In today’s post, I speak with speculative fiction author and poet, Claire Buss. Claire has published the Gaia trilogy, the first couple of books in the Roshaven series, and many short stories and poems. You can read my review of the first book in the Roshaven series, The Rose Thief, here.
I asked Claire a number of questions about her writing process and plans.
Jeanette: Claire, it’s great to have you on Jeanette O’Hagan Writes. Share three things that people may not already know about you.
1. I struggle with snails. It’s not necessarily a phobia but I do have to cross to the other side of the path when they’re out and about.
2. I have my grade 1 and 2 roller skating qualifications.
3. I went to a Busted/Mc Fly and Cliff Richard concert on the same weekend.
Jeanette: The scariest snail I’ve encountered are the ferocious snailshark in Chrys Crymi’s Temptation of Dragons, but, I have to say, stepping on one with bare feet is not pleasant either (as I can attest from experience).
Have any favourite books, movies and TV shows inspired or influenced your writing?
Clare: I get inspired all the time, sometimes even by the rubbish books, movies and TV shows. My early fantasy and sci-fi reading years were filled with Piers Anthony, Terry Brooks and Greg Bear so I have much love for them. Pratchett is definitely an influence and I often catch myself reading another author and thinking man, I wish I could write like this. I don’t think you ever stop being influenced by great creativity.
Jeanette: Anthony and Pratchett were favourites of mine and you have captured the comic vibe with your Roshaven books so well. Which (perhaps little-known) authors were your best reads in the last couple of years?
Claire: For Firefly-esque sci-fi, I can definitely recommend TWM Ashford and his Final Dawn series. For a bit of romance – Jaimie Admans. YA fantasy, most definitely Frances Hardinge. Women-centric mythology, look no further than Madeleine Miller. Superb worldbuilding from NK Jemisin and urban fantasy from Gail Carriger and for a floating library in France consider Nina George. For more details, do stalk me on Goodreads.
Jeanette: I can second France Hardinge and will have to explore the others. You are on the cusp of releasing The Bone Thief, Book Three in the Roshaven series. How did you come up with the idea for the Roshaven stories?
Claire: I tend to spend a lot of time feeling quite worried about the whole thing until usually a plot idea will come to me randomly, often half-formed but with some merit. Then the discovery writing process begins and I find out where we’re going on this story. And yes, that is exactly what happens and is why second draft editing is spent filling all the plot holes that came up as the story evolved.
Jeanette: I like the term ‘discovery writing’. Do you have a favourite character among the Roshaven gang? Which character gave you the most trouble to write?
Claire: I don’t really have a favourite character but I do enjoy writing Ned, Jenni and Fred. Momma K’s dialogue keeps me up at night and I wish I spoke firefly. But really, writing a story in Roshaven feels like putting on some comfy slippers and letting the characters tell their story through me.
Jeanette: They are certainly a lot of fun to read. You have also written The Gaia trilogy, which you describe as hopeful dystopia. What do you mean by that and how do they differ from the Roshaven books?
Claire: The Gaia books can be seen to be hopeful dystopia because they’re not full of the usual doom and gloom you expect from the post-apocalyptic and dystopian genres. There’s hope that if people do the right thing, then good things can happen. It was a phrase coined by a reviewer and it’s stuck with me. The Gaia books differ to Roshaven because they are not humorous fantasy and are instead set in our future, around 200 years hence.
Jeanette: Fiction is a powerful way of imaging alternative futures. In addition to your books, you write poetry and have recently created a sea shanty. What do you enjoy about poetry and shanties?
Claire: I think poetry is a really personal expression of the moment, something that I’ve found very cathartic as a mother to young children. A lot of my poetry is humorous taking the whole, you have to laugh approach to life. The sea shanty was written especially for The Bone Thief. I enjoyed the research stage and listening to lots of different shanties. I think I came up with a catchy shanty and often find myself singing the chorus randomly!
