Interview With Fran Clark, Author of Holding Paradise–Plus an Excerpt

Please welcome my special guest Fran Clark, the author of Holding Paradise. Please enjoy her wonderful interview. If you’re a huge fan of women’s fiction, then please check out her book. She’s having a launch party on April 25th at her blog. Check it out for a chance to win prizes! Here’s the link: Fran Clark’s blog.

HP2_721.  Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

I would say, don’t be in a rush to take the first deal that comes your way. Make sure the publisher is offering the kind of support you need to get your book as visible as possible. These days a lot of the marketing effort has to come from the author themselves and some publishing houses are better equipped to help than others.

2.  Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Only that I had a recollection of a conversation I had with my Dad when I was a little girl. He asked what I wanted to do when I was older and I said I wanted to be a teacher or an author. By the time I left school I’d forgotten that conversation and had no idea what to do with myself. I worked in administration for years until I discovered music and eventually became a professional singer-songwriter. The writing came later still and now I have two passions in life. And, believe it or not I’m considering teaching Creative Writing so maybe I knew all the time what I wanted. It just took the long way to get there.

3.  What are your thoughts on the fact that both trade and self-published authors have to promote their own work?

Personally I hate the promotion side as it really isn’t my strong point so although my publisher does a lot less than me on the promotion side, I still feel I have some support. Self-published writers are extremely brave in my opinion. It is a shame that publishers don’t have the same financial clout they used to in such a changing market but we all have to adapt. Both traditionally and self-published writer alike. I am strongly considering self-publishing my short story collection as I’m geared up for promotion–whether I like to do it or not.

4.  What genre do you write for? Your favorite aspect? Your least favorite aspect?

i write Women’s Fiction. I love the variety in angles and stories that Women’s Fiction can cover. It’s not all love and romance. I hate that people will assume I write Chick Lit, I don’t. My stories are about ordinary people facing extraordinary situations and learning something about themselves as part of their journey. I just happen to choose themes that I believe women would relate to more than men but men enjoy my writing too.

5.  What are your current/next projects?

Well I need to edit my short story collection. I am half way through a second novel which needs lots of research. When the novel is completed I will begin to look for an agent.

6.  Do you prefer to work alone or with critique partners/beta-readers?

Well I certainly like to get my writing to at least 2nd or 3rd draft stage before anyone reads it. I think it’s important to get all your own ideas down and a level of confidence about your story so that you know where it’s going. But it is important to listen to criticism. Good criticism (and you have to decide what that is) can make the story stronger and hopefully more marketable.

7.  How do you find time to write?

These days with difficulty. I’m doing a Creative Writing MA and that is very demanding of my time. I find that I have neglected my second novel in favour of completing assignments. I am at my best when I’m organised and giving each task its necessary attention and knowing how much that is can vary depending on what life deals you at the time.

8.  Do you write the beginning/opening first or do you tend to write out of order (with whatever scenes interest you the most)?

I was only thinking about this recently. I do start at the beginning and work my way along to the end. I can’t help it. That’s what feels natural to me. I’ve tried writing out of sequence and that was the book I abandoned. (For now).

9.  Have you ever hated something you wrote?

Not hated so much as didn’t like. Sometimes I’ve felt a story wasn’t going well but continued anyway. When you read some things back they don’t always feel right and you can’t always put your finger on why. But don’t scrap ideas completely. Keep them in a back draw there might be a sentence, idea or character you’ll want to use in another story.

10.  Which is the easiest for you–novel, novella, or short story? Why?

To be honest I really don’t have an easiest because all writing is as easy or as hard as it to get a story to say what it needs to say. I’ve never written a novella but I have a collection of some very long short stories. I like to think that I give a story what it needs and that could be in 2,000 words or it could be in 90,000. Having said that I do have problem writing Flash Fiction. Maybe my problem with that is that I can’t shut up. Too many ideas to cram in to so few words!

11.  While you were writing, did you ever feel like you were one of your characters?

I never felt like I was one of my characters but some of them have certainly made me cry–and laugh come to that. My characters seem to take on a life of their own. They speak for themselves and I just go with the flow as I write. Hope that doesn’t sound too weird.

12.  How did you come up with the title?

The original title was Hidden Paradise and I was advised by a literary critic to change it as it didn’t fit the tone of my writing. I sat for days trying out new titles and started a poll with a few of my friends. Out of the blue I stumbled on just changing one word. Holding Paradise seemed to hold more promise and everyone else seemed to like it so I went with that.

13.  What inspired you to write your latest book? What is the book about?

Lots of things is my honest answers but if I were to narrow it down I would say it had a lot to do with my Mum. Her stories about life growing up in the Caribbean and what life was like when she first came to London. Holding Paradise isn’t her story as I used imagination to dream up my characters but there may be a little of everyone  I know in the characters in my book.

Holding Paradise’s Blurb:

On a grey and miserable morning in 2008 London businesswoman, Angelica Ford, boards a plane and flies off to the blues and greens of her mother’s island in the Caribbean. Angelica is desperate. She is looking for a way to save her marriage and win back her daughter. A web of lies has torn a hole into her seemingly perfect world and she is convinced that only her mother, Josephine Dennis, can help her turn her life around.

Josephine Dennis arrived in England by ship on a cold winter’s morning as a young mother joining her husband. She weathers a lifetime of secrets and betrayal as she raises her family in 1960s London. A matriarch with strong family values, she told her children colourful stories to guide them through life. It is the wisdom of one of these stories that Angelica seeks. Josephine has one last story to tell–the story that could change both of their lives.

Holding Paradise’s Excerpt

I walked into her room and saw, as usual, piles of clothes on the floor but resisted the urge to pick them up. Instead I dumped her clean clothes on the bed. Just as I did so, I heard her mobile go off. It made me jump. I was used to the ring tone but didn’t expect to hear it. It was impulse that made me grab it and press the little green telephone symbol. Before I could say ‘hello Eva’s phone’ I heard Saffron’s voice.

‘Bitch, what do you mean you’ve been having sex with someone in your family? You can’t send me emails like that and not expect me to call you right away. Who is it?’ I pressed the red telephone symbol straight away and threw Eva’s phone on the bed. I stood there staring at it. A few seconds later it rang again. I picked it up but I was ready. I saw the ‘Saffron calling’ sign as I gathered my thoughts.

‘Hello,’ I said.

‘Who’s that?’ Saffron sounded worried.

‘Oh Saffron. Did you just call? I picked up Eva’s phone but I couldn’t hear anyone so I hung up.’

‘Mrs Ford. You’ve got Eva’s phone?’

‘Yes, she must have forgotten it when she went off to Surrey with Luke. Shall I tell her you called?’

‘Er, yes please. So you didn’t hear me talking when you picked up?’

‘No. I don’t know what happened there. That’s technology for you.’ I laughed. A fake laugh. I hoped Saffron wouldn’t see through it. ‘Any message?’

‘Oh no, that’s okay Mrs Ford. I’ll just try her again this evening. Will she be back then?’

‘Yes, she should be. Bye then Saffron.’

‘Bye.’

I sat heavily on the bed. The piles of clothes I’d just put there slipped garment by garment onto the floor in slow motion until the last few t-shirts flopped quietly onto the jeans in real time. I got up quickly. I still had Eva’s phone in my hand. Why did I answer that call? No. I had to answer that call. The biggest secret that Eva could ever have kept from me, I had discovered by answering that call. But was Saffron serious? Why would she say it if it wasn’t true? My head was spinning. If it were true then who the hell could this family member be?

14.  Any blogs, websites, social media you’d like to share?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby