We’re welcoming Wendy Clarke today author of twisty psychological thrillers to the blog.
Hi Wendy! Tell me a bit about you and your latest work.
I’m Wendy and although a lot of people know me for my short magazine fiction, I now write novels. My debut psychological thriller, What She Saw, was published in May by Bookouture —here’s a little bit about it.
Twelve years ago, Leona’s life was ruined by a woman called Ria. Now she’s scared the same thing is going to happen again.
Recently, despite having a successful business, a loving husband and two children, life in the Lakeland village where Leona’s settled has become claustrophobic. Not only that but her thoughts keep returning to her old life. She misses the girl she once was but knows she can never go back… not after what Ria did. In desperation, she turns to a counsellor, hoping she can help her come to terms with the past and the part Ria played in it.
Meanwhile, Leona’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Beth, is fighting her own demons. When she learns the devastating truth her mother’s been keeping from her, her actions unleash a chain of events that could put them all in danger.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Friendly, enthusiastic, claustrophobic
How would you Twitter pitch your novel?
How far would you go to keep your daughter safe? #WhatSheSaw
What are your top 3 tips for aspiring writers?
Find your own voice. You are unique and your writing should be too. If you write what you would love to read, then you are halfway there.
Learn to go easy on yourself. If there are other things that have to be done or you’re under the weather, don’t feel guilty. Accept that you won’t be writing that day and try not to worry about it. Likewise, if it’s a day when the words just won’t come. Don’t force them. Go for a walk, bake a cake, listen to some music or read a book. Sometimes it’s all you need to recharge those writing batteries.
Grow a thick skin – it’s inevitable that at some point you will face disappointment or rejection. You can’t please everyone all of the time and when you read a bad review or have your work turned down, remember that there will also be days of delight and reward. It’s what makes this job so hard – but also so rewarding.
Are you a panster or plotter?
When I was writing short fiction for magazines, I was a total pantster but now I write novels, I’ve learnt that it pays off to have, at the very least, a basic plan.
What does success look like to you?
Success to me is a series of little milestones: seeing my first story published in a magazine, writing my first serial, completing a novel, finding a publisher, seeing my novel in my local bookshop, having my words read by people I don’t know. Most importantly – success is continuing to enjoy the whole writing journey.
How do you choose your character names?
I hate choosing character names. Invariably, I end up with three starting with the same initial! I usually resort to a baby name app I have on my phone.
Do you ever Google yourself?
I have done but stopped when I found out I had made a ‘love tape’(whatever that is) and was dead. I haven’t done it since!
What do you do when you get stuck with your writing?
I usually take the dog for a walk or think of an excuse to go into the village. I know from experience that there’s no point in forcing the words if they won’t come.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Approximately seven months.
What’s your main weakness as a writer eg.SPaG, continuity etc?
I have real problems with time lines… and changing people’s names halfway through my work.
What do you find hardest/easiest about writing?
I find the hardest thing about writing is getting started. Just the thought of the blank screen sends shivers down my spine! I’ll do anything rather than write those first words! It’s also hard to switch off the little voice in my head that whispers ‘You are an impostor – you shouldn’t be writing’.
The easiest thing about writing is the writing itself! Once I’ve made that difficult start, the words tend to flow quite easily, I get carried away by the story and remember why I love doing it.
Describe your writing process in 3 words.
Procrastinate, write, smile.
If your book/one of your books got made into a film, who would play the main roles?
This is a hard one as I’m so terrible at remembering actors’ names! I think Jodie Whittaker would make a good Leona. I’m not sure about Beth and Scott so it will be a nice surprise when the film comes out (in my dreams).
What’s been your biggest learning curve?
Definitely the whole book publication process. I was so naïve and had no idea just how much went into producing a book. Before writing What She Saw, I didn’t know the difference between a structural, line and copy edit. Having just been through the process for a second time with my next thriller, I certainly do now!
Do you prefer pen and paper, or is everything on the computer?
Planning and research notes are done by hand in a notebook but the novel itself is written straight onto the computer.
Who’s your favourite author and why?
For consistency in their genre, my favourite author is Lisa Jewell. I love everything about her writing: the plots, the amount of description, the twists… everything! When someone likened my writing to hers, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!
What’s your favourite book?
My favourite book is The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber.
How do you relax?
I’m a keen dancer and any sort of dancing will help take my mind off things if I’ve had a difficult day. Otherwise, walking or watching a good film with a glass of wine does the trick.
And now for some silly questions just for fun…
Tea or coffee?
Am I allowed both?
Beer or wine?
Chips or curly fries?
Puppies or kittens?
Summer or winter?
Winter – when the sky is blue and you can wrap up warm.
How far would you go to keep your daughter safe?
Everyone knows Leona would do anything for her daughter, Beth: she moved to Church Langdon to send Beth to the best school, built a business to support them and found the perfect little cottage to call home. They hike together, shop together, share their hopes and fears. It’s the relationship every mother dreams of.
But Leona never talks about why they moved to the Lake District.
She’s never told Beth anything about her father.
She says Beth should never speak to strangers. She says Beth doesn’t need friends.
She’s only trying to protect her daughter.
But sometimes the person closest to you is the person you shouldn’t trust.
Wendy Clarke started her career writing short fiction and serials for national women’s magazines. After having over three hundred short stories published, she progressed to writing novels. With a degree in psychology, and intrigued with how the human mind can affect behaviour, it was inevitable that she would eventually want to explore her darker side.
What She Saw is her debut psychological thriller, published by Bookouture, with a second coming out in August 2019.
In her previous life, Wendy has published three collections of short stories and has been a short story judge for the Chiltern Writers Group, Nottingham Writers Group and The Society of Women Writers and journalists.
Wendy lives with her husband, cat and step-dog in Sussex and when not writing is usually dancing, singing or watching any programme that involves food!
Apple Books: https://apple.co/2t1mQfv
It’s been so fab to have you on the blog today, Wendy. Thanks so much for joining us! And you if, dear reader, love psychological thrillers then make sure you grab a copy!