Welcome to Clare Harvey one of the talented contenders for this year's Joan Hessayon Award and graduate of the RNA New Writers' Scheme. Thank you for answering our questions, Clare.
Since I was on maternity leave with my son, who is just about to turn 14 (Everyone says writing is a long apprenticeship…)!
Is this your first published piece?
Yes, although it’s the fourth full-length novel I’d completed since beginning to write seriously.
How many years were you a member of the NWS and did you submit a manuscript each year?
I have been in the NWS on and off since 2003 (there was a long break because I had twins in 2005, when my son had just turned three – they were premature and one of them has additional needs – so for a few years I barely had time to go to the loo, let alone think up plotlines). It was with my third attempt, in 2014, that things really came together and produced the story that became The Gunner Girl. But it wouldn’t have happened without the perceptive feedback and encouragement of my NWS reader – whoever it was, I owe them a pint!
What came first, agent or publisher?
Teresa Chris picked me up pretty quickly after I started sending out my manuscript, and I was incredibly lucky that she found a publisher almost immediately. I started sending out the manuscript to agents and entering it into competitions in September 2014, signed with Teresa at the end of October 2014 and had a two-book deal with Simon & Schuster by the end of November 2014. So, in the end, it all happened very quickly – but it was a long time coming!
How did you find your publisher?
Through my agent.
Do you have a contract for one book or more?
When was your book published?
Hardback 8 October 2015; Paperback 25 February 2016.
Tell us something about your book
The Gunner Girl plaits the storylines of three teenage girl soldiers working on the anti-aircraft guns in wartime London. Inspired my mother-in-law’s time as a gunner girl, and written whilst my husband was away in Afghanistan with the British Army, it’s a wartime drama, written from the heart.
I’ve just finished the spin-off to The Gunner Girl, called Yvette’s War, which will be out in hardback in the autumn, and paperback next year. I felt that one of the characters in the first book hadn’t quite finished her journey, so I’ve given her a story of her own, taking her off into wartime Paris at the height of WW2. I’ve twisted my fictitious character’s story around some real-life figures and events. I have absolutely loved writing Yvette’s War – the research was fascinating.
What piece of advice would you give current members of the NWS?
Accept feedback as if it’s a gift, and never, ever give up.
Thank you, Clare, we hope you have a fabulous evening at the RNA Summer Party and good luck with your writing career.
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