INTERVIEW AT L. J. LaBARTHE – MAY 2012

1. For readers who are new to the world of Clare London and your writing, can you tell us how you found the transition from fanfic to profic?

It was a stumble rather than a transition :D. I’d been writing for years and when I found fanfiction – especially m/m fanfic – I was thrilled. There was plenty of scope to write in all genres and styles, with the support of a great community, and a marvellous opportunity to improve my craft. I was also writing outside fanfic as well and it was always my hope to be published professionally one day. One day I read a blog post from an author who was announcing she’d got her m/m novel published at a US e-publisher. After congratulating her, I asked about the publisher and she encouraged me to submit. It took me ages to pluck up courage but when I finally did submit a novel I’d written, it was accepted – and a sequel requested at the same time!

(Gold Warrior And Twisted Brand, repackaged in 2011 as a single volume BRANDED)

2. What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted? And when you first saw the cover of the finished product?

I was absolutely stunned but obviously thrilled. My greatest ambition to date had been to appear on Amazon – and there I was LOL. A friend of mine had designed the cover, which was an extra bonus. Nowadays that’s one of the best things about being published – seeing my cover art displayed in online bookstores.

3. How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

Inspiration tends to start with a scene, or maybe a piece of dialogue. Something about it intrigues me and fires me up to take the scene further, to flesh out the story around it. And then I just let the characters talk among themselves. Dialogue works very well for me in creating the unique “voice” of a book.

4. What themes do you enjoy writing about?

I particularly like the clash of opposites, especially if the two men are each strong-willed in their own way. I like heroes with passion and a healthy sexual appetite, but with a good helping of sympathetic personality flaws as well. I like some misunderstanding and conflict, but I don’t like that taken to such extremes I want to slap them back to sense!

5. You have a sequel to True Colors coming out soon with Dreamspinner Press, and I thought it would be fun to talk fantasy casting, one of my favourite daydream subjects. So, if a movie was to be made of these stories, and you were given creative control, who would you cast as Miles and Zeke, and why?

What a fabulous thought…. And how difficult to answer! But I think at the moment I’d see Gabriel Macht (from Suits) as Miles. He has that blend of steely determination with a twinkle of amusement and the promise of passion underlying the smart suit. Maybe a little older than Miles – but with the right attitude! Then I’d see Taylor Kitsch (John Carter) as Zeke – sexy and good-looking in a relaxed way, with the spark of rebellion that’d really suit Zeke’s sometimes outrageous and unruly behaviour!

6. Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us?

I’m currently working on a novel called (tentatively) Compulsion. It’s set in Brighton, UK and seems to have a high percentage of steamy to romantic scenes LOL. It also has “heroes” that fit the profile I described above very well. Max has been away in London, getting mixed up in all the wrong things in the Soho nightclub life, but after a personal tragedy, he returns to stay with his friends in Brighton, and to try to turn over a new leaf. Then on one of his first social trips out he meets Seve, and a dangerous and irresistible compulsion flares up between them. Max is hiding from memories of his life in London, and Seve is hiding from commitment with a succession of casual lovers. But after their first, explosively passionate meeting, they can’t keep their hands off each other. Gradually their two lives intertwine too closely for comfort, and their secrets start to merge and emerge. They’ll both have to face exposure, or break apart.

I’m planning to finish it in the next couple of months, then submit it in the hopes of a release later in the year. My publisher has already allocated me a spot – I just have to come up with the goods!

7. What is your favourite room to write in? Do you have any little rituals or quirks that you do while you write/prepare to write?

I write mainly in a corner of the dining room – there isn’t any other choice! – where I have a reasonably comfortable set up with my desktop and papers around me. I like to face the window so I have a view of the garden, and to have a vase of flowers beside me to cheer up the room. Then plenty of coffee, and the small statue of my Muse on the table beside the keyboard.

8. What is the most rewarding experience you have had as an author and what made it so?

Well, there was the first time my cover appeared on Amazon, as I said before! And since then, it’s been a succession of excitements – travelling overseas to conventions and meeting other authors, learning to blog and promote, earning the occasional award and/or good review. The *best* thing is definitely meeting and being contacted by readers, and sharing the books with them. And once – a treasured time – one of them actually squealed aloud with excitement at being introduced to *me*!

9. Did you always want to be an author? Have your goals changed significantly over the years?

Yes, I most definitely did! There’s a difference of course between wanting to be an author and wanting to be a *published* author, which is an important thing I’ve learned. Over the years, I’ve still always wanted to be an author, but I examine my goals every now and then to see what else I want, and where I’m heading. Do I want to be famous / rich (better not give up the day job *g*) / prolific / motivated / satisfied etc.

10. How do you combat the dreaded writer’s block when it rears its ugly head?

Depends why it happens of course. If I’m personally tired, I have to leave things alone and rest, not an easy thing for me to do *g*. But if it’s just that I’ve lost my way in a story, I often dig out one of my other WIPs and play around with that for a while. It seems to refresh me. Or I write a ficlet or two – just a few words for fun, to rejuvenate my Muse. I also *read* a lot more. It helps me to enjoy other people’s style and stories.

 

11. How do you come up with titles?

I like to pick out a title from the text itself, or from its central theme. So Sparks Fly came from the reaction between the main characters, Branded from the military theme of the fantasy world of Aja City, True Colors is a pun on both the theme and Zeke’s career, Freeman is from the eponymous hero…

12. How do you react to a bad review of one of your books?

Weep, eat chocolate, read some good reviews to reassure myself I’m not completely crap, and then get on with writing what I love as best I can LOL.

13. What have you learned along the way of your journey as an author?

A vast amount but I’ll just give you some highlights :D. That’s it’s not just about the writing, that the move to publishing is a significant step change. That it’s important to hang on to real life perspective, when the huge and unruly online world appears to be going mad *g*. That some readers will like your books, some won’t, and some may never even get to know you. That when you publish, you become your “pen name”, so be prepared to develop a professional persona as well as your more relaxed real-life character.

14. What are your top three favourite books (not written by you. :D)

Impossible to say! Too many, and it changes every week LOL. So here are the top few in my recent reading/re-reading list, all of which I’ve loved, and have stayed in my mind.

Channelling Morpheus series (Jordan Castillo Price) / Lola Dances (Victor J Banis) / Gentleman and the Rogue (Bonnie Dee & Summer Devon) / The Affair (Lee Child) / Lover Mine (JR Ward) / Blaque Bleu (Belinda McBride) / Bad Boyfriend (KA Mitchell) / Brush with Desire (Chrissy Munder) / Maloneys Law (Anne Brooke) / My Best Friend’s Dad (JM Snyder) / Fairy and the Carpenter (Cassandra Gold) / Serendipity (Mallory Path).

15. Last but not least, the silly question, the one I ask everyone I ever interview. In the next life, if you came back as a plant, what would that plant be, and why?

A sweet potato. I like the contrast of cute and sensible :D.

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