Welcome Lucinda E Clarke
Author of several books in multiple genre. These include Lucinda’s memoir ‘Walking Over Eggshells’ and the ‘Amie’ series.
(Links to where books may be found are at the end of this interview.)
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am a very ordinary person who had the stuffing knocked out of her by an abusive mother, went on to marry a psychopath and was faced with some appalling and amazing events in life in 8 different countries. Somehow, I survived and lived to write the tale.
What first inspired you to write?
Reading Enid Blyton before I was old enough to go to school, I remember thinking ‘I could do this!’ I was in my mid 30s before I got the opportunity to write professionally and within two years I had given up my teaching job. Even now, after retirement, I get twitchy if I don’t write for a couple of days.
In what genre(s) do you prefer to write?
All my pre-book writing, that is the radio and TV scripts, wherever possible I wrote as comic dramas, on the premise you can teach best through edutainment. The memoirs were easy to write, the story was already there and I just had to make it fun. The novels were a whole new challenge. Could I write 110 thousand words, develop the characters and plot, keep up the suspense, a hectic pace and add in the twists and turns? If I accomplished it in book one could I keep it going throughout the series. From kind readers’ feedback I understand the answer is yes and that’s been very rewarding. The stupid thing is Amie has a very limited sense of humour – I have no idea why!
How/Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
Nowhere! A lot of my books are set in Africa, so I am drawing on real life experiences. But ideas just pop into my head when I least expect it, like in the shower, as I’m going to sleep, (and can’t remember it in the morning) an odd sentence overheard in a café, or on TV or radio and it rolls on from there.
Are you working on another book?
I published the 4th Amie book at the beginning of this month (October 2017) and just finished the second part of my free novella which will be for my newsletter readers only. (Part 1 is free on Amazon – myBook.to/WRS so people can see if they like the way I write. Now, I’m tossing up whether to return to Fairyland since Cinderella got her divorce, give Amie another heart attack, or drag out the children’s book I wrote and had partly broadcast 30 years ago.
If your books have required research: What do you consider the best resources?
The internet, but I’m on somebody’s watch list by now as I troll looking for guns, bombs, semtex, terrorists and FGM. If I was a famous name they would probably understand but the Gaurdia in Spain are tough!
Do you consider your books convey messages to readers?
Oh dear, I guess novels are not supposed to educate are they? Somehow I
can’t help it, maybe it’s the teacher in me. I’m very keen to share what I learned living for decades in Africa and the totally different mindset of many of its peoples. It’s not what is pushed out by the western media and those returning from a 2 day fact finding tour. I wanted to create a better understanding, plus, in my last book Amie Cut for Life I have highlighted the cruel practice of female genital mutilation. I want people to know that over 2 million women are in danger of this practice which has no religious or health benefits whatsoever. From the feedback from my first memoir Walking over Eggshells, I highlight Narcissism and I’ve had a lot of feedback from readers as I shared my experiences of recovering from mental abuse which lasted for over 60 years.
What advice would you give to authors who are just starting out?
Read, read then read some more. Then write, stop talking about writing and write. Then get an expert to edit it and make it the best it can be.
Biographies, autobiographies, memoirs: What advice would you give, about using real names and descriptions, to authors who write in these genre? I ask because many raise concerns about the issue.
I’ve heard it said that if you have nothing to hide, you don’t mind people writing about you. I’m not sure, but I changed all the names in my memoirs, published under a pen name and included in the front that the events were as I remembered them and might be viewed differently by other people in the story.
Do you self-edit or do you think a book should only be professionally edited?
Once upon a time I was paid to proof and edit a national magazine so I knew I could edit my own books. I couldn’t and I can’t. I cringe now when I look at the first edition of my first book. Fashions in writing change, reviewers can be brutal, and I can only urge writers to get someone very knowledgeable, more than one if necessary. But make sure, in getting your work grammatically correct that your voice is not lost. It’s your book and you have the final decision.
How you go about finding an editor?
The best way to find an editor is to ask around in the writing groups for suggestions. Then read a couple of books edited by those names to see if the style suits you. Don’t always go solely by price, more expensive is not always better. You can check out my answers here for typos, there’s bound to be one or two!
How do you go about marketing your books?
Nightmare time! I didn’t advertise at all for the first year and sold 35 copies. BookBub has to be king, and the follow on from your one day in the spotlight is amazing. I think awards can help and blog posts too, your own and as a guest. But, word of mouth is the more reliable long term source, whether it be through social media or face to face. I am on Facebook a lot, and Twitter most days and I keep meaning to dive into Pinterest, Linkedin and the rest of them – but there’s never enough time.
How important do you think reviews are?
Up to the first 100 I think reviews are important, after that not so much. Some really famous books have very few reviews. The more you get the lower the average because not everyone is going to like your book. At the back of every book I ask – no I grovel – to readers to write a review. There are site like Readers Favorite, or Literary Titan which will give you a (free or paid) review, but you can only post those under your book blurb.
Do you have a preferred genre for when you read?
I like spy stories, thrillers and books about corporate fraud and hierarchical infighting and family sagas that are not in the Chick Lit genre. I also adore historical books.
This is an age old question but one I consider of interest. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you like to have with you?
I would have to include War and Peace as that would keep me going for a while! Can I cheat and ask for the complete works of Jean Plaidy and the complete works of Harrison Ainsworth? The last author was a historical novelist writing over 200 years ago and I read ‘Old St Pauls’ when I was only nine years old and fell in love with history.
Please share with us links to where readers may obtain more information and insight into who you are.
Thank you Lucinda for sharing your knowledge and experience with us.
Three of Lucinda’s books have been reviewed in this website.
Click on cover image to read review.