Author Interview: Claerie Kavanaugh

Claerie Kavanaugh Photo

Tell me about yourself? And what made you want to be a writer?
My name is Claerie. I’m 24, I’m a freelance editor by day and author by night. I’m not sure what drew me to writing; I guess I’ve always just liked telling stories. When I was younger, I thought I would do that by becoming an actress, but eventually I realized I was better at writing than public speaking, hahaha, I only got serious about writing when I discovered fanfiction in college. Playing around in worlds I loved was fun and gave me a great stomping ground to practice my craft. 

As for my non-writing life, I have one younger sister, two half-brothers, and a very sassy cat. I love theater, singing, baking, traveling, and I swear I was a native New Yorker in a former life. 

What attracted you to the particular genre you are involved in? And do you stick with it consistently or do you change it up?
I was always drawn to fantasy. The first book series I remember reading by myself was The Magic Treehouse by Mary Pope Osborne. I just loved the possibility of there being magic in the world and things not always being what they seemed. I think my fascination with how things could be as opposed to how they are is probably the reason that I write fairytale retellings, and fractured ones at that. Morally grey characters are my favorite because there are always so many layers to uncover. I love the idea that people are never just good or evil and everyone has a little bit of both inside them. 

Romance though, is an entirely different animal. In fact, I used to hate romance as a kid because I found it sappy and predictable. It wasn’t until I discovered fanfiction, SwanQueen (the Regina/Emma ship from ABCs Once Upon a Time, and Wicked fanfic in particular, that I realized what romance was really about. Not just fluffy relationships and happily ever afters, but human connection. The desire to push one another to be better, and create hope that somewhere, somehow, everyone has someone.

What is your writing process like? And how important is research to you when writing a book?
My writing process is so different than what it was! It changes with every book. In general, though, it takes me about two weeks to outline-I’m somewhere between a plotter and pantser—and then a month to three months to write the first draft. Then I recruit betas, revise, and hand it off to my editors. Before publishing, I was mostly just writing for myself and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with the books. I still am ultimately telling the stories that I want to tell but I have a much more structured schedule because I have goals for when I need to get my stuff to my editor, my cover designer, my formatter, etc. in order to get it published on time.

Have you ever experienced “Writer’s Block”? And do you have any tips you would like to share to overcome it?
Yes! I experience it at least once for every project. My biggest tips are:

  • First, go back through what you’ve written so far and see if you can figure out where your story goes off track. The most common problems I see in my own project as well as those of my clients are either a. The characters don’t have concrete goals and so it’s harder for them to pursue whatever they’re after, or b. the pacing is either too fast or too slow because the writer is putting too much emphasis on the wrong thing.
  • Brainstorm with writer friends and try to get a new perspective on the story. 

So tell me about what you’ve written, and has it been published?
Duet Rubato is my first full-length novel, but fifth published work. I have a novella, Queen of Thieves out, and I’ve had three short stories published. Two in Fantasia Divinity Magazine and one in Curiositales Magazine.

If you’ve had your writing published, how has it been received?
I’ve been really lucky, because in general, my books have been really well-received by my readers. You can see some of my favorite reviews on my Instagram.

Is there anything you’d change or do differently now that it is published?
Honestly, no. Neither of my books are perfect, and the learning involved in producing each final product was very eye-opening. But my aim when writing and publishing has never been perfection. As long as I love the story, I learn from it, my readers enjoy it, and every book is better than the last, I’m winning.  

Speaking of publishing, how did you go about getting your book(s) published, and what was your publishing journey like?
I chose to self-publish for a myriad of reasons, the biggest being that I wanted the final say in the quality of the products going out to my readers. Publishing is invaluable in some ways, you also have to give up a lot of your control. You don’t get to pick your editor, cover, release date etc. and the copyright to your work has to leave your hands. Simply put, I’m too much of a control freak to be ready for that right now, LOL. Someday, I hope to be a hybrid author. But for now I really like the freedom that self-publishing offers.

Where can potential fans find your book(s)?
Duet Rubato (UK/US) and Queen of Thieves (UK/US) are both available on Amazon.

Did you do your own artwork for the book cover etc, and if not, how did you go about getting it done?
For this set of drawings, I actually hired two artists. Ricky Liauw from Fiverr, who also did my logo, and Staryoruu from Twitter, who made a special, limited edition piece of art used in giveaways. 

My cover art was done by Molly Phipps from We Got You Covered.

Have you taken on board anything from a review (good or bad) that you’ve later incorporated into your writing?
Someone did say that pieces of D.R (Duet Rubato) were a bit over dramatic, so that’s something I’m going to keep in mind for my next book. I’ve also gotten a bunch of awesome comments about how real my characters are, and that warms my heart. I definitely want to keep that going.  

Are you working on something new at the moment? And can you tell us anything about your current projects?
I am! I have a deadline with my editor in about a month, so I’m working hard to get my next manuscript polished in time. I don’t want to give too much away, but  I‘ll say it’s a retelling and my version involves nature magic.  

How active are you on social media? And if you have social media as an author/for your books then please share links?
I’m very active on social media, but mostly on Instagram. You can follow me for the latest updates via my website, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Tell me about some writers you really like and/or admire?
Hmm… I love Rick Riordan, Ridley Pearson, and Marissa Meyer for Fantasy/adventure and A.E. Radley, Emma Sterner Radley, Oliva Janae and Eija Jimenez for romance.

What advice would you like to give writers who are struggling with their first novels?
If I had to give one piece of advice to self-published authors, it would be to never stop learning and don’t wait for perfection. There’s no such thing as a perfect book and every book you write is going to be better than the one you wrote before it. Just do your best and put your heart into your work.

And let’s end with something a little different…Which of your character(s) would you take with you to spend the night in a haunted house? Why?
Oh gosh! My characters? I guess I have to say Yasha from Queen of Thieves cause she can pretty much handle anything.

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