Welcome back to ALL THINGS GIRL! Today I am a lucky girl because author Claire Gillian came over for a visit. I met Claire sometime last year through Twitter. We were both posting our first ever Six Sentence Sunday snippets. After chatting for a while we came to realize that we had read many of the same books, had similar reasons for writing and both worked in the Finance/Accounting field in corporate America. We were also both preparing to release our debuts.
What are the chances of that happening?
So anyway, even though we are on opposite sides of the country, I celebrated Claire’s debut release of The P.U.R.E. with her a little over two weeks ago. I had the opportunity to read The P.U.R.E. on a long flight and wow! I was blown away. It has a little bit of everything, romance (which is high on my list of must-haves!), mystery, intrigue, sexy accountants (yes! they do exist!), and so many lovely twists and turns. You will love every page of this gem. Okay, more about The P.U.R.E. below, now on to the interview!
SB: Welcome to ALL THINGS GIRL, Claire! You know I love shoes so describe the shoes you are currently wearing and what you love about them.
CG: I’m just in my socks right now, but the pair I’ve kicked off that are sitting to the side are a really cute metallic pewter colored pair of Clarks’ sandals. I just got them over Spring Break in California. I wore them every day last week (rain and cold be damned) I love them so much!
SB: Claire even sent a picture, check these babies out! ->
SB: When and why did you begin writing?
CG: I started writing seriously after I tried my hand at fan fiction and got just enough encouragement to keep going. I ventured away from the television show I loved so much and into a world of my own creation. Needless to say, my first heroine was a Mary Sue version of myself. LOL “Chelsea” was a nearly forty year old (Yeah that’s my age too! Shut up!) widow not interested in loving and losing a second time, but of course does with a hunky actor. She holds him at arms length as long as she can before finally breaking down and falling for him. And she’s a killer amateur actress and work from home, crackerjack web designer with two perfectly behaved teenaged sons. The only person missing from my Mary Sue world was the Silverback, but he very graciously played the fictional dead husband for the furtherance of my art.
SB: I really like the premise, maybe I can convince you to resurrect the story one day! The title of your debut is unusual. It had me guessing! How did you come up with it?
CG: P.U.R.E. was a term I lifted from my public accounting days. I always wanted to write a novel about someone starting her career in that field and I always thought the term PURE was tragically funny. I never considered any other name, mostly because not that many people know what public accounting even is, and therefore not that many people would have heard of the term. A title that makes you pause and think, “Hmm, wonder what that stands for?” will jump off the shelf for an unfamiliar reader.
SB: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
CG: There is definitely a constant theme of revealing of the ugly underbelly of corporate politics, the point being that wealth and power do not entitle its holders to disregard the law or common decency. On a more immediate level and reminiscent of the book’s title, it would be “first impressions aren’t always right; cling to them at your own peril.” Lastly, I on the romantic front, I wanted to prove that accountants can be pretty damn sexy!
SB: Jon Cripps is verra sessay!! So, are the experiences from the book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
CG: There are many, many elements I drew from my own experiences in public accounting. Just like Gayle, I started my career at a large, prestigious CPA firm in Dallas. The apartments where Jon and Gayle lived were part of the same apartment community I lived in. Ditto the approximate location of their employer’s corporate offices and the downtown landscape. Gayle’s sense of being alone in a big, scary, unfamiliar city with very few friends is something I lived. Jon being one of her first friends made it logical that she would cling to him and eventually fall for him but not necessarily realize it was happening until too late.
Dating amongst staff was highly frowned upon in my day. I don’t think it’s quite as under the table now as it was then, although there are still many companies that expressly forbid fraternization.
I also drew from media accounts surrounding the downfall of my former employer, Arthur Andersen & Co., as a result of the Enron scandal.
SB: What books have most influenced your life most?
CG: This won’t be a short list because there have been so many at different points in my life! I do remember devouring Nancy Drew books when in grade school—I read them all! When I was a teenager, I adored gothic romances—Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney and Mary Stewart. I also took to the classics—fables, myths and fairy tales, Dickens, Dumas (father and son), Austen, and Bronte. Colleen Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale and Huxley’s Brave New World made impressions. I was also a huge short story fan with favorites of O’Henry and Guy de Maupassant. I remain a big fan of the twist ending.
Later on, Jean Auel, Anne Tyler and John Grisham were popular authors whose works I always enjoyed. Of late, I thoroughly enjoyed Outlander, though I stalled out in Drums of Autumn. Charlaine Harris’s Harper Connelly and Lily Bard mysteries were amazing. I’ve started reading more young adult books lately—Hunger Games, Cinder, Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series, Speak, Anna and The French Kiss. I pick up new influences all the time.
