I am delighted to welcome Claire Huston to Chat About Books today 🙂
Claire is a woman of many talents. She is a fellow book blogger, friend, and talented author of Art & Soul, which I can personally recommend highly. It is a pleasure to be able to share this interview with you all, and don’t forget to enter the amazing giveaway!
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book please?
I live in Warwickshire, UK, with my husband and two sons. I’m a translator, book blogger, writer and keen amateur baker. I self-published my first contemporary romance, Art and Soul, in April 2020.
Art and Soul is a feel-good romantic story about Becky Watson, a stubborn and highly-resourceful single mother. She’s hired to fix the personal and career troubles of a struggling local artist, Charlie Handren. Becky is delighted to get the job but soon starts to realise that fixing all of Charlie’s problems may mean denying herself a happily ever after.
It’s an uplifting romance featuring wedding fiascos, beautiful art and delicious cake!
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
I find it hard to put my finger on any specific source. I think I just absorb films, books, TV shows, things I overhear and see day-to-day. That all percolates somewhere at the back of my mind and then ideas spring to the front.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
I don’t think so. Not consciously, anyway. But then as I get my ideas from everywhere, they could well be!
How do you pick your characters’ names?
I put a lot of thought into character names. I’ve kept the “Name Your Baby” book I used when choosing names for my children and always check what names mean before deciding on one. And the name and surname need to work together and say something about the character. For example, Becky Watson in Art and Soul got her first name from one of the feistiest and most resourceful heroines in English literature – Becky Sharpe in Vanity Fair – and her surname from Sherlock Holmes’ greatest assistant and loyal friend.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
It mostly involves writing whenever I can around working part-time and looking after two children! I usually outline in a notebook and often scribble down ideas on paper, but when I sit down to write I type straight into Word. I always have a rough plan of the plot, but leave space for surprises.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
That is such a hard question. I’m going to cheat and choose 5 authors writing before I was born first: Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens and PG Wodehouse. Then five after I was born: Terry Pratchett, Becky Chambers, Victoria Schwab, Madeline Miller and Diana Wynne Jones. Honestly, I could go on forever. I think it’s impossible for a bookworm to have an ultimate top 5 books or authors.
Were you a big reader as a child?
Definitely! My mum always told me off for reading after bedtime using the light from the landing. If I found a book I liked, I made it my mission to read all the books in the school and local library had by the same author.
When did you start to write?
Early: I still have stories I wrote at primary and secondary school. Studying English at university put me off writing for years, but I’ve always had stories buzzing away in my head and writing is the best way to get them out and persuade the characters to leave you alone.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
So many. All the books I’ve ever enjoyed, really. But I think it would be amazing to have accomplished something like Hilary Mantell’s Wolf Hall trilogy. The combination of meticulous historical research and boundless imagination that went into those books is remarkable.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
For the story of my life, I’d probably go with one of the phrases I find myself saying a million times a day to my kids and/or myself: “What did I come in here for?”, “Well, where did you leave it?” or “I don’t care who started it!”
Tell us a random fact about yourself.
If I’m allowed something that surprised me (rather than being strictly random), I counted up the recipes on my blog the other day and was shocked to find I’d reached 140! I never would have believed I’d make it to that number, but it is handy to have all the recipes I like to use online and in one place. It saves hunting through the cupboard for the right recipe book.
What are you working on right now?
I’ve recently started my third novel, which will be another contemporary romance. A happy story about a couple who meet under “interesting” conditions, don’t immediately hit it off, but learn to get along when they keep being thrown together. So the classic stuff of romance!
Do you have a new release due?
My second novel – a contemporary romance set in a beautiful little village in the Cotswolds – is currently out on submission to agents and publishers. But if it doesn’t get picked up, I hope to publish it in spring 2021. Watch this space!
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
As we were in lockdown, publication day back in April wasn’t exactly what I’d planned. I made a cake decorated with my book cover and had a glass of fizz. I’m really hoping for the next book I’ll be allowed to celebrate with a few more people than my husband and children! It would be nice to have a small party and share the cake next time.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
I blog about books and baking on my website and they can sign up to follow my blog there. They can also sign up for my newsletter. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Goodreads as well. I think the better question is, “How can readers avoid me?!” I’ve put all the links together here:
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of me and the release of Art and Soul. Self-publishing your debut novel is always tricky, but this year has been trickier than most because of the pandemic and I’ll always be grateful to all the lovely, dedicated book bloggers, keen readers and fellow authors who have helped me get the word out about my book. Thank you!
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Claire!
UK Giveaway details
Win a Yoshi Christmas bookworm purse and a signed paperback copy of Art and Soul!
It’s nearly Christmas and one lucky bookworm has the chance to win themselves an early gift of this lovely Yoshi Christmas bookworm purse and a signed paperback copy of Art and Soul.
This prize draw is open to UK residents only from Sunday 22nd November until midnight on Monday 30th November (GMT).