Karen Clarke, author of, My Future Husband, recently answered a few questions for our Novelicious readers.
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
My writing day can be a bit erratic as I’m not very disciplined! I do some housework then go to my local Costa and write for a couple of hours without internet distractions, and if it’s going particularly well I’ll often carry on at home in the evenings. I really work better first thing and I’m trying to cultivate a habit of writing as soon as I wake up, but it’s not working out so far!
When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
I rarely base appearances on celebrities or people I know as I find it too distracting. All my main male characters would be inspired by Josh Holloway, who played Sawyer in Lost, but as soon as I picture him they start behaving like Sawyer, which isn’t right for the story! I’m sure personality traits of people I know creep into my writing though.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
This is difficult, as I love so many female writers. Bridget Jones’s Diary and Catherine Alliott’s The Old Girl Network –which both made me laugh out loud – had the biggest impact on me in terms of wanting to write humorous women’s fiction, but the only women’s fiction book I’ve ever read twice is Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes, which made me laugh AND cry.
Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I’ve tried detailed planning, but get bogged down. It doesn’t work for me. I do have an idea of a beginning, middle and end, but like to dive in and be surprised along the way. I wrote about five drafts of My Future Husband (there was a time machine in the first one and far too many characters) three drafts of my second novel – maybe with my third I’ll get it down to one! I actually enjoy rewriting – I know I’m making the story better.
What was your journey to being a published author?
I started with an online writing course – The Writer’s Bureau – about ten years ago, and to my surprise my first two articles sold, which motivated me to carry on writing (thought I didn’t finish the course!) I then joined an online writing group, and thanks to the support and feedback there began selling short stories to women’s magazines. Alongside that I naively bashed out a humorous novel and started submitting it. It got some positive feedback from agents, but ultimately wasn’t good enough (it’s still languishing in a drawer somewhere!). I then had the idea for My Future Husband and just knew I had to write it. I signed with an agent on the strength of the first three chapters, and once it had been redrafted a few times she pitched it at The London Book Fair. It went to auction in Germany and sold to Random House/Goldmann and was published there in July last year. There was a lot of interest in the UK, and I came very close to being published by one of the big six, but for various reasons it didn’t happen in the end. My lovely agent took the decision to publish it herself as an e-book under her own digital imprint, which I’m thrilled about.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That we’re all filthy rich, like JK Rowling – and that we loll around in our dressing-gowns eating cake and secretly shopping online when we should be writing. Oh hang on – that last bit’s true.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel their own?
It’s a cliché, but just DO it. I spent a long time reading ‘how-to’ books, looking for a secret formula – a magic tip – that would reveal to me how I could produce a publishable novel, and it finally dawned on me there wasn’t one. There’s no other way but to put words on paper, and when you do they take on a life of their own and you realise you’re doing it! Even if they’re rubbish you can always go back and edit them. Oh, and read. A lot.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just finished my third novel, A Woman Possessed, and I’m going to put it to one side for a few weeks and write lots of short stories, then go back and start editing it. I’ve also had an idea for a new novel, and can’t wait to get cracking!
Karen Clarke's Website