Thursday, 21 February 2013

Author Interview: Serena Clarke

I recently introduced you to  Serena Clarke in a debut spotlight feature but today I'm delighted to welcome Serena back for a bit of a chat. 

Can you tell us a little bit about All Over the Place? 
The starting point for All Over the Place was inspired by something that happened to me on the tube, when I lived in London. Livi’s adventures after that are not the same as mine, of course. (Well, mostly…but I’ll say no more!) It’s a story about finding the place you’re meant to be – and the person you’re meant to be with.

Which comes first, the characters or the plot?

For me, it’s a mixture. I start with a fairly clear idea of the main characters. I like to think through a basic plot to begin with, and then the strands gradually come together. I do like stories with interwoven threads. And then other characters just kind of turn up, which is a lot of fun! But if I get stuck on a scene, it’s actually dialogue that saves me. I let the characters have their conversation, and then fill in from there.

Being a writer appears to be such a solitary lifestyle, especially when you’re in the midst of writing, so do you consider the influence of social media, Facebook and Twitter, a blessing or a hindrance?
Oh a blessing, definitely! Well, maybe a little bit of a hindrance some days, but I suspect that if I wasn’t procrastinating on social media, I’d be doing it somewhere else. At least on Twitter and Facebook you’re discovering interesting people, making friends, and getting lots of new ideas and information. That’s better than Kardashians reruns!

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Actually, I for most of my life I assumed EVERYONE wanted to be a writer. I was amazed when I finally realised there were people out there who had no desire to write a book! So yes, I always wanted to write. It just took a while to screw my courage to the sticking place and take the plunge.

If you weren’t a writer, what career path would you have chosen to follow?
I’ve had lots of ideas about this over the years! My arts degree in Scandinavian Studies didn’t exactly lead straight to a job. And I love horses, but once I’d done my Diploma in Equine Management I went to work in communications for the tax department! For a while, I taught English as a second language to teenagers, which was interesting and hair-tearing in equal measure. But most of my jobs have actually involved writing, editing or proofreading, for magazines, newsletters and even a medical journal. So whatever I did, it would be wordy stuff.

Are you able to give us a hint as to what your next novel is about?

Twin sisters who leave London to join a flash mob movement in California. Matchmaking, bees, Iggy Pop, loss and acceptance, secrets and sandcastles. A hostage drama, people power in a hyper-connected world, true love, and the trials and joys of sisterhood. That’s what it’s about so far, anyway – it may give me some surprises along the way!

How hard is it to keep coming up with fresh ideas for new books?

I’m only working on my second, but ideas are queuing up for many more. Actually, it would be easier if they’d form an orderly queue! They all jostle around, pushing in, wanting to be next. Hopefully it will always be like that, but ask me again in a few years…

Have you ever had writer’s block? And how did you overcome it?
Even if you have lots of ideas, getting the actual writing done can be tricky sometimes. On the days when it feels really hard, I just do what I can. It might not be much. Sometimes I skip forward to a scene that seems easier, or more inviting. There’s no rule that says you need to begin at the beginning and go on until you reach the end, like Alice in Wonderland! But for every day of sighing and head scratching, there’ll be another when everything flows, and eventually you WILL get to the end.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

Keep the faith. Everyone was unpublished once, even if they can’t remember what it was like. Look at all those books out there. If you’re willing to do the work, one of them could be yours. Well, why not?

Do you have much spare time to read books? If so, what was the last book
you read or what are you currently reading?

Not as much time as I used to, unfortunately. When I’m in full writing mode I tend not to read much, especially if I’m at a difficult stage. It’s too easy to read someone else’s book and fall into a state of despair, convinced that you’ll never write anything as witty/compelling/interesting! I am reading a lot of books by writer friends, which is fun and often makes you see them in a new light! Right now I’m also reading When in Rome, by Nicky Pellegrino. She completely transports you to 1950s Rome, the food, the back streets, the glamour, and – fascinating – the world of Mario Lanza. I’m loving it.

If you could invite any three authors, alive or dead, to a dinner party, who
would you choose and why?

Oh, this is easy. First, Bill Bryson. I adore his books – he’s so dry and understated, and so incredibly knowledgeable, yet he can make you cry with helpless laughter. I was lucky enough to go and see him speak once, and he was a complete delight. Then, C.S. Lewis. As a child, the Narnia books made a huge impression on me and how I see the world. I’d like to talk to him about life, the universe and everything. And the amazing Nora Ephron. She was so real and funny, and her writing was full of such heart – I can watch her movies over and over again. Imagine the conversation between the three of them!

Can you describe All Over the Place in 20 words or less?

Love, friends, home… sometimes, running away can lead you to exactly what you didn’t know you needed.

About All Over the Place
Contemporary romantic fiction with a chick lit feel – available 18 February 2013

Livi Callaway has fled back to London after a reality TV disaster in New Zealand. Safely anonymous in the big city, she’s determined to stay under the radar from now on. But her attempts to build a new life are complicated by unexpected visitors from her old one, and new dangers and temptations lie in wait.

Late one night, she meets a mysteriously sexy American on the Underground – and the events that follow take her from Pooh Bear to the golden lights of Paris, via a trail of rock stars dead and alive. A family in disarray, a determined Swede, a crazed Australian and a childhood friend (who might yet be more than that) have her all over the place as she tries to discover the American’s secret – while keeping her own.

With help – and occasional hindrance – from her friends, what she eventually finds is something unexpected...sometimes, running away can lead you to exactly what you didn’t know you needed.

Book Links: Amazon (US) or Amazon (UK)  

Find Serena here:

Facebook: SerenaClarkeAuthor
Twitter: @Serena_Clarke

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for having me Sharon - it's a treat to be here with you again! :-)