Claire Fullerton is the author of “A Portal in Time” and “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” both from Vinspire Publishing. She is a four time, award winning writer and a multiple contributor to “Southern Writers Magazine,” “Celtic Life International” and “The Wild Geese.” Her work appears in five of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books. Claire hails from Memphis, TN. and now lives in Malibu, California. She has recently completed her third novel. And she’s our guest here today. 🙂
When did you know you wanted to be a writer, Claire?
I simply woke up to the fact that I am a writer! I think my writing career began with the practice of keeping a daily journal at a very young age. I am convinced this practice created my “writer’s voice” and taught me the art of word economy. I was encouraged when I was published in a poetry journal, and more still when the first short story I ever wrote was published online. But when an unusual chain of events led me to the attention of the editor of Malibu’s weekly newspaper, who offered me my own column, it gave me cause to consistently create one thousand word, personal essays, which taught me how to fine-tune my craft. My writing career grew from here because I simply continued writing and submitting.
There’s no substitute for sheer persistence and words written when it comes to learning our craft, especially with characterization. Who’s your favorite character you’ve written, and why?
Hailey Crossan in my book, “Dancing to an Irish Reel.” She is a twenty five year old American who leaves the record business in Los Angeles and moves to the western coast of Ireland, due to a job she is offered unexpectedly. I wanted to create a self-confident young woman who is smart, insightful, and fearless to the point that she can move to a foreign country without knowing a soul, yet knows full well she can make her own way in the different culture.
Can you tell us about your most recently published work?
Vinspire Publishing published “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” and I am happy to say wonderful things have come from this contemporary fiction book. An outfit named “Books Go Social” named it one of the top seven books to read during the 2015 holiday season, and the inimitable Ronovan Hester of “Literary World Interviews” named it the number one book of 2015. “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is written in the first person, in the voice of Hailey Crossan as she tells about the year she spent as an American outsider in rural Ireland. She works at The Galway Music Center and is surrounded by a handful of Irish friends, who help her navigate the social and cultural nuances of Ireland, as she is a stranger in a strange land. When she meets a regionally famous musician, it is her friends that help her decipher the challenge of this young lad, who has never been in love before. On one hand, this book sings the praises of Ireland, and on the other, it is a realistic look at romantic attraction between two people who come from different cultures, and therefore can’t quite seem to connect. I wanted to write about the uncertainty and ambiguity of new love because I don’t know anyone who hasn’t experienced this on some level, at one time or another.
That sounds like a theme that anyone can relate to. Do you have any basic writing philosophy or tips for us?
Because I write contemporary fiction, meaning fiction that is just that, as opposed to a specific genre, I can tell you that it’s important to know you have a good story, and to tell it with the truth as you see it. If you begin with the understanding that you have a good story, then it is wise to ascertain the point of the story, along with its beginning, middle and end. You have to know what you are trying to say going into the project, perhaps take notes beforehand on the characters, the plot, the theme, arc, and even the moral of the story, which I think should be gently suggested. I like the idea of letting the reader get something from the story without hitting them over the head with a point. Readers are insightful, intuitive people, and the best gift a writer can offer to a reader is the opportunity to glean an entire experience, wherein they consider something new.
That’s extremely respectful, and I heartily agree. I’ve read quotes from famous authors who say much the same thing. Who are your writing heroes and why?
I will name one writing hero: Pat Conroy, who wrote “The Prince of Tides,” “The Great Santini,” and “South of Broad,” to name a few in his earth-shattering career. I have always been a voracious reader, and I have already mentioned that long ago I woke up to the fact that I am a writer, but what reading Conroy did for me was give me permission to take the colossal risk of laying my soul bare for the purposes of calling life exactly as I see it, yet somehow finding the beauty and humanity in this business of living. Conroy showed me that a writer can turn life’s confusion and small tragedies into an art that lets people off the hook of their own pain and confusion. Reading this world-class Southern writer told me that a writer must be a master of language, that the bigger their arsenal of vocabulary, the better armed they are to communicate. Pat Conroy has never written a book where he didn’t have something profound to say as well as the means to say it. His books are lyrical, sensitive, disarmingly honest, and he is the kind of writer that holds up a mirror in the name of life itself and tells us it’s okay to be human, even when we feel we are tripping through life.
What’s the best part of being a writer?
For me, it’s all about having a forum in which to communicate. Because I favor the first person, it’s like talking aloud in an attempt at comparing notes with my readers. The thrill for me is hearing back from readers!
Thanks for visiting with us, today, Claire. You can find out more here: http://www.clairefullerton.com