Monday, 2 September 2013

Talking across the pond with Claire Baxter

Claire Baxter writes contemporary romantic fiction of all lengths. Her short stories have been published in commercial women’s magazines around the world, while her novels have been translated into 20 languages, and have been nominated for the Romance Writers of Australia's Romantic Book of the Year Award, the Booksellers’ Best Awards, the RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Awards, and the Cataromance Reviewers’ Choice Awards (winner, Best Harlequin Romance).

Before following her passion to write full-time, Claire was an award-winning corporate communications manager. Earlier, she worked as a translator and a PA.

Claire grew up in Warwickshire, England, but for more than 20 years has called Australia home. She considers herself lucky to live near one of Adelaide’s beautiful metropolitan beaches where she loves to walk and think up stories.


Your novel is called 'Anybody but him ' please could you tell me about it?
It’s an enemies-to-lovers story with some laughs along the way and themes of letting go of the past, growing up, and dealing with aging parents.

'Anybody but him' is about Nicola please could you tell me about her?
Nicola is a very successful city executive who returns to her home town reluctantly because it’s the site of her life’s most embarrassing and emotionally painful incidents. Little does she know that her three-month stay will give her a different perspective on events of the past. At the beginning of the story she’s stuck in a cycle of dating men who let her down, and she refuses to believe that the boy who broke her heart in high school has grown into a man she can rely on. With his help, she learns to put old hurts behind her and move on with a more mature outlook on life.

They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an author can take, please can you describe the journey that you went on?
I started writing in 2003 when I left my job as a corporate communications manager to write a book – just to see if I could do it. After years of writing about the grim reality of sewage treatment systems and the like, I was so ready to try my hand at writing fiction. I quickly became hooked and knew I had to strive for publication. I didn’t know I was going to write romance, but every one of my early stories contained a central love story, so I did some research and – light bulb moment! – discovered that I was a romance writer.

I wrote three romances and a mystery, then pitched my fourth romance at the 2005 Romance Writers of Australia conference in Melbourne to a Mills and Boon editor from London, and she requested the partial. When I returned home from the conference I learned that I’d won a romance writing contest and had received a request for the full manuscript from the same editor. So I sent it off to London and in February 2006 received the call to say they wanted to buy my book.

Fast forward seven years (where did that time go?) and I’ve had several romance novels published, as well as numerous short stories. I’ve branched out from writing for Mills and Boon, mainly because I want to incorporate humour into my books, as well as more diverse plots and interesting secondary characters. I’m writing a range of stories now including romantic comedy, sweet romance, and mystery with romantic elements.


If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
First write the story that’s in your head/heart. Don’t cram your head full of the so-called rules of writing. Don’t research the market or worry about the mechanics of the publishing industry. Don’t try to guess the next trend and shoe-horn your story into the type you believe will be the next big thing. Once you’ve proven to yourself that you can finish a first draft, you can start revising it, and at the same time you can do your homework on publishing options. But first, write the story.

What can we expect next, any future books in the pipeline?
I’m currently working on a new romantic comedy for Random Romance set in a small town in South Australia. In the meantime I have a fun, sweet romance coming from Entangled’s Bliss imprint in September, and I’m self-publishing a series of short romantic novellas with the first two out now and the third coming by the end of the year.

Was there any book you read as a child that convinced you that you wanted to become a writer? If so, which one was it?
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. It was the first book in a series of twelve, and of course, I devoured them all, one after another. I told everyone I was going to be a writer when I grew up, but it was about 40 years before I made good on that promise.

if there was one saying that could sum up your life, what would it be?
"A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step." (The quotation varies, but is attributed to Lao-tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher.)
No matter how big, how insurmountable something seems, it all starts by taking the first step, or doing just a portion at a time.

What is your all time favourite book?
Difficult. I have many favourites, and I’m finding more favourites all the time, but if I have to choose...

‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen.

If 'Anybody but him' was to be made into a film, who would you like to star in it?
Oh, this is a fun question. I know some authors cast actors before they start writing, but I’ve never done that. Now, let’s see...

Nicola: Emily Blunt would be my first choice. If Emily had scheduling issues, then I’d consider Katherine Heigl.

Blair: James Marsden would be good. Very good, actually. If James was unavailable, then Henry Cavill could probably step in.


Please could you tell us a bit about your writing process?
Characters come first. Always. They live in my head until I’m ready to put their stories down on the page, and often I don’t know what’s going to happen until the story unfolds. Sometimes I might have a theme in mind, or a particular setting, but until the characters take me on their journey, I don’t know how important those aspects of the story are going to be. I’m not much of a plotter, but sometimes I’ll write a synopsis before I start, or after I’ve written the first few chapters.

I would like to thank Claire for talking to 'The Love Of A Good Book'

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