Today we have a special treat–an interview with my good friend Claire L. Fishback, whose novel, THE BLOOD OF SEVEN, is a Kindle Scout Campaign nominee. That’s her above, trying to kill me at THE DROWNING GAME release party. Here’s the deal, in Claire’s own words:
LSH: What is your favorite childhood book?
CLF: I had quite a few favorite books when I was a kid. The ones that come to mind are MR. GUMPY’S OUTING and JUMANJI. I loved JUMANJI because of the illustrations. I’ve always been a visual kind of person, so I really loved books with lots of pictures, and really cool, detailed illustrations, like JUMANJI. Both books also had animals in them. I’ve always been an animal lover! In fact, when I started writing at age six, I illustrated my own stories. They were ALWAYS about animals! I still have the one about the chipmunk and squirrel who are pen pals.
LSH: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
CLF: I would write even more. I wouldn’t let people who didn’t believe in me stop me. I would share my work with more people, or seek more guidance and feedback from people outside of my family. I would take more classes. Seek out other writers to hang out with. Mostly just keep writing. I think I had a few years in high school in which I didn’t write much. Then I took a creative writing class and my passion for it reignited. Same thing happened in my super early twenties when I went to art school in Seattle. I ended up dropping out of ART SCHOOL, for Pete’s sake, to pursue my love of writing.
LSH: What are your favorite literary journals?
CLF: I’m not sure if this qualifies as a “literary journal,” probably not, but I read Writer’s Digest religiously. Just recently I went through a stack of about fifty-plus copies and tore out all my favorite articles to put in a binder.
LSH: What is your writing superpower?
CLF: I’ve been told I write good description, but I’ve also been told I don’t write enough description, haha! I would say dialogue. People usually comment on how natural my dialogue sounds. When I write, I envision the story as a movie playing out in my head. I think that’s how/why I get the dialogue down pretty well.
LSH: What is your writing Kryptonite?
CLF: Emotions. For being a highly emotional person, I sure as heck don’t write it very well! I usually go in after the first draft and add emotion and exposition to get the right feelings across. I think I’ve gotten better at it during first draft, but I know it still needs work. My critique partner, Deirdre Byerly, is really good at emotion in her work.
LSH: What does literary success look like to you?
CLF: Literary success to me would be seeing my book on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. Being somewhere on some bestseller list wouldn’t hurt the dream either. <smile>
LSH: What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
CLF: When I was in Key West a few years ago, I went to Hemingway’s house and hung out at his favorite bar and drank his favorite drink. That’s the only thing I’ve really done from a “literary pilgrimage” perspective. It was fun, even though I felt like a poser. Confession: I haven’t read any Hemingway EVER.
LSH: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
CLF: I think all authors hide bits of themselves in their work. That’s the fun of writing, isn’t it? To hide behind characters and reveal the deepest darkest parts of ourselves that even we are afraid to admit belong to our psyche? Well, that’s the fun of it for me. I can say, in THE BLOOD OF SEVEN, I relate a lot more to Teresa than to Ann. I think in the new book I’m working on, there are a lot more things about myself and my past that are sort of hidden. I think the only person who might recognize that would be my twin sister, which is apropos since the story is basically about the strength of the twin bond.
LSH: What was your hardest scene to write?
CLF: The hardest scene to write in THE BLOOD OF SEVEN was the climax. I had to blend setting, characters, and action without losing the momentum of the plot, and keeping it all interesting and exciting and not losing the reader with extraneous details, but making sure they are grounded in the scene… whew… it was tough.
LSH: What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
CLF: I don’t know if this novel is under-appreciated, but I think it might be not well known. I really loved HOUSE OF LEAVES by Mark Z. Danielewski. A lot of people consider it horror, but at its core, it is a love story about these two people who fall out of love, and then sort of rescue each other. I mean, it is super creepy at times, too. Danielewski is the musical artist Poe’s brother. Her album HAUNTED has quite a few nods to her brother’s novel. I listened to HAUNTED in my car the entire time I read HOUSE OF LEAVES. I feel like, because of that, it had a bigger impact. I felt changed by that book. I can’t explain it any further than that. It’s like the book got under my skin and rearranged my thoughts and beliefs about what a novel should and could be. The format of HOUSE OF LEAVES is ridiculous, but it works because one of the main things in the book is this house that has larger dimensions on the inside than the outside. It’s crazy! I loved it.
LSH: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
CLF: Don’t go down that staircase! NOOOO!!!! Haha, just kidding. I would tell my young self to not let people get you down. There was a time in high school when I was working on this story that I thought was really cool, but has since been done over and over, about this archeologist who happens upon some cursed artifact or something and is possessed by it… I told my friends about it and one of them really put me down. I don’t remember what he said, I just remember how bad it hurt. I actually gave up on the idea right after that. I recently found some notes on the story. Maybe I’ll tackle it again in the future and put a new twist on it or something. Anyway, I would tell Young Claire to keep writing no matter what anyone says. I had a lot of support, sure, but it’s always the bad that tarnishes things, you know?