Hi Claire, welcome to my blog. It’s lovely to have you visit.
- Tell us a little about yourself…
I’m a mum, wife, writer and deputy-editor for writing magazine Write On! I love reading books and eating cake but I also like being out in the great outdoors. I always seem to be slightly behind with things but I am beginning to accept that’s just life!
- What is Write On! magazine?
Write On! is a magazine created by Pen to Print for writers, by writers. What that means is the magazine is put together by a dedicated team of volunteers who are all writers published and unpublished and our content is made up from wonderful local and global submissions. We accept poetry, prose, non fiction and art of all kinds showcasing talent in the Barking and Dagenham area and beyond. Pen to Print is the parent organisation and is committed to bringing creative workshops to the local area and worldwide. As well as Write On!, they run regular competitions for novel writing, short stories, poetry, audio plays and stage plays. Every year they run a literary festival called ReadFest in September and have a whole host of guest speakers of a variety of genre and other writing related topics. It’s a wonderful project to be part of.
- Why do you write in the fantasy genre and what in particular is it about fantasy humour that appeals to you?
I have loved the fantasy genre since I was about twelve years old and first discovered the fantasy and sci-fi shelves in my local library. I would take home massive books, a dozen at a time, on the bus and spend my time devouring them. My debut book was actually hopeful dystopia with just a hint of fantasy within. It wasn’t until I started writing the Roshaven books that I felt like I’d hit my stride. I love Piers Anthony, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Jasper Fforde, Ben Aaraonovitch – all authors with that ability to make you read along, nodding and smiling to yourself at the wit and humour. I never set out to write fantasy humour, the characters made me do it. The Rose Thief is the first book in the Roshaven series followed by The Silk Thief and The Bone Thief. There is also a novella called The Interspecies Poker Tournament.
- Tell us what inspires you?
I am inspired every day by other writers, especially other indie authors, who always seem so focused and so dedicated. I am currently on a wobble and taking a small break from writing so I can reenergise and get back to it. I think it’s important to recognise that taking a break is okay.
- In your Roshaven series who is your favourite character and why?
There are so many wonderful characters in Roshaven but I think my favourite is Jenni, the stinky yet loyal sprite.
- Are you a plotter, pantser, or plantser (somewhere in between!) Lol. Or do you dare to follow no rules?
I’m a discovery writer. My usual format is to get an idea, get terribly excited and start writing making it to the 20-30k mark. Then I realise I need a bit of structure so I do a little bit of loose planning before carrying on, plot hole oblivious. Usually by the 45-50k mark I start working out the end and putting in brief chapter headings of what I want to happen. Sometimes I don’t even write those in the first draft. I start to get antsy because I know I have plot holes so that’s when I usually give in and start second draft editing. I usually have to do a lot of jigging about, extra writing and emergency filling in. I tried to plan once and got so bored going through the planning motions that I had no desire to write the book.
- Complete this sentence. Your writing muse (or your character’s/muse’s name.) hollers in your ear because… they’re tired of waiting for me to sit down and write haha.
- Who are your favourite fantasy authors?
Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Ben Aaronovitch, Robert Jordan, Sara Douglass, Robin Hobb, Terry Brooks, Terry Goodkind, Piers Anthony, Douglas Adams, Jasper Fforde, Gail Carriger, Genevieve Cogman and probably hundreds more but that’s what was on the top of my head.
- I believe you are… ~Writing passionately and hopelessly addicted to cake~ Me too! What is your favourite cake you like to bake and why?
It varies – of course – I love my Nan’s Victoria sponge and I make a mean lemon drizzle. Battenberg is a personal favourite, carrot cake done well and of course a good dense chocolate cake, not too sweet.
- Have you ever had a baking disaster? Did you save it?
Oh my days, I’ve had millions usually to do with sinkage. Sometimes it gets saved and served under custard other times it gets chucked. It depends what the final outcome was meant to be. I don’t bake as much as I used to and I do miss it.
- I love poetry and I believe you also write poetry. What is it about this form of expression that appeals to you?
I like how poetry can be such a personal expression of mood in the moment but you don’t have to hold on to it. You can express it and then move on. I find writing poetry very cathartic.
- How do you market your books?
Probably not as well as I should. I try to be visible on social media with regularly posting but I know I’m not as engaged as I should be. Time is always the issue, I never have enough. I do try to keep an eye on what works and what doesn’t so that I can be as effective as possible when marketing. I have a newsletter, I take part in giveaways, I’ve tried some paid promotions with various success but it’s definitely something I need to get more focused on.
- I’ve recently finished writing a second in a series and found it darn hard. What are your feelings about writing series. Any advice you can give to current/future writers of series…
Oh my gosh, it is tough – especially when you leave a long gap between books as I did, twice! My advice is to keep a worldbuilding bible, even if you are writing in this world, having all your places and characters in one place really, really helps. Two of my characters have very distinctive accents so they have a lexicon of words so I don’t forget how they say something. I am still working on my bible and 5 books in, it’s becoming very necessary. From a planners point of view, I think you need to know your arc over the series before you write and ideally, have most of the series fleshed out in some way or another before you publish – you never know when a character is going to throw a spanner in the works and change everything.
