Thanks Glynis for interviewing me. It is lovely to be on your blog.
What is your genre? Why did you choose it?
I write historical fiction – nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I didn’t consciously choose the genre at first – the stories happened to be set in the past. But through a total of five novels I have stuck with historical – I think I enjoy the distance it offers. That said, I have just published a small collection of short stories and a few of them are contemporary – so who knows in the future?
Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
No. There might be a small overlap in the final editing phases of a book when I may start on the next one, but I usually prefer to finish each book before embarking on the next – the waters of my brain are muddy enough anyway without muddying them further!
If I need a bit of a break I might write a short story.
Do you work with a writing/critique group?
Yes. Just over a year ago I moved here to Eastbourne and met a couple of other authors and we decided to set up a group. There are five of us and we meet every fortnight for a three hours. A few days before the meeting we send each other a piece of work – a chapter or a couple of thousand words so we have time to read it before we meet. In the meeting we each do a reading and then give each other feedback. Tough but fair!
Can you remember your first reading book?
Probably Jane and John. My dad was a teacher and taught me to read before I started school. I worked my way through the J&J canon very quickly! I also read the Flower Fairy books, Mabel Lucy Atwell and then graduated onto What Katy Did and Heidi.
Do you nibble on snacks while writing? If so, what is your chosen treat?
Not really. I always stop for lunch though and am partial to a biscuit or a piece of cake with one of the numerous cups of tea I consume during the working day.
Tidy desk or a bomb-site? Describe your writing area with us.
I try to keep it tidy but it keeps getting inundated with papers then I have a purge. I have a big desk with my printer in a cupboard underneath. I write on an iMac in the study – or my MacBook if I’m elsewhere – right now I’m on the balcony as it’s so hot! My study has a couple of comfy chairs and a wall of books – my research books, dictionaries etc – as well as painting and drawing materials. The room is the darkest in the house with no interesting view so I have a daylight lamp on the desk. I like it that way as it means no distractions. If I want to see the sea I move into the kitchen or sit on the balcony.
Are you published in the traditional manner or self-published? Share your journey.
I started out on the traditional route. I was taken on by a literary agency but despite my agent’s efforts the book didn’t sell to a publisher. I decided to give self-publishing a go. By then I’d written a second book so three months later I self published that too and have gone on to publish four more. I have found the SP community to be hugely supportive and I have no regrets. and I love being able to control my own destiny.
Who would you say have been the three most influential authors in your reading/writing life?
I find that so difficult to answer as I have been influenced by so many writers over the years. If forced to choose I’ll say Thomas Hardy, George Eliot and John Steinbeck. Among current writers, Hilary Mantel, Ian McEwan and William Boyd
What advice would you like to share with other writers/authors with regard to preparing a manuscript?
Get professional help! Don’t cut corners on editing. No matter how good you are, how superb your command of grammar and how sharp your eyes, you will miss things in your own manuscript. It’s the way the brain is wired. You must have a fresh pair of eyes. I used to also get professional help with formatting but now that Vellum has come into my life I can do it myself and have it looking beautiful.
If the movie rights to your novels are purchased, who would you like to play your main characters?
My new book The Chalky Sea is set in the Second World War. There are two main characters, Gwen an emotionally repressed Englishwoman transformed by the war. could be played by Rachel Weiss. Jim is a young Canadian, a little naive, brave and honourable. It has to be a younger Ryan Gosling.
Do you have an eventful tale to tell relating to an everyday, boring event?
This happened to my friend Michael. He was coordinating a meeting for a bunch of people from all over the world, most of whom he hadn’t met before. Summoned to reception to meet and greet a colleague from the USA, with whom he’d had many telephone conversations, he went downstairs and advanced across the reception, hand outstretched in greeting and a huge grin on his face.
‘You must be Robin,’ he said. ‘I thought you were a woman.’
‘I am a woman,’ was the frosty reply.
Michael immediately reversed backwards across the room, shouting ‘Re-wind! Re-wind!’ and then moved forward holding out his hand again and said, ‘Robin, darling, how lovely to meet you at last.’
They became firm friends.
I love Michael’s response! Thanks for sharing his story, Clare.
Clare Flynn writes historical fiction with a strong sense of time and place and compelling characters. Her books often deal with characters who are displaced – forced out of their comfortable lives and familiar surroundings. She is a graduate of Manchester University where she read English Language and Literature.
Born in Liverpool she is the eldest of five children. After a career in international marketing, working on brands from nappies to tinned tuna and living in Paris, Milan, Brussels and Sydney, she ran her own consulting business for 15 years and now lives in Eastbourne where she writes full-time – and can look out of her window and see the sea.
When not writing and reading, Clare loves to paint with watercolours and grabs any available opportunity to travel – sometimes under the guise of research.
A Fine Pair of Shoes and Other Stories by Clare Flynn
A Tapestry of True Tales from Then and Now
A collection of nine short stories from award-winning historical fiction author Clare Flynn.
There are five historical tales – four based on stories from her family history, and a tragic tale, A Mother’s Love, from eighteenth century Sussex. The title story, A Fine Pair of Shoes, started out with her wish to capture and embroider the bare bones of a family story, based on her paternal great-great-grandparents’ trip to The Great Exhibition of 1851.
The Proposal draws on the tragic death of Clare’s maternal grandfather, killed on the Liverpool docks in 1934 when her mother was six.
She has also branched out into contemporary fiction with four intriguing stories – modern morality tales, set in England, Paris, the USA and an island in the Indian Ocean.
“Beautifully crafted, vividly brought to life on the page” these quirky stories give an insight into human nature at its best – and its worst.
Clare Flynn Biography
Clare Flynn is the author of five historical novels, set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She is a former global marketing director and owner of a strategy consultancy. After spells living and working in London, Paris, Milan, Sydney and Brussels, she now lives on the south coast of England.
In between writing novels she loves to paint and make quilts and she can see the sea and the South Downs from her windows. As often as possible she indulges her wanderlust by travel and pretends it’s all the name of research.
Clare’s novels feature places she knows well and she does extensive research to build the period and geographic flavour of her books. A common theme to her books is displacement – people forced out of their comfortable and familiar way of life and compelled to adapt to difficult and hostile circumstances often in a distant land.