SB: I noticed that the Nancy Drew series received a nod in The P.U.R.E. I used to be a big fan of ND books too. What book are you reading now?
CG: I am reading White Horse by Alex Adams. Her book released the day after mine and as a matter of fact she tweeted that she purchased and read mine within hours of when I started reading hers. The books are like night and day but I’ve been looking forward to reading White Horse for over a year now. Alex is a fellow Absolute Write member and you couldn’t find a more gracious and humble writer, who has definitely paid her dues and was deserving of that drool-worthy three book deal her agent landed her. Alex is definitely living the dream.
SB: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
CG: Which one? LOL I write for three different groups of readers and have works in progress for all three. From my erotic romance writer’s desk, I have started a novelette for Decadent Publishing’s One Night Stand series. From my YA desk, I have a young adult contemporary novel in need of some editing so I can start querying it and I’ve also started a steampunk girl detective series. From Claire’s desk, I have an urban fantasy in need of some polishing that will hopefully be part of a trilogy set in New Mexico. I also have about 60k words inked/typed for a UK-based thriller that’s been rattling around in my brain for nearly thirty years.
SB: Wow, you certainly have a lot of balls in the air! Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
CG: Punctuation is a formidable foe. My writing also leans toward the flabby side—too wordy. Sometimes, often, I struggle with forcing myself to get off the internet and write. I am very easily distrac
SB: LOL! Who designed the cover of your book? Were you involved in the process?
CG: The art and marketing director of J Taylor Publishing designed the entire cover. I helped a little bit by scouring stock photos for the headless man on the right side. Our emails back and forth proposing and rejecting various pictures were hilarious. We finally found one we both liked. I am very pleased with my cover. I think my publisher has an excellent eye for covers in general and always does a fantastic job.
SB: Claire posted some of the model rejects on her blog one day, they were hysterical! So, what was the hardest part of writing your book?
CG: Because The P.U.R.E. is a mystery (with strong romantic elements), the hardest part was plotting. Told in first person, the reader gathers clues as the protagonist does. The trick is to plant enough subtle red herrings so the reader has almost as many possibilities to mull over as the character does. If the author shows only the puzzle pieces that lead to the whodunnit, the reader is not challenged and thinks the main character is stupid. If the author withholds too many puzzle pieces, imbuing the protagonist with unrealistic powers of deduction, that’s no fun either. And my biggest pet peeve—keeping the reader in the dark about clues only the protagonist knows—is a huge no-no. The book as published has a completely different ending, bad guy and motive than my first draft. I hadn’t even handed it off to a beta (other than my father) before I knew that ending was just wrong. Being more of a pants-er than a plotter, rewrites are a fact of life for me.
SB: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
CG: Not specifically from writing my book, but from writing in general and cultivating the company of other writers I learned that story trumps prose. Tell a good story first. Choose better words second. Not everyone agrees with me, but I think sales figures tend to back me up. That said, sales are not the only form of success, but they sure do make writing a lot more comfortable.
SB: Fantastic! Thanks so much for joining me today on ALL THINGS GIRL, Claire! I will be serving Cosmos, Non-fat lattes and diet cokes all day so kick your shoes off (that’s right, yours are already off ) and stay as long as you want.
As I serve the first round of drinks please check out Claire’s novel, The P.U.R.E.!
No one ever said Gayle Lindley’s first job would be a killer.
Fresh out of college, Gayle’s career path should follow the yellow brick road straight to the top. Thanks to a menial errand gone wrong, a wayward tongue, and a randy supervisor who won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, Gayle’s stuck in corporate hell.
Discovering a company secret only turns up the heat.
The one part of her life not going down in flames is her friendship with the gorgeous but intensely private, Jon Cripps. Jon would make the perfect consolation prize for Gayle’s pity party if dating a co-worker wasn’t career suicide. Then again, with all Gayle has been through, maybe falling in love is the lucky break she needs.
Hitting the cool sheets with Jon soothes her mind and body, but it also enrages whoever’s behind the smokescreen she’s uncovered at work. Someone is willing to kill to protect their secrets, and Gayle and Jon are the targets.
With both her heart and livelihood at stake, Gayle’s early career-limiting moves could turn into life-terminating ones.
Claire Gillian is a number-crunching executive by profession, an after hours writer by passion, and a darkly romantic curmudgeon. Published in short stories and anthologies, The P.U.R.E marks Claire’s official, and debut, transition to the publication of her work in novel form.
While Claire’s writing spans all ages and subject matters, she’s happiest penning romance drenched in humor with a dash of intrigue and loads of spice.
Claire lives in the boggy Pacific NW with her husband and two teen-aged sons.