Do share an excerpt of your writing.
An extract from The Rose Thief
There was a bit of shoving and muttering as Ned pushed his way through the ranks. He didn’t have to look too hard to find the murder scene, all he had to do was follow the curious crowd. A fair number of the shifty looking men in nondescript clothing had come to make sure Two-Face Bob was actually dead. Certain people owed certain things and if his death were true, life had suddenly become a lot brighter. It only took one look to know for certain. One of Two-Face Bob’s faces stared lifelessly at the smog ridden skies above, both eyes missing. The other face, which incidentally remained on his head, attached to his body, had eyes popping, mouth open as if to scream, and a terrified look of fear and shock frozen in place. Someone had clearly taken a violent dislike to the man. Looking down at the separated visages of Two-Face Bob, Ned felt a flicker of unease surge in his stomach. It could be because he hadn’t eaten in the past twenty-four hours. Or it could be because Two-Face Bob had been to see him less than five minutes ago, claiming intel on the Rose Thief. Ned didn’t hold much weight with coincidences. The viciousness of the attack was unusual for the type of murder usually committed in the city of Roshaven. Put that together with Two-Face Bob’s extensive protection system of both magical and mundane origin and it was obvious.
‘He’s been ripped apart by a wraith,’ Ned muttered under his breath.
‘Care to comment, Spinks?’
Ned turned to his left, his heart sinking at the tall, willowy figure standing next to him. Mariah Neeps was… well she was a damn fine figure of a woman provided you never wanted to keep a shred of personal information to yourself. Neeps worked for The Daily Blag.
‘I’ll just elaborate on my Warlock theory then. Shouldn’t be too difficult. They had a ruckus with one up in Narborough a few months back.’ Neeps sucked the end of her recorder thoughtfully as she internally swept through the memorised headlines from her rival news bringer, The Chronicle.
‘They what?’ asked Ned.
But before Neeps could elaborate, Mrs Wicket barged her way through the crowd to stand in front of Ned. Her general shape and appearance were hard to identify thanks to the several flowing capes and feathered hats Mrs Wicket wore when she sallied forth. She was of the opinion that you can never have too much of a good thing and in her mind capes and feathered hats were the epitome of fashion. She was right, if she’d lived a hundred years ago. Still the capes and hats made her a local celebrity, the one person that simply everyone knew.
The bright orange feather on her highest hat was dangerously close to Ned’s eye. He attempted to sidle to the right slightly but was stopped by a podgy hand poking a sausage shaped finger hard into his chest.
‘What are you going to do about my safety, hmmmm?’ Mrs Wicket turned her head left and right, to make sure she had a suitable audience. Feathers whipped Ned in the face.
‘All citizens’ safety is a high priority Mrs Wicket, yourself included. My fellow catchers will be here shortly to seal the scene and a full report will be generated for the Emperor.’
‘May he live for ever and ever.’ The crowd chanted firmly, all eyes fixed on Ned.
Roshaven Book 1 The Rose Thief
Roshaven Book 2 The Silk Thief
Roshaven Book 3 The Bone Thief
Roshaven Case File No. 27 The Interspecies Poker Tournament
Roshaven Short Story Ye Olde Magick Shoppe
All my links including my website, Amazon book page, email newsletter and social media posts can be found on my linktree: https://linktr.ee/clairebuss
Claire Buss is an award-winning multi-genre author and poet. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead, Claire went on to work in a variety of marketing and administrative roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and expert procrastinator Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 with her debut novel, The Gaia Effect, setting her writing career in motion. Since then, Claire has published seventeen novels and poetry collections and had her short fiction published in six anthologies. The Gaia Effect won the Uncaged Book Reviews Raven Award for Favourite Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel in 2017 and the first book in her humorous fantasy series, The Rose Thief, won in 2019. Working with Pen to Print, Claire delivers regular Book Surgeries offering marketing help and advice to new and established authors. In 2019 Claire was part of the original team involved in creating and establishing Write On! Magazine and continues to support, work and promote the magazine in her role as Deputy Editor, a different kind of Lois who champions new writers and helps them share their creativity. Claire continues to write passionately and is hopelessly addicted to cake.
Author – www.clairebuss.co.uk
Deputy Editor, Write On! Magazine – www.pentoprint.org
Sign up for Claire’s newsletter & get The Blue Serpent & other tales for free – http://eepurl.com/hVNwRP
Thank you so much Claire for being such an entertaining and interesting guest. I am also passionately addicted to cake! And her humorous fantasy books sound fab. Do comment below to share your love of books and cake!
Nice to meet Claire. Enjoyed the excerpt, too.
Thank you Allan. 🙂
HI Marje, it’s lovely to meet Claire and learn about this magazine and her books. I always seem to be slightly behind with things but I am beginning to accept that’s just life! – I feel like this too. I’m never on top of anything at the moment.
Hi Robbie, know the feeling! Especially, at the moment. It was lovely having Claire visit. 🙂