Jeanette: What are the joys and challenges in being a published writer? Could you imagine not being a writer? If so, what would you do?
Claire: The joys of being a published writer are, of course, seeing your book in print and on the shelf – that feeling never gets old. Then, having people you know read your books and enjoy them is an enormous boost to writerly self confidence but even better than that is having people you don’t know read and enjoy your books. That is a constant source of amazement.
The challenges of being a writer are definitely writers’ block – whether you ‘believe’ in it or not, it’s definitely a factor. That and the constant feeling of impostor syndrome. Despite the fact that I’ve been writing and self-publishing for over five years now, I still have that feeling that someone is going to tap me on the shoulder and tell me off for doing it haha.
I, like many other writers, loved to read and write as a child and would often write little stories but never thought I could ‘be’ a writer. I took up blogging about 11 years ago and had fun writing those posts but it wasn’t until I attended a Writers Workshop at my local library that I truly began to think about becoming a writer. I entered a competition which ended up forcing me to write my debut novel in three months – turned out pretty well, I came second in the competition and it launched my writing career.
What would I do if I wasn’t a writer? Probably diminish to a grey wallflower in an office somewhere. I don’t earn lots of money but at least I get to do what I love and hopefully, something that I’m good at.
Jeanette: It’s not an easy road, but strangely addictive. Tell us more about your upcoming release The Bone Thief. When it will be released and where it will be available.
Claire: The Bone Thief is the third book in my humorous fantasy Roshaven series, although the books can be read independently, it does follow the characters from The Rose Thief and The Silk Thief. In The Bone Thief Roshaven is being threatened by the Spice Ghosts. In this humorous fantasy romp as they demand the return of their mystical bones but when Ned and Jenni follow the skeletal trail into the dark and dangerous waters of the dread Sea Witch they must fight to avoid becoming the catch of the day.
The book is currently on 99p ebook pre-order everywhere (Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, Apple Books, Nook and Smashwords) on comes out on 12th November in both ebook and paperback. Here is the link: https://books2read.com/u/3LRkgD
Jeanette: Having just finished reading The Silk Thief (and loving it), I look forward to Ned and Jenni’s adventures in the lair of the sea witch.
Thanks Claire for taking the time to talk with us. Claire is offering an e-copy of your pick of the delightful Roshaven books – The Rose Thief or The Silk Thief or The Bone Thief (your pick) to one fortunate reader. For your chance to win, leave a comment below about the interview. Closes on 14 Nov 2021
Do check out Claire’s books. And this weekend (6-7 November 2021), I will be with Lynne Stringer and Adele Jones at the Rendered Realms stall in Supanova Brisbane (Brisbane Convention Centre). If you are in the neighbourhood, drop in and say hello.
More about Claire: Claire Buss is an award-winning multi-genre author and poet. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead, Claire went on to work in a variety of marketing and administrative roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and expert procrastinator Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 with her debut novel, The Gaia Effect, setting her writing career in motion.
Since then, Claire has published seventeen novels and poetry collections and had her short fiction published in six anthologies. The Gaia Effect won the Uncaged Book Reviews Raven Award for Favourite Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel in 2017 and the first book in her humorous fantasy series, The Rose Thief, won in 2019. Working with Pen to Print, Claire delivers regular Book Surgeries offering marketing help and advice to new and established authors. In 2019 Claire was part of the original team involved in creating and establishing Write On! Magazine and continues to support, work and promote the magazine in her role as Deputy Editor, a different kind of Lois who champions new writers and helps them share their creativity. Claire continues to write passionately and is hopelessly addicted to cake.
You can follow her on Twitter @grashopper2407, Facebook.com/busswriter and visit her website www.clairebuss.co.uk for more information about Claire and her writing. All her books are available in eBook and paperback on Amazon at tinyurl.com/ClaireBussBooks
You can find her books here The Rose Thief , The Silk Thief , The Bone Thief
Author – www.clairebuss.co.uk
Deputy Editor, Write On! Magazine – www.pentoprint.org