Welcome back for another chat in our ongoing author interview series. Today, we have Claire Fullerton joining us from California.
Welcome Clair. Mind getting things started with a little about yourself, and where you hail from?
- I am originally from Memphis, Tennessee, but now live in Malibu, California.
- I’m proud to say I had the unique experience of growing up in Memphis, which is considered the heart of the Delta in the American Deep South. It is a city along the bluffs of the Mississippi River and it is rich in cultural heritage, as well as known for being the home of the Blues. I’ve lived in Southern California for the past twenty years, with the exception of the year I lived on the western coast of Ireland, which I absolutely loved! I am married, have step children, two German shepherds and a black cat. I worked on-air in radio in Memphis for nine years, then moved to California to work in the music business, which was incredibly lively. I have a background in ballet, and Pilates, and taught class on the side for 8 years. Now I am a full-time writer with many irons in the fire, but I continue to keep up with dance.
Wow, that is a bit of a change – from the music industry to writing. How (or why) did you make the switch?
- I felt compelled to keep a journal from a very young age; I’m convinced the practice cultivated my interest in writing as well as helped to hone the craft. I honestly feel that writing is in my nature as part of my make-up. I think many writers feel this way. I began writing poetry because I’ve always had a love affair with words and the construction of word cadences and form. And, I’ve always felt compelled to point out or share what I experience as the magic of the little things in life that many take for granted, such as seemingly inconsequential daily events, ordinary happenings that are actually extraordinary, the beauty of how people relate to each other in gestures of kindness or sympathy. These things move me, so I feel compelled to write about them!
- From keeping a journal and from listening to my mother, who was a natural born story teller with more Southern, engaging charm than I can describe! My mother was a true Southern Belle from an era long gone by.
- [An example:] My husband and I checked into an historic hotel, built in 1902 in California’s Carmel-by-the-Sea. As my husband checked us in, my eyes scanned the opulent lobby with its ornate décor, sandstone floor, and stain glass windows. I kept thinking once upon a time, this must have been somebody’s house! I couldn’t shake the feeling that the hotel was haunted, so I began to imagine a backstory to the hotel. I imagined what it must have been like to live in the setting, which is by the sea on the misty Monterey Peninsula. The story was so vivid to me that it kept me up all night! I tapped my husband on the shoulder at 2:00 in the morning to report I couldn’t sleep because the hotel was so haunted. This was the start of my first novel, “A Portal in Time.” The book is considered a paranormal mystery, and it is, but it is also so much more!
Have you always considered yourself a writer?
- I have always considered myself a writer. My career was achieved in stages that started with my own weekly column in Malibu’s newspaper, led to magazine publications, multiple publications in the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series, then onto novel writing. I still submit to anyone who will take me!
Have you had any books or authors influence you along the way?
- John Knowles, “A Separate Peace,” “Pat Conroy’s, “The Prince of Tides.” My mentor was my brother, Haines Crossan Fullerton, who had a complete command of the English language that made me want it for myself. Haines made me realize there is nothing more important in life than to master the art of communication. And it is an art!
Are you reading anything now?
- “All the Light We Cannot See” By Anthony Doerr.
Do you look up to any of these as a mentor?
- I don’t think I have a mentor!
Maybe not a mentor, but a favorite you love to go back and revisit now and again?
- I am a raving fan of the author Pat Conroy, who is as Southern as the day is long. His novel “The Prince of Tides” brought me to my knees, and is the finest writing I can think of; so lyrical and poetic, so vivid descriptively, so emotionally evocative.
Sounds like you’ve got a wonderful role model right there for your style and genre. What about new authors? Have any of those caught your attention?
- Not actually new, but new to me: Donna Tartt floors me for her dead-on accuracy. I also love reading my fellow authors at Vinspire Publishing. All are terrific writers!
With the varied personal experience, and list of reading you’ve done, has that helped you establish your own personal writing style? If so, how would you describe it?
- I think I’m a lyrical writer, in that I love the beauty of poetic words. I am very emotionally and physically descriptive.
When you are writing, do you draw from your own experiences and reality to flesh out the story, or do you let your imagination do that?
- Always in my own life, though I know I am not unique in any way nor on any emotional level. As my grandmother used to say, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” But this is exactly why I write!
