Home > Blog Tours > My Interview with Claudia Whitsitt

My Interview with Claudia Whitsitt

It seems that so many authors I meet or interview were, or are, teachers. To me there is no more noble profession. Do you think teaching others either influenced your writing, or even your ability to write?I am also a product of a parochial education. Did growing up and attending parochial schools affect your style of writing, or any of the settings or plots of your works?

I’m sure it has. Mostly, I notice the effects in my censoring of myself. I still hear the nuns saying, “that’s not appropriate language! “ It’s a constant struggle for me. I worry that if I write a four letter word I’ll be stricken dead. In all seriousness, though, a parochial education is at the forefront of my main character’s development in my novel, The Wrong Guy. Katie Hayes is the product of a parochial education, and she’s conflicted. The confines of her Catholic upbringing keep her from expanding her wings and doing all the things a college coed of the ‘70’s did in coming of age. Katie is faced with many losses, and her faith keeps her firmly planted in moments of despair.

I’ve finished one book and am almost completed with my second, you are working on your third, do you find the words flow from your fingers easier the more you write?

I actually just finished my third manuscript in June. And yes, I do find that the words flow more easily the longer I write. I’m a gut writer. I write, write, write, and edit later. Sometimes the clean-up can be overwhelming, but I’ve tried it both ways and it’s who I am. Writing is my favorite thing in the entire world. It’s as if the stars are all aligned when I write. Even if I’m struggling with a scene or a character, I’m happy.

I do find that if I have long uninterrupted periods, I can crank out even more. Interruptions, as I’m sure all writers know, slow down the process. Too bad I have to sleep.

I find myself asking this one question to all the authors I interview, from the time you thought of your story to the time you finished writing it, to the time you held your book in your hands, what was the most difficult obstacle you had to overcome?

Recently, I had an essay published. One Last Pearl was published in the Summer/Fall issue of The Hummingbird Review, a literary anthology. In that instance, seeing my work in print was an incredible experience. In writing my piece, the writing process happened as easily as it did in my novels. The words flowed freely. I immediately knew what I would write about.

I have yet to see one of my novels in print, and while it won’t be long before that’s the case, I will say that the greatest obstacle is getting the novel from my desktop to print. The publishing process, finding someone interested in publishing my work, is one of the greatest obstacles to overcome. Learning the business can be overwhelming. As a teacher, marketing, promotion, and contracts are all new things to me. These new challenges, along with the editing process, and feeling that the novel is finished and good enough for a reader’s eyes, weigh me down at times. I’m sure it will become easier. Experience is a good teacher!

I’ve had the pleasure of reading a few of your blog entries, in your own words, could you tell aspiring writers how important this aspect of marketing is essential to achieving a fan base for your works?

Today, marketing is absolutely essential for authors. The publishing world has changed. Now, unless you’re a best-selling author, publishing houses expect authors to market their work. In the main, authors are now their own publicists. In my particular case, my novel, THE WRONG GUY, to be published later this year by Echelon Press, will first appear in eBook format. By establishing a fan base in advance, through my blog and social networking, I’m creating interest in my work and will have people anxious to read my novel as soon as it’s published. My blog often contains poetry, editorials and prose, so that by the time my novel is released, my following will be well established. I’m becoming shameless when it comes to hawking my work. A necessary stretch.

Growing up in Detroit, did your hometown play any role in wanting to be an author or even play a part in any of your works?

My dad is a musician. He played concerts at Detroit parks when I was a kid, and I was first in the car to accompany him! I loved both the energy of the city and the peacefulness of spreading out an old blanket, lying under a willow tree, and listening to his Big Band music. As a young girl those were magical evenings for me. I would gaze at the starry sky and imagine myself as a famous singer, or on some undiscovered island creating a new world. Many of my initial ideas for stories came from those fondly remembered nights. I would guess it’s my dad, more than the city itself, who served as role-model in my creative endeavors. Both of my parents have fostered all of mine and my siblings’ creative natures.

But, that said, THE WRONG GUY is set in Ypsilanti, Michigan, a small town outside of Detroit. So the city does play a role in one of my novels.

You’ve achieved having two books published and are currently working on your third. I hate to ask, but every author has a book or work they are particularly proud of, even ones that aren’t published. Which is yours?

I have five children, and they all have wanted to be a favorite at one time or another. I feel this way about my books too. Each of my novels is one of my children, and each begs to be my favorite, especially when I’m working on it. But I try not to play favorites! Truthfully, though, I do believe that whatever project I’m working on is my passion at the time. I’m finding as I go back and edit previous writing, that I fall in love with my stories all over again and have special memories of writing that particular piece of work.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

I admired Nancy Drew from the time I turned ten years old. She represented everything I hoped to be—confident, independent, entrepreneurial, and brilliant. I envied the adventure in her life, and hoped one day I’d have a life as exciting as hers. Teaching has certainly been an adventure, but I still crave the mystery and suspense. That’s probably why I became a writer. I can create the adventure, even if I don’t have the energy to live it!

Now that you are in the polishing stages of your third book, what’s next? Do you have anything in mind for another story or stories?

Now you’ve really got me thinking. I always have stories floating around in my head. The hard part, I always find, is settling on a story. The last two times I’ve started novels, I’ve actually written a chapter or two of a couple of different ideas and then stuck with the one that resonated the most. It’s such an interesting process, and it’s oftentimes difficult to determine exactly what allows one idea to win over another. I’m such a gut writer. I don’t spend hours mapping out a story before I write. Sure, I think about possible scenarios, characters, themes, but I tend to let the story unfold as I go. If I get going and the characters aren’t grabbing me, or the story doesn’t have much meat, I will abandon it. I keep it in my idea file, and may come back to it someday, but as it’s gone so far, some stories have beaten each other out of the running.

I often save the toughest question for last, so here it goes. If you wanted to entice someone who was curious about your books, what would you say to them to REALLY intrigue them?

I love to dream “what if”, and I love writing stories about ordinary people in extra-ordinary situations. THE WRONG GUY, for instance, is the story of a college co-ed who finds herself caught up in a life of intrigue when she least suspects it, and is faced with a decision to fight to the finish. Readers who love mystery and suspense, strong female characters who are easily identified with, and character’s faced with life’s daily challenges and then some, will love my novels.

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