Today I have Claire Fullerton on my blog. Her book is set in Galway, Ireland, the place my grandparents were born, so I am thrilled to have her here talking about her book.
Hello Claire. What book are you promoting right now?
My second novel with Vinspire Publishing, which is contemporary fiction, set on the western coast of Ireland, and entitled “Dancing to an Irish Reel.”
How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
The idea for the novel came from the year I spent living and working in Galway, Ireland. It was an incredibly pivotal and eye-opening year for me, as I lived as an outsider in rural Ireland, and everything was new and fascinating. I took much of this story from true events and based some of the characters on people I met and worked alongside. The story is fiction, but set in the area where I actually lived.
Tell us about your writing process. How do you fuel your writing?
I have now written three novels, and my process has been the same throughout all of them. I treat the project as a full-time job, which means I am at my desk, coffee in hand, first thing in the morning and typically stop around four in the afternoon, but I do take breaks. What fuels my writing is having the complete story in hand and the motivation to craft it as a continuing project until the first draft is finished. Then I set the draft aside for a couple of days, and go back through it line-by-line with a fresh perspective. I typically go through my manuscript five or six times, and have found the trick to be retaining an overview of what is on every page. I like to be as familiar with the manuscript as if it were a one thousand word essay because this lends to continuity with an eye towards the ebb and flow of the entire story.
What is your favourite scene in your book?
I’m so glad you used the word scene, because this is literally how I write my books. I see the entire anatomy of a scene in my mind’s eye and write it as if it stands alone. My favorite scene in “Dancing to an Irish Reel” begins when the narrator, Hailey Crossan, goes with the Irish musician, Liam Hennessey, to a pub in Clifden, which is a village fifty miles away from where she lives in Inverin. It is a long drive through the breath-taking, but desolate region of Connemara, where there is nothing but uninterrupted bog land forever, until the moment Clifden comes into view. Liam Hennessey is a guest musician on this particular night, so Hailey stands amidst the audience, well aware of the captivating, salt of the earth locals around her, and finds herself engaged in a series of memorable conversations, which could only happen to a stranger in a strange land. I went out of my way to describe what it feels like to be in an Irish music venue, where everybody seems to know each other, and I gave life to the musician Liam Hennessey’s art as he played in a trio to an adoring audience.
Tell us about your main character? What makes her so special?
Hailey Crossan is a twenty-five year old American who takes a sabbatical from her job in the Los Angeles record business and takes a trip to the west of Ireland, where she is unexpectedly offered a job in the music business that is too good to refuse. I wrote “Dancing to an Irish Reel” in the first person, so it is Hailey’s voice the reader hears as she tells about her surroundings and the people in it. Hailey is confident, insightful, adventurous and able to hold her own in unusual circumstances. She realizes she must acclimate to the social and cultural nuances of rural Ireland, and canny enough to go with the flow as she navigates the region. What is so special about Hailey is she sees clearly when she meets Liam Hennessey, who is a regionally famous musician who has never been in love. So unbalanced is Liam at the prospect of love that he can’t decide if he should come closer or run away. Hailey suspects his confusion may have something to do with the inherent culture clash between them, but she remains open-minded, even subtly amused throughout a dynamic that plays itself out like the push and pull of love’s ambiguity.
What would you like readers to take away from your book?
Such a good question, and one I am enthusiastic to answer: I wanted to write a story about a dynamic I think happens to everyone at one time or another. It involves the initial stages of attraction, when two people meet and are clearly interested in each other, but unable to fully understand one another. There is always such hope and excitement in the initial stages of love, but there is also uncertainty, doubt and, often times, confusion. It is during such straits when one turns to their friends and says, “He’s saying this, but acting otherwise; what in the world is going on?” I love the subject of what really goes on behind the scenes, so I gave the reader Hailey’s thoughts as she is coming to know Liam Hennessey. What I want the reader to take away from “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is that love rarely has a smooth course. My intention was to write a book that is true to life.
What do you read? What are your favourite books and who are your favourite authors?
I am a fan of the well written, first person story. I find this easier to connect with the author than any other point of view, so I favor reading and writing in the first person. The authors I admire are Pat Conroy, Ann Rivers Siddons, and Donna Tartt; all have mastered this craft. Pat Conroy’s “The Prince of Tides” is my favorite book of all times, and is an American classic by quite possibly the greatest Southern writer living today. I like to read the masters of fiction because it informs my process. I am not a genre reader beyond fiction, and when I read fiction, I want to learn something significant about language and craft.
Do you have any advice for someone starting out as a writer?
The first stage is writing your book, however it is that you do that. Worry about everything else after you are satisfied that you have your best effort put forth. Next, get the book “The Writer’s Market” and familiarize yourself with the publishing world. From here, you can decide to submit to a traditional publisher, look for an agent, or self-publish. Be realistic in what you are prepared to do with regard to the work behind promoting your book. I don’t know about self-publishing because I’ve never done it, but if this is what you decide to do, align yourself with people who know the score.
How do you market your books?
I am thrilled to report that Vinspire Publishing has taught me everything I now know about marketing and promotion. Before I signed with them, I hadn’t a clue what was expected of me in order to get the word out that my books exist! Vinspire has done much for me, but in this day and age, it seriously falls to the author to be everywhere on social media. I spend a lot of time connecting with other authors, ferreting out book blog sites, promoting other authors, posting on Twitter, Facebook, and everywhere that will have me. I also repeatedly hold book signings because I believe in the merits of showing up in person!
How do you get book reviews? Has this been successful?
Before my books came out, I sent an advance copy to three authors with noteworthy careers and asked them for a review with the understanding that a ‘blurb” from their review would appear on the back cover of my book. If you look towards doing this far enough in advance, it is advantageous. All other reviews have come to me organically, but there have been times when a reader posted on my author Facebook page reporting they’d liked my book, and I’ve come right out and politely asked for them to post a review!
Who or what encouraged (or still encourages) you in your writing?
I am encouraged by brilliant writers. I am inspired by those who have literally mastered the art of writing a novel. It isn’t easy to do, but writers learn from reading other writers; many are way-showers with regard to the written word’s possibilities, and I think it is imperative for a writer to be a perpetual student. I never compare myself to other writers, but I do applaud those who do it well. It was from reading good writers that I said to myself, long ago, “This is what I want to be able to do.” So it is a constant state of becoming and a willingness to stay the course, but the aim should be to continue to grow as a writer. This is why I continuously read.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Yes, I am the kind of writer who loves to help other writers! I will answer anything that anyone would like to ask. I think writers can and should rub shoulders with other writers. We’re all on the same path; some ahead, some behind, so none of us should be hesitant to ask for directions!
Thank you so much, Claire, what a great interview. I love your insights into living in rural Ireland and your thoughtfulness around the first stages of attraction.
How to connect with Claire:
Direct Links to Purchase “Dancing to an Irish Reel”
Amazon Books and Kindle
Barnes and Noble Books and Nook
Direct Links to Purchase ”A Portal in Time”
Amazon Books and Kindle EBooks: Link
Barnes and Noble Books and Nook EBooks: Link
Google Play: Link