Some writers are simply too good to miss. I believe that UK sensation Claire Riley falls under that category. She has a way of grabbing hold early and making you wish she would never let go. She was kind enough to submit to a series of questions and I am thrilled to share her with you here and now. Just type her name into Amazon and start grabbing the Odium books.
Do you do anything special when you finish a book and it is finally released?
Claire – Other than stare into space for half an hour in wonder? Not really. I’m normally already thinking about the next book by the time I’m finishing up the current one. I do tend to mourn the characters for a while though. It’s tough—to let go of them. To a writer at least, they are real people, with feelings and a history, and to just let them go can be really hard.
Describe a “typical” day in your home to help enhance or dispel the “glamorous” life of an author.
Claire – Oh it is SO glamorous!
I get up around 7am, wake my three kids up (5, 9, and 11) get the youngest one dressed and then make breakfast for everyone. I then get them all to school and come home and walk the dog. Then I tidy the house (wash the dishes, do some laundry, vacuum, make the beds, clean the sinks in the bathroom (toothpaste) pick up the clothes, fold the laundry, blah-blah-blah) then I finally make myself some breakfast and sit down at my laptop.
I tend to write between 11-3pm every day, barring the weekends, and most days I miss lunch because I’m so engrossed in writing. I mostly write in silence – not tv in the background, or music. It’s the best way for me to fully immerse myself in the words. The only time I have music on is if I’m stuck at a particularly difficult scene. Then I try to find an angry song (fighting scene) or a sad song (death of a character) etc., etc.
By 3:15pm it’s time to walk to school and pick the kids up. I get back and help them with homework for an hour and then fix dinner for everyone. I tidy up after dinner, make the dog’s dinner (He’s a very old Springer Spaniel), and then my husband gets in from work.
While he’s eating, I bathe or shower the kids, get them in their pj’s and then we both put them to bed.
It’s normally around 8-8:30pm by this time, and I tend to switch my laptop back on and either write for another couple of hours or respond to emails and do some marketing for my books.
Me and my husband usually get to sit down together for an hour each evening before we’re both ready to fall asleep.
So, as you can see, it is indeed glamorous and exciting! Haha
What led you to write horror?
Claire – what led me to breathe? The life running through my veins.
I’ve always written horror. From being a teenager I write stories that would curl your toes and creep you out. I’m surprised my parents were not more worried to be honest haha! I actually read almost any genre, so I do try to move through other genres as well at times; it all really depends on the story. But horror is where my heart is, and no matter how far I stray, I always come back to it.
So, it is time to take a peek behind the curtain if you will indulge me. Let’s start with the characters you create. How much of yourself becomes woven into your characters? Do you use friends and family as archetypes?
Claire – I never use people I know, but I do have some characters which are based on some of my readers. I got them to fill in survival questionnaires and then built a character around them. This was way back when I wrote the first Odium book. I still try to do that to some degree now, as the thing for me with my Odium series is that I want REAL reactions. REAL decision making. So if a character responds to a situation, it’s something that the reader can really connect with, because yes! This is what they would do too.
Some characters, though, they are purely fictional. I’ll see the character in my head and build a personality around them. These tend to take a lot longer for me to create as it’s building a person up from nothing.
As for myself, I try to keep my personality out of my characters. But I can say that Nina (from my Odium series) has my sarcastic sense of humour, so I guess I didn’t try very hard not to indulge myself with that one 😉
Who are some of your favourite Indie writers? If you could work in a collaborative effort with one, who would it be and what would the basis of the story be about?
Claire – I’m actually hoping to write a novel with one of my favourite Indies next year – Eli Constant. I’ve been following her since we both started out, and her words always burrow deep inside me, making her stories stick with me for months afterwards.
We’ve talked over writing together for quite a while, and have decided 2016 is definitely the year for it. At least if we can both find time in our busy schedules!
As for genre/basis, it would be apocalyptic of some sort, though not zombies. We both love apocalyptic and dystopian settings, and I think our story would flourish with something that we’re both passionate about.
The Indie scene has been transforming over the years. Do you think that it is becoming stronger; or, do you believe that it is beginning to wane? Do you see its supportive nature starting to decline into an every man and woman for themselves entity?
Claire – No, I still see it as a very supportive network. Which is good, because that’s what makes Indie publishing work so well. In fact, I think it’s the only way it can continue.
Indie’s don’t have the power of traditional marketing or traditional bookshops and such, and so our very best marketing tool is EACHOTHER. I think mid-list Indie’s need to keep setting the game cards for newer writers, and helping them to develop their brands, and in time, the newer authors will become the mid-list authors and set the theme for the next generation of writers. It’s a loop. And any break in that chain will destroy the power that we have.
What is your current WIP about? Title, and release time frame?
Claire – This is actually very difficult for me to answer. Currently I’m working on several novels at once. Some are for my agent to try and sell, and some are just for me to sell independently. My long term goal is to become a hybrid author as I think it has the best of both worlds.
So, back to your question. I’ll talk about some of my self-publishing books. I’m currently writing a book called The Wicked Good. It’s a standalone zompoc book about a man travelling across America surviving. Yeah yeah, blah blah, you’ve heard it all before. Well, not only is there a HUGE twist at the end, but the character is also a bad guy. He doesn’t try and be good, in fact he embraces his very evil twisted side, and there is no redemption for him.
The book WILL NOT be for the faint hearted, and there are times that I have had to walk away from the story because it’s become so dark. So if you have a twisted soul, I think that you will enjoy it. It should be releasing mid 2016.
I’m also writing a couple of thriller suspense novels which I’m thoroughly enjoying and has been a nice change in pace for me, along with the fourth book in my ODIUM Dead Saga series, which of course is where my heart always comes back to.
Have you explored the realm of audio books with your work yet? Do you see that as the next frontier much like ebooks were just a few short years ago?
Claire – I have most of my work in audio actually. All barring the last novella and the third book in my Dead Saga series are over on Audible and my vampire series is up there, along with my Odium Origins novellas.
Though I will say that I have noticed the pace for wanting audiobooks has slowed dramatically over the past year. But then again, speaking to my other writer friends, there has been a noticeable decline across all genres and all platforms for books, whether it be audio, ebook or paperback. I honestly think 2016/2017 will see some huge changes in the market. It’s a worrying prospect and yet I’m still excited to see what happens.
So no, I think audiobooks picked up some steam in 2014 but then the traction for them slowed way down in 2015. I hope it picks back up though because I love listening to my words come alive to someone’s voice.
You are a writer in the horror genre; it can be a scary and nasty place that deals with touchy subject matter. Do you think that society as a whole has actually become too over-sensitive? I am not saying that the old Bugs Bunny cartoons did not do a bit of stereotyping that might be inappropriate today, but does it seem like we have reached a point where there is too much finger pointing? Or do writers (and comedians and reality show contestants) just need to change for a kinder and gentler world?
Claire – No, quite the opposite to be honest. I think a lot of new horror works on the whole shock factor. Blood and gore for the sake of it. Seeing how low they can take their characters, what new levels they can sink them too. And readers seem to love that.
Personally, I’m a lover of old school horror, where it wasn’t just about the blood and gore, or about the cruellest way to kill someone, but about the psychological aspect of horror. About the mind games, and the twists and turns.
Personally, I would like to see it go back to that, because I can’t see what could possibly come after so much darkness and gore. What new level of horror could grow out of the hell that we create? I guess that’s our job to write and see, huh?
Is your spouse or significant other involved in your work in any way (promotion, editing, sounding board)?
Claire – Not really haha. Occasionally I’ll bounce ideas off of him, but mostly it’s all on my shoulders. He works really long hours and doesn’t read or watch horror unless I make him, so he doesn’t have much knowledge on the subject.
What would you think your spouse or other cohabitating entity would say is the hardest part about being married to a writer?
Claire – So, I wrote my answer down and then I asked him this question, because I wanted to know if I was right, and I was.
When I’m deep in a story, I will write at every spare moment I can get, and if I’m not writing, I’m plotting and I’m not really ‘here’.
So my husband will watch the tv, and fall asleep, only to be woken up by me at midnight or 1am because I’ve not realised the time. Whoops!
How important do you believe reviews are to getting your work noticed, and do you have any advice for others trying to get their work reviewed?
Claire – I don’t think reviews are as important as they used to be. Readers have become much better at picking up a book off its own merit. Though I will say, when first releasing, I would suggest having around ten reviews from readers/bloggers etc ready to go up on release day. I believe this does help make your book stand out.
As for advice, all I would suggest is building up relationships with bloggers, or other authors (though most authors are too busy to read and review in time, and of course it can be awkward if they don’t favour your book as a five star) so, build up relationships well I advance, get a group of beta readers to help support you, and just go for it.
I always appreciate my reviews, every single one of them, but after the first month I don’t actively seek them out anymore. Though I still check every day to see if I have any new ones. Old habits die hard!
Any parting words of general writing advice?
Claire – When I first started out, I was told to write 2k a day and give myself 3 years to make or break it. I stuck to those words, and almost five years on, I still stick to them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Claire C. Riley is a USA Today and International bestselling author. She is also a bestselling British horror writer and an Amazon top 100 bestseller.
Her work is best described as the modernization of classic, old-school horror. She fuses multi-genre elements to develop storylines that pay homage to cult classics while still feeling fresh and cutting edge. She writes characters that are realistic, and kills them without mercy. Claire lives in the United Kingdom with her husband, three daughters, and one scruffy dog.
Odium The Dead Saga Series (3 books),
Odium Origins Series (3 books),
Limerence (The Obsession Series) (2 books),
Thicker than Blood series (2 books),
& Shut Up & Kiss me,
Plus much more.
‘She writes characters that are realistic and then kills them without mercy’ – Eli Constant author of Z-Children, Dead Trees, Mastic and much more.