30 September 2010

Please welcome Clare Austin, my guest today.

Thank you for joining us today, Clare. Please will you tell us something about yourself?

Hi and thanks for having me here today. Something about myself? I’ve been called “driven” and a “type A” person. I’m not sure those labels really fit me, but I have always been inclined to take on the difficult and put 100% of myself into accomplishing my goals. This has been true in writing as well as my involvement with horse sport, music, being a mom. I tend to go “all out.” I simply do not have another way of doing things.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

When I started writing fiction I was a complete pantser. I never plotted, planned, outlined or even thought about where my characters were taking me. They took me in some very odd directions back then. Now, I plot to some extent. I have limits and boundaries on where my characters are allowed to go within any particular story. Sometimes they insist on straying and refuse to come back when called. I’ve had to send a few off and tell them they get their own book down the road somewhere.

What/who has been your greatest inspiration?

Life itself has been my inspiration. I am an observer and listener. I see and hear stories all around me. However, I’ve been inspired by many authors in various genres as well.

Whose POV do you prefer…hero/heroine/villain?

I write in all POV’s. I like to mix it up. Getting into a villain’s head turned out to be quite difficult for me when I wrote Angel’s Share, but I felt the book really needed to expose him. It sounds a bit psychotic but I have vivid “conversations” between characters ...often out loud...but I try to do it when other people are not around.

What is your favoured writing routine?

I like to write in the morning for a couple of hours and then again in the afternoon. This routine has been disrupted since I’ve become published because I now have to spend time on promotion. I try to get the “office work” out of the way early so I can concentrate on the creative.

What has been your greatest fear you’ve had to overcome as a writer?

That’s easy. Standing up in front of people and presenting my work and myself terrifies me. I’m naturally quite shy, but I have found that I’m very enthusiastic about my novels and when I start talking about my books or characters, I transform into a more gregarious woman. I suspect that people who only know me related to my writing have no idea how introverted I truly am.

What do you do to relax?

I relax by doing things that take total physical and intellectual involvement. Riding my horses nearly every day is one of the things that, for me, takes my full attention. Also, I play violin. I practice every day, sometimes for hours. When I really don’t want to think...yes, there are times like that, I knit socks or watch a film.

Do you have a favourite colour? And how does it make you feel when you wear it?

I love yellow. Not every woman can wear yellow, so I feel special when I’m wearing soft buttery or bright sunflower yellow. My car is bright yellow and it surprised me when I bought it people said it was “so me.” It’s a fun colour: young, uninhibited. I hadn’t thought of myself that way, but it’s a nice way to feel.

Who is your favourite writer?

I have several favourites depending on genre, but in fiction I really love Maeve Binchy. I have read and re-read so many of her stories.

If you were a food, what would you be?

Fresh berries...sometimes dipped in dark chocolate.

How do you deal with criticism?

It hurts, but it cannot kill you! I participated in Three Day Eventing. This equestrian sport is really risky. Each time I waited with my horse in the start box before cross country, I knew the dangers. Compared to that, having someone not like something I write or even flubbing up a violin piece in front of a hundred people just doesn’t intimidate me.

What do you do when your mind blanks?

This has been happening more lately. It usually manifests itself in forgetting someone’s name, or a common word...I’ll just hunt my memory banks for it and it doesn’t show up. If I’m really stumped, I go on to something else...or just “hey, great to see you again.” It is the same with a story...I go on to something else and come back to it later.

What books and wip are in the pipeline for this year?

I have two works going simultaneously right now. I usually don’t do that but it’s just the way this is working out. Rosy Again is a contemporary romantic comedy, set in a small fishing village in Ireland. It has been fun to work on so far and I really think the heroine, Rosy, is going to capture the reader’s heart. Selkie’s Song is the final book in the Fadό Trilogy. It has been a long time coming and my Fadό fans have been asking when it will be available. It is about half way finished, so it’s a way off from release, but I hope it will be worth the wait.

Do you have a blurb and excerpt from one of your books you’d like to share?
My latest release, Hot Flash, is a contemporary romantic women’s fiction.

Kate Aiello has spent her entire life trying to please others—her three brothers, her Italian mamma and her husband of twenty-five years. It isn’t insult enough she is turning fifty, and left at the side of life’s road by her philandering husband. Now she has to contend with her body’s betrayal…hot flashes!
The plain truth hits her with each thermostatic aberration—she has never been first in anyone’s life, including her own.

Brandon Sullivan has been on a downward spiral since the death of his beloved wife. Now he is a man desperate to save himself from impending financial ruin, loss of his farm and his life’s dream. He needs to get into the winner’s circle by spring or he’ll be just another poor, landless Irishmen downing his pints and bragging about the good ol’ days.

Sparks fly when Italian attitude meets Irish temper. Add two big crazy families, a barn full of horses and one woman’s menopausal hot flashes and the probability for combustion increases exponentially.

What will Kate and Brandon risk for a second chance at love?

 This is how the book starts.

