Fran Clark was born and currently lives in West London. She is married with two sons and works professionally as a singer-songwriter and vocal coach. Fran recently released Beautiful People, her second album of original songs which she co-produced with her musician husband.
Fran's first novel, Holding Paradise, is published in 2014 by Indigo Dreams Publishing. She is currently studying for a Creative Writing MA at Brunel University while working towards the completion of her second novel.
Your novel is called 'Holding Paradise' please could you tell me about it?
Yes Holding Paradise is about the journeys of main characters Josephine and Angelica, mother and daughter raised in different parts of the world and each with a dramatic coming of age story. When daughter Angelica's world begins to fall apart she must travel back to Josephine's island in the Caribbean to seek the wisdom of one of Josephine's, colourful stories that always guided her through life. Josephine's last story could change both of their lives.
'Holding Paradise' is about mother and daughter, Josephine and Angelica, please can you tell me about them? Josephine was born in the Caribbean and loses her father when she is aged 10. After that she vows never to marry and stay with her mother who is widowed and 30 and left with 8 children. Her fortune changes when she falls in love with marries the local womaniser. Following the sudden death of her third child, Josephine reluctantly comes to 1950s London with her husband to settle there. With 5 children to raise, Josephine weathers the misery of an adulterous husband and having to save her sister from and abusive relationship. She never has time to fulfil her own dreams.
Angelica is her middle daughter. A single mother she builds a successful business and eventually marries the man who seems the perfect match. When a hole is punched into her seemingly perfect life she loses her husband, her daughter and business partner. She begins a desperate attempt to rebuild her life.
Are any of the characters in 'Holding Paradise' anything like you?
Actually I don't think they are but I somehow believe that as writers we are writing at least a little piece of ourselves into our characters.
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?
It all happened quite quickly really. I sent in my manuscript to a writer's support agency who had contacts with various agents and publishers. They liked my manuscript and referred it to a few of their contacts. it was the small publishing company Indigo Dreams that liked the story and offered me a contract.
Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them.
So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character?
I think I would choose one of my supporting characters. Her name is Jasmin and she is Angelica's best friend. She is fearless, carefree and she brings Angelica out of her shell. I'd love to go on a shopping spree with her, do lunch, maybe a mani and pedi and then hit a chic cocktail bar in the evening. She's good company and she knows how to enjoy herself. With all the work I have on at the moment I could do with a good night out.
If you could choose one book that you think everyone should read, what would it be and why?
Easy - that would be To Kill A Mockingbird. This book has so many messages about the human condition that speak to me. Despite the era it is set there are themes that ring true even today. I had both of my sons read it so that it could teach them how important it is to stand up for what you believe is right, regardless of what anyone else says. If that has left you curious because you haven't read it then pick up a copy now, you'll love it. Even the film was good.
What can we expect next, any future books in the pipeline?
Well when I finished writing Holding Paradise I wrote a follow up in the way of a short story collection. They are a mixture of background stories and follow up stories based on certain characters in Holding Paradise. The characters kept following me around as there was more to them that just what happened to Angelica and Josephine. For example there is a Caribbean love story that dates back to the 1800s and the moving tale of Josephine's sister in 1970s London after she loses the love of the man who changed her life when she escaped domestic abuse.
If 'Holding Paradise' was to be made into a film, who would your dream cast be?
What or who in life inspires you? I am inspired by people who work hard and show a lot of dedication to the things they love. They manage to keep going when everything is stacked up against them and always have a smile when they are under pressure. There are 3 people like that in my life. They include my mother, my husband and my son. I am very lucky. When I've got a lot on my plate I think of them and it pulls me through.
What is your all time favourite book?
That is really hard one to answer as I love quite a few. But the one that always comes first to mind is the story of love and recipes set in Latin America. It's called Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
There is a cocktail/cupcake in honour of 'Holding Paradise' what are the ingredients?
It would definitely be a cocktail because of the parties that Angelica caters for. Firstly melted dark chocolate to represent the depth of emotion and the bitter sweet that runs through the book.
Then a large shot of rum for the Caribbean aspect of the story. Some sugar for the goodness in some of the characters and some spice for the troubles that befall some of them. Lastly an umbrella with a sparkler in the glass because there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
Thank you to Fran for talking to The Love of a Good Book!