Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Debut Spotlight: Clare Swatman

Today it's my pleasure to welcome author Clare Swatman for the final stop of the blog tour for her debut novel Before You Go which is publishing in hardback format tomorrow (eBook is already out and the paperback will be published later in the Summer).

Clare Swatman is a journalist for a number of weekly women's magazines. Clare was Features Editor for Bella and has written for Best, Woman's Own and Real People. She writes for her local magazine as well as the travel pages for Take a Break.  Clare lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and two boys.

Before You Go is her first novel, and she's busy working on her second.

If you had to give an elevator pitch for your debut novel Before You Go, what would it be? 
Ooh that’s mean, these are one of the toughest things to do! OK, how about ‘it’s a big hearted love story about enduring love, second chances, 1990s music, with a bit of time travel mixed in’? 

Before You Go revolves around Zoe having to come to terms with the loss of her husband Ed in traumatic circumstances, what inspired you to write such an emotional story for your debut? 
It was probably the many years I spent writing true life stories for magazines. Sometimes, people have the most amazing stories that you’d never think up yourself. Talking to people going through tough times and listening to the way they react made me think about how amazing people are, and how strong. I wanted to explore that, and thinking about how someone would react if they were given the chance to go back and change something terrible happening to someone they loved seemed like the perfect way of doing that. As it turns out, that’s pretty emotional!

Did Before You Go turn out the way you had planned or did you find the story taking you in a completely different direction once you started writing?  
I had the seed of the idea for ages and then it came to me in an epiphany, exactly how I wanted it to work. I sat down and wrote a chapter-by-chapter synopsis that very night. Of course it’s changed a lot since that early outline, but the story is essentially the same. I always knew where it was going, even if the way it got there changed a bit along the way. 

Describe Zoe in three words.
Loyal. Determined. Flawed. 

Has your experience as a journalist helped with the whole writing/editing process? 
Definitely. I wanted to write something I knew about, and my experience of writing people’s stories helped enormously. I learned to listen to the way people speak, and the things they really feel rather than the things we tend to imagine they feel. Plus, of course, having the discipline of sitting down and writing is difficult, so I already had that. And I understand the need for editing. Nothing is ever perfect the first time round, and if you think it is, then you probably need more editing than most!

Did you treat yourself to something special to celebrate your publishing deal? 
Ha, yes, I went out and bought the most eye-wateringly expensive pair of jeans I’ve ever bought! 

Have you anything exciting planned for publication day?
I’m having a launch party in my local Waterstones with lots of friends, family, my lovely agent and fab publisher. It feels a little bit like a fairytale come to life. 

Finally what can we expect from you next? 
I’m working on book two at the moment. I can’t say too much, but it’s essentially still a story about love, but done in a very different way. It’s also about families, and severed ties, desperation and, of course, hope. There’s always hope and I never want to write something that doesn’t contain it. 

When Zoe's husband Ed dies, her world caves in. But what if Zoe can get Ed back?

You find your soulmate . . .

Some people stare love in the face for years before they find it. Zoe and Ed fumbled their way into adulthood, both on different paths - but always in the same direction. Years later, having navigated dead-end jobs and chaotic house shares, romance finally blossoms. Their future together looks set . . .

Then the unthinkable happens.

One morning, on his way to work, Ed is knocked off his bike and dies. Now Zoe must find a way to survive. But she's not ready to let go of the memories. How can she forget all of the happy times, their first kiss, everything they'd built together? Zoe decides she has to tell Ed all the things she never said.

Now it's too late. Or is it?

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