“WS HS.” Was his! The little blue Beemer with vanity plates had become a symbol, the only thing Kate Aiello wanted from her erstwhile husband that he’d resented giving her. She didn’t particularly like the fancy roadster, but its new license plates sent a message to the world.

Driving along the back roads from her suburban Baltimore neighbourhood to the rural countryside, she perceived a twittering in her belly—excitement, anticipation, fear? Or was it a warning bell her unpredictable thermostat was about to work it’s evil on her again? Kate took a deep breath and tried to concentrate on driving.

Tears choked in her throat and stung her eyes. Wasn’t it insult enough she was turning fifty and being left at the side of life’s road by her philandering husband? Now she had to contend with her body’s betrayal…hot flashes!

Today the dissolution of her marriage would be final. Kate’s life would begin to be her own. She was no longer Catherine Waldon, or Mrs. Jeffrey Waldon. She was once again, after twenty-five years, Kate Aiello. And, just as Jeffrey had promised, she would never want for anything money could provide. Her attorney called it ‘a very profitable divorce’. Unfortunately, where her heart had once resided, there remained only a big black hole.

That was the moment it hit her—the tingling in her face, a million fine needles pressing into her flesh, heat spilling from her pores, pulse intensifying.

Distracted by her rebellious body, she didn’t see the squirrel until the last moment, but she was sure they had made eye contact. As he scooted to the right then to the left, she swerved to avoid rendering him road kill. The next several seconds slowed to a ballet of disaster. Brakes squealed, tires bumped over the bewildered varmint in their path, and she was thrown forward and then snapped back. A sickening sound of metal on metal pierced the atmosphere and her cranium smacked hard into the headrest.

Aghast, Kate took assessment. She was stunned but not hurt. Her hands gripped the steering wheel with pale knuckles, and her seat belt pressed into her chest with such force she could barely breathe.

That is when she heard him.

Muttering in a mix of English and a language unfamiliar to her ears, a voice rose and fell in anger and frustration. “Jaysus. Céard atá ar bun agat? Do ya see what ya did to me pick-up?” He pointed at the grill of his truck. Then, as if it were an afterthought, he asked, “Are ya hurt?”
Kate unfastened her seat belt and, on shaky limbs, as elegantly as possible stepped out of her car. The back quarter panel of the Beemer was smashed and one tail light bobbled, looking like a dislodged eyeball hanging from its optic nerve.

“Your truck? It isn’t even scratched. Look at my car. I was trying to miss the…” She looked at the pavement and screamed at the horror that lay there. “Ahh! I’ve killed him! Oh my God.” She had completely flattened the squirrel, his bloodied corpse a bleak reminder of her own vulnerability.

In counterpoint to her rising panic, he appeared to calm himself. “If you could see it in yourself to settle down—I think we should exchange insurance information,” he said, raking his hand through his thick, black hair.

Kate silently counted to ten, cleared her throat and modulated her voice to hide her alarm. “Yes…yes we should do that.” She reached into the glove box, retrieved her card and handed it to him. “I hope my car will run. I have an appointment.”

“Sure, an’ that makes two of us.” He wrote her information on the back of an envelope, showed her his driver’s license and handed her his business card, which she was too shaken to read.

He stepped cautiously around her, and surveyed the damage to her car. “I think you can drive safely with this, but get in and start her up. I’ll wait until you’re sure you can get down the road.”

Tears again began to well up in Kate’s throat. No, no, no way…I will not cry in front of this man. No man will ever see Kate Aiello’s tears again. She swallowed back the convulsive, wracking sobs threatening to consume her. This person had no right to be angry with her. He’d run right into the back of her car. He should have been paying attention. Didn’t he see she was trying not to murder an innocent forest creature?

She had to get out of here. Now that she’d calmed down, the man, with his riveting sapphire eyes, chiseled jaw and lean body, was having a strange effect on her. It was not an altogether unfamiliar feeling, though it had been quite a while since she had experienced it.

It must be hormonal.

She had to get a grip. Kate was determined to move on. She was headed to her first horseback riding lesson with the desperate hope some magic would transform her back into a whole woman.

As she drove away from the scene she had whirligigs in her stomach. Her cheeks were pinked and glowing, and she feared it wasn’t from a low ebb of estrogen.

Please will you provide purchase links and details?

All my books are available in trade paperback or e-book formats.
Autographed copies of my three current releases, Butterfly, Angel’s Share and Hot Flash, can be purchased from my website http://www.clareaustin.com/ with PayPal or by contacting me at AuthorClare@gmail.com
The e-books are available through http://www.thewildrosepress.com/ and several other online sellers including Amazon.
Please stop by my website or my blog http://www.clareaustin.wordpress.com/ for news and information.
Follow Clare tomorrw when she visits http://www.elainepcantrell.blogspot.com/
Clare will be giving away the winner's choice of a Hot Flashes T-shirt or coffee mug to the blog host with the most comments (excluding their own, Clare's, or duplicates) as well as one randomly drawn commenter.


Megan Johns said...

I am totally with you on Maeve Binchy. She has a beautiful writing voice.

Sherry Gloag said...

I wear a lot of yellow too. It's such a cheerful colour.