Her father’s death forces innocent pre-med student Alyssa Carlyle to work as an high-class escort for her estranged and provocative stepbrother Mace. Neither can deny their shameless desire and steamy passion, but can they earn each other’s trust and escape the dark world they’ve entered?
In today’s interview I had the chance to sit down with full-time author Claire Donovan to discuss her latest book ‘Mace’ and some of her opinions about writing.
Claire, can you please start off today’s interview by letting the audience know what triggered the ideas behind your novel ‘Mace’.
Mace started with a conversation between my husband and I after I attended my monthly Romance Writer’s of America meeting. The topic of ‘Stepbrother Romances’ was being discussed by several of the authors attending and I decided I would write an ‘over-the-top’ stepbrother romance about a stepsister working as an escort in her stepbrother’s business. I wanted ‘Mace’ to have all the elements of a traditional romance – including virginity, commitment, no cheating and an happily ever after ending.
I think that this is the first interview where we’ve had a writer’s novel idea triggered from a writers meeting and following conversation. That’s quite exciting, I love to hear about all of the different ways that stories come to life.
Now, you mentioned that you’ve tried to incorporate all of the elements of a traditional romance, was that a big driver of your novel?
Absolutely. The themes in Mace are the necessity for forgiveness, honesty and commitment in successful relationships.
Did you do any research on these themes or other aspects when you were writing?
I always research my work heavily. If I set a scene in a particular place or time I will read up on it and follow searches in Google, etc. to get my facts straight and also develop the color needed for each scene or situation.
In addition to this research did you find that you needed to draw your personal life experiences?
Always. I’ve known people like Mace, Alyssa, Morgan, Simon, Kelly and Dr. Priestly. There’s always a little bit of myself and my own life in every scene and character.
How do you approach the elements of yourself and your other ideas to create characters?
Mace was the first character I created because I’ve known guys like him, Alyssa is the primary narrator and so she carries most of the narrative burden. Mace also narrates (dual POV) but he can be a lot looser than Alyssa. Alyssa learns to loosen up in relating to Mace, and he learns to become more accepting and responsible. So they developed together, just like real life.
When you were writing did you find that you had favourites?
Morgan is a great secondary character. Her relationships and interactions with Mace and Alyssa divide them AND bind them as a couple.
Do ever find yourself dreaming about your characters?
All the time. I am a very active dreamer and story ideas or scenes come to me often in dreams.
If you could, is there any character in your book that you would like to go on a date with or take out for a beer?
I would like to sit down at a neighborhood bar with ALL my characters, and recount the entire story. That would be great fun!
That does sound like great fun. You write full time don’t you? How did that evolve?
Yes, I write full time. I found I had a knack for writing in my freshman year at college and read all the time. I take my writing craft very seriously, even if my books are Stepbrother romances in which the Hero runs an escort service!
With the release of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ I think that there’s been a bit of a change of attitudes towards more salacious novels, and as far as I am concerned everything regardless of topic should be well written, despite how racey it is. How do you tackle the writing process itself?
I write everyday. I don’t have a set number of words. I usually come up with an idea, and those ideas that stay with me I will eventually ‘Story Map’ and ‘Story Board’ for scenes and dramatic peaks and valleys. So I usually write in ‘scenes’ with a mapped outcome. Every scene is purposeful and contributes to the narrative flow and outcome of the story.
That is a fairly rigorous writing process. How do you go about editing?
I do most of the editing myself with an inner circle of friends and advisors.
Your writing process does seem to be rather tight. How do you go about getting a book cover to suit your end product?
I design all my book covers. I have very good Photoshop and design skills. I worked in web development and design for over ten years.
Those are very handy skills to have. So, how long did the end-to-end process take for you? For example how long did it take for the novel ‘Mace’?
About five months.
What did you find the most rewarding thing about writing?
The most rewarding thing about any book is having the characters and scenes come alive.
What are you working on next?
My next release is HILO, already in pre-order for September release on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01INNDIDQ. Readers will find a synopsis there. :)
I hope that anyone who is interested checks out that upcoming release. Now going back, how did you feel when you got your first book review?
It’s always interesting and fun to read what other people think. I especially enjoy reviews when its obvious that the reader ‘gets’ it.
Do you have any tips for self-publishing for other authors to get where you are today?
Stick with it, hang out on kboards, write everyday. :)
What do you think about the future direction of reading/ writing and publishing?
Very positive. I feel that the Indie movement has really increased the diversity of writing available and the empowered individual authors. There are so many stories of success that would not have been possible fifteen years ago.
Who are your favourite authors, and do you believe that they have contributed your writing style and success?
I actually enjoy the classics. Authors such as Willa Cather, Scott Fitzgerald and Harper Lee are probably my biggest influences. Their careful selection of words and scenes is always present in my writing.
What are you currently reading?
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand. I’m in the beginning stages of planning a romance set in the world of horse racing.
What was your favourite book as a child?
To Kill A Mockingbird. It’s so beautifully written.
And, who is your favourite literary character?
‘Scout’ in To Kill A Mockingbird
Is there a book that you wish that you would have written?
It is still to be written… :)
Ooh. Good answer. Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
I’m a Buddhist/Christian. In practice that means studying the universe I live in and actively and intentionally applying the lessons I learn on a daily basis.
That sounds like a very effective way to live. Now we’re at my favourite, the quick fire round. Just answer the new set of questions with whatever comes to mind. What is your favourite quote?
“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
Can you curl your tongue?
Which are cooler? Dinosaurs or Dragons?
Wow, I think that’s the first time that dinosaurs have won out over dragons. And finally, what’s the most unusual name you’ve ever come across?
Chloe – but the woman insists that ‘CH – LOW’ is the correct way to pronounce her name. And she gets very upset and angry if you pronounce it ‘kloh-ee’ :)
That is just bizarre. Well, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank you again for taking a little bit of time out of your busy day to spend with myself and the audience and the insights that you have given us on your view of the world. Good luck with HILO and your other upcoming writing projects and hopefully we will be able to catch up again to chat about your progress.
Want to find out more about Claire? Contact her at the following locations: