Claire Kingsley and I met via Facebook when a reader pal messaged me saying she thought I would be the right kind of writer friend for her friend Claire. And boom! A commiserating, sisterly writer bond was born. We both write romance full time, both love the beach, both of us have hubbies who are unbelievably handsome and supportive. I mean, we’re basically the same person.
Except Claire gets way more done in a day than I do. She homeschools her three kids and whips out high quality, funny, sweet, hot reads faster than I can drag my ass out of bed in the morning.
Lucy: Give us a nutshell view of your life (family, hobbies, etc).
Claire: My life is a little bit crazy. I’m married and I homeschool my three kids. That keeps me super busy—but it’s good busy. Other than that, I love to read (although I don’t make time for enough of it), and I’m a fan of geeky stuff like Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and superhero/comic book movies.
Lucy: What kind of an effect did publishing your first book have on you?
Claire: That was a badass moment. I decided I wanted to be a writer a long time ago, but I spent a lot of years focused on other things (having babies not the least among them). I wasn’t sure I was good enough to even finish an entire novel, and I carried that fear around with me for a long time. So when I not only finished my first novel, but went through the entire feedback, revisions, editing, etc. and then publishing process, it was amazing. It was like I’d kicked that doubt to the curb and proved I could actually do it.
Lucy: What does your writing process look like? How much swearing is involved?
Claire: All the swearing.
My process is messy. I start with brainstorming and lots of note taking. I have a few people I like to brainstorm with; kicking around ideas with another person is really helpful for me. I figure out who the characters are, what sort of backstory they have, the theme(s) I want to explore, the sources of tension and conflict, and so forth. Then I start outlining actual scenes/chapters. Usually I get partway done with the outline and start writing. From there, I go back and forth between writing and planning/outlining. Sometimes I write stuff completely out of order, simply because I have ideas in my head and I want to get them out. I’ve been known to write endings before I’ve even gotten to the middle of a story. Or I’ll write a little bit of dialogue for a scene and go back to it later. It’s very non-linear, but somehow it seems to come together at the end.
Lucy: What’s one thing that you think you should do but don’t/aren’t/never will?
Claire: This is a hard question! I can’t think of anything big or important. For the most part, I think I should be better about creating a schedule for work/family/life, but I’m bad at routines and schedules, so I probably won’t.
Lucy: A case of writer’s block hits. What do you do?
Claire: Depends. Writer’s block usually means one of two things for me. Either the story or scene is broken and I need to figure out why, or I’m getting burnt out.
If it’s a story issue (this is usually why I get stuck), I have to spend some time figuring out what went wrong. If there’s something that doesn’t work in the story, I can feel it. Maybe there’s a piece that’s inconsistent, maybe I’m going off on a tangent that doesn’t work, or maybe it’s just boring because I haven’t figured out how a particular element moves the story forward. I’ll talk it out with one of my brainstorming people. Sometimes just explaining that part of the story to another person is enough for me to figure out what’s not working. If not, usually pinging ideas back and forth will help me fix what’s broken.
If I’m burnt out, then I just need a break. I tend to write every day and I don’t take days off very often. Usually that’s fine—I love writing and I get twitchy when I don’t. But there are times when my brain gives me a big, fat NOPE and I need to give myself permission to take a real break.
If I’m only a little burnt out—fatigued, maybe—changing scenery helps a lot. If I’m at my desk, I’ll take my laptop to another room. Sometimes I’ll go for a drive by myself—listen to music and clear my head. That kind of thing.
Lucy: What’s the biggest adrenaline rush you’ve ever had?
Claire: Probably downhill mountain biking. My husband likes to do crazy stuff like that. We went to Stevens Pass (ski area in Washington) in the summer and rode the ski lift up, then biked down. That was intense.
Lucy: If you weren’t a writer, what else could you see yourself doing?
Claire: At this point in my life, if I wasn’t a writer, I don’t think I’d have a different outside job. I’d still be staying home with my kids (and theoretically have actual free time, LOL). Other than that, I honestly don’t know what else I’d do. I had a corporate-type career before I had kids, but that feels like a lifetime ago, and it’s not something I’d go back to. I think if I didn’t write, all that spacey daydreaming I do would just go to waste.
Lucy: What do you admire most about your hubby?
Claire: I love how he’s unapologetically himself. He doesn’t spend a lot of time or energy worrying about what other people think. He is who he is, he likes what he likes, and other people’s opinions don’t matter to him very much.
He’s also very random and spontaneous. I’m one of those people who needs to mull things over (sometimes too much—I’m a terrible overthinker). But he can just make decisions on the fly and roll with it. He keeps life fun.
Lucy: Favorite trope in a romance novel?
Claire: That’s a tough one. Friends to lovers is a big favorite. I love it when one of the characters (the hero, especially) is crazy about the other, but thinks they can’t be together. There’s so much angst in that type of unrequited love—spending time together, having to watch them date other people. When it’s done well, the payoff when they make it to their HEA can be really rewarding.
I love the opposite too—enemies to lovers. There’s so much room for the characters and the relationship to grow when they start out hating each other.
Lucy: What drives you insane and/or murders your soul?
Claire: When people are shitty to each other. Life is hard enough without making things difficult for other people. I like to take the immortal advice of Bill and Ted to heart: be excellent to each other.
Claire’s newest release, Hot Single Dad, is a swoon-worthy standalone that you should grab immediately!
“I loved this book from the beginning. I couldn’t get enough. This is literally one of my all time favorite books now.” ~ Sassy Southern Book Blog