Thursday, 14 March 2013

Author Spotlight: Debut Novelist Serena Clarke

Sorry I’ve had no Internet since the weekend - very frustrating. Grateful for husband’s work computer and borrowed access!

A very warm welcome to debut author Serena Clarke who is visiting all the way from New Zealand. Serena kindly answered all my questions and tells us about her debut novel, All Over the Place. It’s all yours Serena, and many thanks for coming over.

Thanks so much for having me to visit Rosemary – it’s lovely to be here!

Tell us a little about how you became a writer, Serena.

There was a certain birthday looming – a birthday with a roundy number. I’d spent years joking, in difficult moments, “Oh well, it’s all good material for the novel.” Like lots of people, writing a book was my ‘maybe one day’ thing. But I suddenly knew that ‘one day’ was now. So I started – and kept going until I finished!

Did you have to do a lot of research for this debut novel? Does your country/environment affect your writing?

Although I'm living in New Zealand, I was able to draw on lots of experiences from my time living in England and Europe. And of course the internet is an unbelievable resource. I still find Google Street View incredible – you can even hike the Grand Canyon with it now! And on YouTube you can find countless videos made by people just walking down the street – in Paris, or New York, or anywhere. It all helps, not just for specific detail, but for the feeling of a place. I’m looking forward to setting a book in New Zealand too – my exotic back yard!

How do you promote your books and does it work?

Well, All Over the Place has only just come out, so I’m not sure if it’s working yet. But I’m enjoying sharing interesting things on my Facebook author page, and merrily tweeting away, as well as visiting with lots of lovely authors and bloggers. All of that qualifies as ‘work’ but is actually the best fun!

What is the most difficult part about starting a new book?

Organising the ideas, definitely. The sisters in my next book are in for a wild ride – the trick is deciding what to torment them with first! (But don’t worry, they’ll be happy in the end!)

Do you think eBooks are the future? Or do you prefer print?

You can’t argue with the convenience of an e-reader – you can leave the house with dozens of books in one slim device. But I do think a bookshelf full of books is a thing of beauty. I’ll keep buying print, definitely.

Do you have a favourite writing place?

Bed is the best place, in a quiet house in the wee small hours, with everyone asleep. There’s a certain magic afoot at that time. It’s less magic when you have to get up a few hours later, and wrestle breakfast into children, and children into school uniforms! But it’s worth it. J

Do you find time for hobbies?

I always say my children are my hobby – like most mothers I spend a lot of time doing kid-related things and taking them around to lessons and activities. I’m the mum trying to keep her Kindle dry poolside! I have had a lot of hobbies over the years, but now writing fills all that time. In a good way!

What are your current writing plans?

All going well, finish the next book. Then write the one after that. Then the next one. And so on… *happy sigh*

Any tips for new writers?

I’m a pretty new writer so I’m still collecting tips myself! For the as-yet-unpublished, I like: “Writing is work, whether you’re published or not.” Take it seriously, keep learning from others, and don’t give up. And once you are published, the same rules apply!

Thanks for a great interview Rosemary – it was fun to chat with you across the world!

You're very welcome, Serena. Excellent answers, and I wish you all the best with your writing career. I’ll be adding your book to my TBR list!

All Over the Place – contemporary romantic fiction with a chick lit feel

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.

All Over the Place is available from all major e-book retailers, including:

Serena grew up in a family of itchy-footed readers and dreamers – not concentrating, reading the atlas and Narnia books, and planning to escape somewhere magical as soon as she could. When she was 16, she went from New Zealand to live in Sweden for a year. It was the beginning of many travels and adventures – and quite a few disasters! She didn’t know it at the time, but eventually she’d be grateful for all the downs as well as the ups. As writers say in the face of adversity: “I can use that.” She’s now living back in New Zealand, where she writes stories reflecting her determined belief in magic, possibility and second chances – and happy endings!

Find Serena here – she’d love to hear from you!


Wendy's Writing said...

This is a great interview Rosemary and Serena.'Take it seriously, keep learning from others and don't give up' - Great advice and one that shall be heeded by me in honour of the name of Clarke!

Joanna said...

A lovely interview. Thank you, Rosemary and Serena.
I like the advice about making sure you get started and also that you finish. I think finishing is the key, as so many people start to write and then run out of steam before the end.I try to plough on even when it isn't working. And, magically, somehow it starts to take shape all over again. That's the thrill of it for me.

Serena's book sounds fantastic, full of great twists and turns. I agree with the fact that organising all our ideas can be difficult. I get an a tangle with mine, but sleeping on it usually helps. I've never written in bed though! I shall have to give that a try!

Thanks so much and best of luck with the novel, Serena. I'm sure it will be successful. x

Serena Clarke said...

Ooh another Clarke - with an 'e' and everything! Thanks for your comment Wendy, and good luck with YOUR writing - if you're anything like your mum, I can see there'll be no stopping you! :-)

Serena Clarke said...

Thanks Joanna! It's lovely to think of us all working away on our writing, in our various places. There IS a kind of magic to it sometimes, I agree!

And thanks again for having me Rosemary - it's a treat to be here! :-)

Patsy said...

I do like those writing plans!

Teresa Ashby said...

Fabulous interview and good luck with the book, Serena - it sounds a terrific read.

I could spend all day tootling round on Google Earth - all in the name of research of course :-) x

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Great advice indeed, Wendy!

I need that lesson too about finishing, Joanna!

Me too, Patsy!

Thanks, Teresa!

Hi Serena - it's lovely to have you on the blog. All the very best with your book!

Gwen Kirkwood said...

Well done both of you it is a super interview.

Serena Clarke said...

Thanks Patsy, Teresa, Rosemary and Gwen - lovely to get to the computer this morning and find your comments! Hope you've all had a great writing day...with maybe just a little Google Earth-ing! :-)

RT Wolfe said...

Lovely post. Best wishes with that next MS.
-R.T. Wolfe

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for dropping in, Gwen!

Thanks for your comment, R.T.

Karen said...

I love doing research for my writing, and can easily get carried away!

Lovely interview, and the book sounds great :o)

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Karen - many thanks for your comment!

Joan Fleming said...

Such an interesting interview, Serena and Rosemary. Very best of luck with your debut novel.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Many thanks, Joan!

Thanks again for being on my blog, Serena, and for replying to comments. All best with your writing.

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

Terrific interview, Rosemary and Serena.

PS I hope your Internet is fixed soon. I broke ours last week - it took six hours to mend. It was a horrible day.

Serena Clarke said...

Thanks so much for your comments and good wishes RT, Karen, Joan and Suzanne! Rosemary, it's been a delight to visit with you - thank you again! :-)

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Suzanne - thanks for commenting! Internet finally returned on Thursday.

You're very welcome, Serena!