Tuesday 31 July 2018

Blog Tour: Author Interview with Claire Allen Her Name Was Rose

I am absolutely delighted to be part of the blog tour today for Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allen. I interviewed Claire for the blog today and I KNOW you are going to enjoy reading her answers to my questions as much as I did. But first, here's what you need to know about Her Name Was Rose. It is already out so you can order your copy by clicking here. And here's that synopsis for you:

Her name was Rose. You watched her die. And her death has created a vacancy.
When Emily lets a stranger step out in front of her, she never imagines that split second will change her life. But after Emily watches a car plough into the young mother – killing her instantly – she finds herself unable to move on.
And then she makes a decision she can never take back.
Because Rose had everything Emily had ever dreamed of. A beautiful, loving family, a great job and a stunning home. And now Rose’s husband misses his wife, and their son needs a mother. Why couldn’t Emily fill that space?
But as Emily is about to discover, no one’s life is perfect … and not everything is as it seems.

Without further ado, here's my interview with Claire!

First question-bit of a cliche-how did you get into writing? 
I have always been a writer. Even before I could write! I would draw pictures and fold them altogether to make my own “books”. I grew up in a house where we were always encouraged to read and I think that encouraged me to have a love for reading and writing. I wrote all through secondary school, then opted for a career in journalism because I wanted to make a career out of writing.
I decided to return to writing fiction when I was 29. A very dear friend had passed away and her last words to me had been “Write something good for me, girl!” – I took those words and decided to try and make her proud. Six months later I had finished writing my debut women’s fiction novel.

Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this? 
I have been writing full time for the last two years, and have been writing for the past 12. So for ten years I combined work with writing. For the first seven years of that, I worked full time as a journalist in a very busy newsroom. My children were also very small. My son was two when I started writing and I gave birth to my daughter between publishing books 2 and 3. So things were very, very hectic at times.
It’s a great privilege to write full time now, although it can take a lot of effort to stay focused!
Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer?
Before I owned a Kindle, I read women’s fiction almost exclusively. My downtime was precious and I wanted to be sure when I picked a book up it would be I had a high chance of liking. Getting a Kindle, and seeing so many great books on special offer, encouraged me to take more chances with my reading and try new genres.
It’s probably not surprising that women’s fiction and psychological thrillers are my favourite reads now.

How do you develop your characters as you write, are any of them based on real people?
As I’ve started writing Thrillers, I now plan my characters meticulously before I start writing. I will write a full character sketch, describing their physical attributes as well as they quirks and motivations. A lot of the information I jot down won’t even be used in the final book but it means I have a sense of a very real person before I start writing.
I probably take elements of people and use them, but I don’t base characters entirely on real people. The only exception to this was in my book The First Time I Said Goodbye, which was inspired by the true story of a couple I had met during my journalism career. It was written with their permission and guidance.

What was the inspiration behind Her Name Was Rose?
It sounds really cheesy to say it, but the first line “It should have been me”  just came to me in a dream and I couldn’t get shake it.  It kept running through my mind and I started to think about a character who would believe she was responsible for the death of another person through mistaken identity. From that point I’d noticed how the way we grieve has changed in recent years with increased use of social media. People often turn to social media to express their grief and take ownership of public tragedies. It tied into the notion that people only present themselves in certain ways online. That Facebook and Instagram can be “show-homes” for our real lives. They don’t always reflect what is really going on behind the scenes. This is examined for both Rose, who dies on the first page, and Emily, the character who is convinced the speeding car was meant for her.

What is your writing process-do you map it out first? Write in chronological order?
I do map it out now, and generally the main thrust of the story is written chronologically. I know some writers skip between different stages of their books but I have to do it as it will be read, so I can see how it all pans out and comes together.
That said, I quite like a bit of time hop in my writing – jumping back and forth between the present and the past to explain how a character behaves or add a little more depth to the story.
I will generally replot or remap a book three or four times while I’m writing to allow for those unexpected surprises along the way.

How much of you is reflected in your writing? 
I think every writer puts some of themselves in every book. It’s natural. If nothing else I like to think how I would react to the situations I put my characters in. I am the kind of person who wears my heart on my soul and is very open generally, so I suppose I tap into that emotional side of me every time I write.

What kind of research did you do before/during writing Her Name Was Rose?
Honestly? The biggest part of my research went into studying the writing process as I was changing genre. It felt like I was going back to school in many ways, for the technical writing side of things.
My years in journalism provided me with a grounding to be able to write authentically about women who have experienced abusive relationships as I had covered numerous feature articles and conducted many first person interviews on this subject over the years.

How much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get?
I’d like to say I don’t, but I do. It takes a lot of put a book out there for people to read and it’s only natural to crave feedback. Although, I can mostly now divide reviews into useful ones and ones which don’t help me get better. Getting a critical review can be hard, but if it comes with genuine constructive criticism then it can be a huge help to an author in the future.

Are friends and family supportive of your writing?

Yes, thankfully. Or I would be truly lost. My family is very proud and my father will tell anyone he meets to buy my book! My husband and children are also very proud and supportive. It’s not always easy when mum’s on a deadline and the kids have to take a little back seat for a bit, but they understand it’s my work. They are very much looking forward to my launch. My daughter, who is 9,  has been asking to read the book but I think she will have to wait another few years yet!

How do you feel leading up to your publication day?
I am so, so, so incredibly nervous but also hugely excited.  It has been a long process and my publishers, Avon, have been building such a buzz about the book that I can’t wait to see what happens. But yes, I am so very nervous! I just really hope people will enjoy it!

Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?
Ah so many! It’s no secret, I love Marian Keyes and she has inspired me for more than 20 years. I’m also a huge fan of Jojo Moyes, Anna McPartlin in more recent times C.L. Taylor and fellow Derry writer Brian McGilloway.

Finally...what are you working on right now?

I’ve just finished the first draft of my next thriller, Apple of My Eye which is a story about a mother’s obsessive relationship with her daughter. It’s quite and dark complex storyline, which I hope will draw readers in. At the moment, it’s scheduled for publication in January 2019.

Thank you so much for answering all my probing questions and stopping by the blog today!

Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more great content, extracts and reviews!

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