Meet The Author Monday – Claire Buss

This week on Meet the Author Monday, we have Claire Buss, whose dystopian debut, “The Gaia Effect” was launched in December of 2016. As usual, we will put my comments/questions in BLUE and Claire will be in GREEN.

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Thanks for stopping in to chat with me today, Claire. Congratulations on your first novel. I wish you all the best with it. I understand you are a voracious reader. When did that love affair start for you?
I can’t remember not ever being a reader. It’s not something anyone in my family really does but I think being an only child until my late teens meant that I found adventure and friends in books. I devoured all the usual childhood classics especially things like the Famous Five, Secret Seven, Swallows & Amazons. I tore through the Redwall series by Brian Jacques and with my library card clutched in hand began to explore the sci fi and fantasy section of my library starting off with writers like Greg Bear & Piers Anthony. I had read classics like Dickens, Thackery & Shakespeare before I started secondary school and my English Lit teacher used to let me read my own books within the open set book as he knew that a) I’d already read it and b) I could answer intelligently about it. I still read as much as I possibly can, I’m a member of a real life and online bookclub as well as being a very healthy Goodreads member. I review everything I’ve read and I’m shooting for a goal of 100 books this year. So far I’ve clocked 12. I’m currently reading From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming, Lock In by John Scalzi, Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie, Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett, Burmese Days by George Orwell, Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe and LOTR by Tolkein with my little boy at bedtime. I love reading new stories, experiencing twists, happy moments, loss, meeting new characters, gasping out loud at events and I even like it when a book makes me cry my eyes out. You could say they are a passion of mine.

Very eclectic To Be Read pile there. What genre excites you the most?
Favourite genre to read is Sci Fi & Fantasy especially as that has such a huge umbrella and is spilling over into contemporary fiction which is fantastic. I also quite like a historical novel from time to time but I will read anything.

A kindred spirit. When I saw the description of your debut novel I had a feeling we had a lot in common. What brought you across the line from avid reader to writer?
I wrote a lot as a child, even ripping off LOTR as I’m sure many fantasy writers have. Then life got in the way and I stopped. In 2014 I walked past my library and noticed a poster about a writing workshop they were holding, I tried to get a place but it was full. Then about a week later I got an email saying I had a place at a second, overspill event due to the popularity of the course. One of the things the library was using the course for was to promote a writing competition called Pen to Print. I entered in 2015 and came second with my novel The Gaia Effect and part of the prize was to have your book published by New Generation Publishing. That happened in December 2016 and now I am currently editing a second book. Writing makes me happy and frustrates me and scares me but I love it.

I think you are right, fantasy authors all owe so much to Tolkein. He was a master of world creation. What an amazing way to get started with that workshop turning into a publishing contract. Dystopian is a popular sub-genre right now, is this something you are sticking with? Do you see yourself branching out?
Not yet – my first book is dystopian, post apocalyptic and sort of sci-fi ish but only because it’s set 200 yrs in the future with some advanced technologies. My second book, The Rose Thief, is humourous fantasy. I have also started working on a book about my book club and a short story collection called Tales from Suburbia. I’m currently flexing my creative muscles and dabbling at will.

So, we know you got your start with the contest at your local library, but tell us about your journey and where you are headed.
My novel The Gaia Effect is self published via New Generation Publishing. The Rose Thief will probably be e-booked using KDP I expect although I will go through the literary agent hoopla because you never know right? I did have some very positive no thank-yous for TGE. I blog regularly and have done for about five years and I’ve just started branching out into playwriting – just short ten minute plays atm but I am working on a one-act play currently.

Quite the repertoire of talents you are cultivating. When you aren’t pursuing your many projects, what do you do?
I am a stay-at-home mum looking after my hubby who is a policeman, our little boy (3.5) and step-kids at the weekend. My hobbies include reading, baking, occasionally running when the baking gets too much, watching sci fi/fantasy TV shows & movies, and crosstitching.

Sounds like you have enough to keep you busy even without writing. I do want to take a moment to ask you to pass along my thanks to your husband for his service as a police officer. I am a big supporter of those who dedicate their lives to keeping us safe. I know you had another story you wanted to share with my readers, so I will let you get to it.
I got really scared when my first 10-min play got recorded and added to YouTube because I based the characters on people I knew. I suddenly thought what if they notice, come after me and lynch me??? Then I realised that I am the only person who knows who my characters are based on and provided I don’t do a like-for-like comparison no-one will ever be the wiser. So now I get to kill off anyone I don’t like – brilliant! But seriously, as a writer I can only base my stories around things I either know about or can imagine and that will always be based on and affected by the people in my life and their adventures so I’ll never be stuck for an idea.

That is one of the greatest perks of being a writer, getting to exact revenge on anyone through fiction. Probably safer and easier than any of the alternatives. Thank you again for stopping by Claire. If anyone wants to get more information on Claire and her varied projects, which I highly recommend, you can find her at the following links.

Website
Facebook
Twitter @grasshopper2407
Goodreads

And if any authors out there reading this want to be featured on Meet The Author Monday, You can CLICK HERE for more information.

On This Day – March 24th

Though his birthday is 2 days away my Gentle Readers, today belongs to Tennessee Williams. His highly successful and Pulitzer Prize winning play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, opened on this day in 1955 in New York City.
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Tennessee Williams was a child of an abusive traveling salesman and an overly controlling mother. It is believed he used his family, especially his mother and beloved sister Rose, as the basis for characters in multiple works.

Williams, though alcoholism and drug use eventually took his life, was a picture of overcoming obstacles in order to succeed. Though he was pulled from school to work for his demanding and demeaning father, Williams would return to school, eventually earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from University of Iowa in 1938. He took great care of his mentally ill sister Rose, especially after her disastrous lobotomy administered as a cure for her schizophrenia.

In Williams we learn that you can overcome any obstacle, but beware the demons you allow entry into your heart. Williams went from being a favored punching bag of his father, to a very successful playwright. It is unfortunate that his later years would be claimed by alcohol and drugs.

Seek to overcome the doubts, naysayers, and those holding you back from your dreams my Gentle Readers. Just take care that you do not fall victim to what you were trying to overcome. Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.

On This Day – March 19th

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Today my Gentle Readers, we learn a lesson from the great French playwright and novelist, Honoré de Balzac. It was on this day in 1842 that Balzac’s play Les Ressources de Quinola opened to an empty house due to a failed publicity stunt. It seems that in his genius, Balzac told people opening night was sold out in order to create buzz about the performance. Due to this, all of his fans stayed home.

I can only imagine the shame and embarrassment Balzac must have felt when the curtain went up on what should have been a momentous night for him. Although, from what I have read of his many failed business ventures, maybe he was used to that kind of thing. Can any of you imagine what it must have been like to go through this? Thinking you had a perfect marketing ploy for it to completely blow up in your face?

I think this is how a lot of us feel when we stake out on a creative adventure. I know this feeling that I would “open to an empty house” is part of why I took so long to begin sharing my work with the world. While a few of my endeavors have fallen flat, there has been some very positive reviews of my work as well. Finding strength in the constructive criticism seems to be the hardest part of fighting off doubt.

I vote we take a page out of Balzac’s book my Gentle Readers and go for it all. Don’t let the naysayers or past failures stop you from trying new things or chasing your dreams. Because, in the end, what are we left with but our memories and experiences? Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.