In this space we’ll be featuring the insights, thoughts, writing tips and news about forthcoming books from some of the authors whose works have been reviewed in the MBR.
We’re excited to have Claire Gem—a lady with a whole lotta moxie, an MFA in creative writing, and six published novels plus an autobiography, in addition to a “How-to” piece on the craft of writing. She’s a friend of the MBR, as well as a confidant, confederate, and one hot-hot-hot composer of supernatural suspense and contemporary romance novels. With many thanks to her for taking time to do this interview, here’s Claire Gem . . .
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
I am Claire Gem, and I write contemporary romance and supernatural suspense.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
I just released my sixth novel, “Civil Hearts,” which is a supernatural suspense set in an abandoned antebellum mansion in rural, western Alabama. The heroine is a web designer, a widow from Manhattan who needs a new start. The hero is an antiques/furniture store owner who is epileptic. His condition has already cost him his marriage.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
I believe in ghosts. I believe that certain people who haven’t fulfilled their destinies during their lifetime can get trapped between this world and the next. This is the theme of my Haunted Voices novels.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I actually visited an abandoned, antebellum mansion in western Alabama many years ago. My husband and I were considering a move to the area, and we toured this home, one I call the “Belle Bride” in the novel. The whole time I was in the house, I kept having that feeling of “being watched.”
We never did move to Alabama, and the memory faded—until I had a dream about the place earlier this year. The seed of an idea for Civil Hearts was born.
Can you tell me about your Series?
The Haunted Voices Series is one loosely connected by theme. It is NOT sequential, and each book stands alone. Sometimes characters from other HV novels appear in a subsequent book but they can be read in any order.
Do you have a favorite book out of this series?
I love them all. Like my children 😉
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
I should, but I don’t. I still work a full-time job that’s NOT writing, so I have to squeeze in writing time early mornings and evenings. I try to write at least 1000 words a day, but sometimes life gets in the way. Once I get on roll, though, watch out! I can pound out 3-5000 words in a weekend when the muse strikes.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
Funny you should ask! I have about 4-5 novels in various stages of development. I just today sent out an email to my subscribers asking which genre they would prefer I pursue in my next book: contemporary romance or supernatural suspense. So far, the landslide response has been for the latter. So, I have to choose between three titles: “Electricity,” “Pigments,” or “Sirens of Salt.” I’ve started work on them all. Now it’s just seeing which one snags my muse.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
No. I develop the character, do a profile of them, and then they sort of “tell me” their names . . .
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Perseverance when I hit a lull in the inspiration.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
Yes, Yes, Yes! I love them and design my own. Check out my trailers on Youtube.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Winning the New York Book Festival with “Hearts Unloched” in 2016. It was an honor to attend the awards banquet at the historic Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan. An experience I never will forget.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Being in total control of what happens next. It’s the only area of life where that is true. Except sometimes, it’s not . . . when the characters veer off in a direction all on their own.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
As a famous, best-selling author. I want to be the next Nora Roberts. No, seriously . . . don’t laugh. That’s my goal.
Have you always liked to write?
Yes. I got my first piece of feedback in the seventh grade from my English teacher, Miss Prather, who advised me: “You have an exceptional talent here. Don’t let it go to waste.”
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Never give up. If you love to write a particular kind of story, rest assured: There’s an audience out there who will love to read your writing. Also read, read, read. You can never read enough books to expand your own writing abilities.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I do read my reviews, and I’ve been blessed. Most have been good, and the few that do criticize show me where my writing could improve. I take the good with the bad—with grace.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
Formatting. Although with the help of some “cheat sheets” from a treasured author-friend, it’s not nearly as difficult as it was in the beginning.
What are you working on now?
I’ve begun work on the second Love at Lake George novel called “Anchor My Heart.” But my fan survey says that most want another Haunted Voices novel. Choices, choices.
Why did you choose to write in your genre? If you write in more than one, how do you balance them?
It’s tricky. I have so many ideas, and so little time. My dream is to retire and write full time.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It energizes me when it’s going well, exhausts me when I hit a block.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I belong to a WONDERFUL group called Marketing for Romance Writers. This Facebook group and forum is made up of some wonderful authors who are all talented, supportive, and inspirational.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
I already have John, It was my first published book called “Maternal Threads.” I have also written a book about my writing life called “The Road to Publication.”
Where can your fans find you and follow??
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview ❤️
You’re welcome, and we wish you much continued success. And, hey, a review of Spirits of the Heart is forthcoming. Stay tuned . . .
The Mysterious Book Report
June 15, 2018