- Since the book is literary fiction, I’d say everything in the book is spot-on realistic! It’s a commentary on human nature in many ways.
Along the way to where you are now, have you had extra support from anyone outside your immediate family?
- Dawn Carrington of Vinspire Publishing because she understands the kind of writer I am! In this day and age of genre intensive books, I plan to continue writing what’s known as literary fiction.
Did they help design your covers?
- Vinspire Publishing brought in Leanne from By the Muse Design. I’m in love with the cover of “Dancing to an Irish Reel.” Many feel the same!
With everything you’ve just described, I’m sure you’ve got a project in the works. Are you to a point where you can share anything about your current project?
- I am in the thrilling stages of promoting “Dancing to an Irish Reel” and am 68,000 words into my 3rd novel, which is a family saga set in the Deep South.
- I am thrilled to announce my second novel, “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is now available at all online book retailers! I have a wonderfully supportive publishing house named Vinspire Publishing, and “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is their first Literary Fiction release, so we’re all having a good time!
- I can share that the working title is “Mourning Dove.” It is a family saga that leans heavily of the themes of cause and effect, a search for place, a search for identity, a search for meaning, and even a search for God.
You have some wonderfully catchy titles. Do you have a method for selecting them, or do the works suggest a title as you write it?
- With Dancing to an Irish Reel, the title describes the push and pull as well as the uncertainty of new love wherein both parties are trying to decipher the meaning and veiled messages of the other! I consider the growth of new found attraction and the desire to connect to be a lot like a dance.
From that answer, and your titles, I’m guessing you leave hidden messages in your writing for readers to find. Want to give us a hint about what to look for?
- Yes! In Dancing to an Irish Reel,” it is about the choices we make in life and the things that hold us back from moving forward. Typically the things that hold us back are lack of encouragement or lack of verification, often times it is unfounded fear. The two main characters in the book try to understand each other and are too afraid and awkward to come right out and say what’s on their mind. This is what drives the story.
If you had to start this phase of your writing journey over with the knowledge you have now, would you change anything you have done with your first books?
- Absolutely not! I paid scrutinous attention to language and craft in “Dancing to an Irish Reel.” I wanted it to be filled with beautiful language and scenery, as well as adequately explain what I see as the soul of the Irish people. I also wanted to write about the ebb and flow and uncertainty people go through on the way to potential love. I wanted to write about the fears that tend to stop people. To me, it’s rarely a straight path to happily ever after, so I wanted to write about the beauty in the uncertainty, if that makes sense. I truly believe I got it right!
Would you agree that writing is now your career?
- Oh yes, not only a career, but a calling in life.
Have you had to overcome any obstacles in this phase of your writing? If so, can you share what you learned from the challenge?
- No, not really. I accept the writing process for exactly all that it is. It is work, but it is also a labor of love.
- [The hardest part for me was] the editing process with a complete stranger assigned to me by Vinspire Publishing. It is painstaking work to review my manuscript again and again through the eyes of another!
- The editing process of my first book prepared me for the craft of my second book. I now have a firm grasp on the accuracy of form and the ebb and flow of craft.
One more question before we wrap this up. (And, it’s the big “dreaded” question, too.) What advice would you give to up and coming authors?
- If you think you should write, then make it a priority and write! It is a growth process, and one becomes better as they persevere!
Clair… funny thing. That is such a common answer, I’ve got to guess it’s more than just a kernel of truth. Thank you for stopping by today. It has been fun getting to know you a bit more, and learning about your work. Any last words for the readers?
- Yes I do! From me, you’ll always be handed a commentary on the beauty of the human experience in all its multi-layered nuances. It is why I write.
And a wonderful reason too.
And, there you have it folks. Clair Fullerton – a literary fiction author. If you wish to connect with her, you can find her on her website here, Facebook here, Goodreads here, Twitter here, and Amazon here.
If you wish to get a copy of Clair’s books, the Amazon link will have them listed (and I’m being a brat to let you go look-see, since the fingers are tired from writing school papers.) If you enjoyed the interview, and wish me to host one for you – please stop by my offered services page and send me a submission. I’ll be more than happy to discuss details with you.
Don’t forget our Character Interview series is also going strong. This week’s guest is Hailey Crosson from Clair’s book Dancing to an Irish Reel