Writing the story about Dr Clare Rhoden’s journey with words, brought up many memories of my own history and the things that keep me writing now. I am sure lots of you will have a similar connection to Clare, starting with the fact that like many authors, she says she writes because she has to.
‘My brain is full of words that often arrange themselves into stories. Writing them down gets them out of my head. My imagination explodes at the smallest push,’ she says.
Clare writes character driven stories – whether animal, human, ghostly, mythical or alien. She likes to see how these characters react in certain situations. She aims in her writing, to suggest better ways to deal with a real life situation by translating it into a fictional setting. This includes considering questions such as what a wolf pack leader would do if faced with a dying cub. Or how an ambitious Regent might deal with a humachine that has evolved feelings.
When Clare was in primary school, her teacher once gave her 100% for a fan fiction story that she had written. It was basically an extra chapter for an adventure book she had just finished reading. The teacher commented that she was a writer, and this stayed with her. Here she is many years later, finally calling herself one! Clare says she waited a long time to devote herself to writing, because she spent many years thinking she had other skills that she ‘should’ use to help others. She also wanted to earn a wage! Now, she says, is her time and writing is what she wants to do.
‘My writing obsession is also motivated by my belief that stories can change the world. Human society is built on narratives. It’s how we order our existence; according to the rules, behaviours and warnings nestled inside stories.’
Five Things About Clare’s History
- My mother taught me to read at the age of three. Possibly to stop me talking so much.
- The first book I read was The Little Golden Book of Puppies and Kittens.
- I’m the middle child of seven and a classic over-achiever. To my embarrassment, I have four tertiary degrees and I once ran a marathon – very slowly, I might add. My siblings are all very kind to me and I love them dearly.
- I spent 20 years as a speech pathologist before moving into tertiary student support and then university teaching.
- I still have the big white teddy bear that I got for my fifth birthday. I fell in love with it as we passed the toy shop every day, walking my older sisters to school. When it disappeared from the window I was heartbroken. Little did I know my parents had put Big Ted on lay by!
Clare says that her imagination never stops. She is currently working on a Regency romance that’s ‘slightly sexier than your average Georgette Heyer’, as well as a home-front companion to her First World War historical novel focusing on three diverse women, a novella about the legendary Cwn Annwn (the soul-seeking Otherworld hounds of ancient Wales), a fantasy novella about Robin Greenhood and wicked Prince John, a collection of before and after short stories related to her dystopian trilogy, The Chronicles of the Pale, and she has a middle-grade fantasy featuring old-magic cats coming out towards the end of 2021. I am sure she will be busily writing for many years to come with all of these stories!
Five Things That Help Clare to Keep on Writing
- I would find it very difficult to stop writing, and if I stopped inventing fiction, I would end up writing even more letters to politicians.
- My best tip for staying focused is to limit my writing time: if I give myself only thirty minutes, I can just let the story pour out and keep my inner Super-Editor at bay.
- I have a sign above my desk that says WRITE DON’T EDIT.
- If in a Slough of Writing Despair, read something! Becoming a reviewer for Aurealis magazine has unconditionally helped me to improve as a writer, no doubt about it.
- And the occasional message from a reader reminds me that stories count – even my stories. One reader of my historical novel The Stars in the Night wrote to my publisher to say that my book finally helped her to understand her grandfather, a World War One veteran of few words. That was such an affirming message for me.
Clare’s hopes for the future are modest, apart from, ‘world peace, an end to the Covid pandemic, and a solution to the the worldwide refugee crisis… simple things!’ She also hopes to keep writing as long as she’s alive, and says, writing is life, isn’t it? She wants to continue to get better at writing and read more books every year, (despite the fact that there are only so many hours in a day).
‘My husband, my dog, and my garden sustain me, and I hope to have all three of them as long as I’m around.’
You can find Clare at her website on Instagram @clarerhodenauthor Twitter @ClareER
Clare’s Book Links:
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