Monday, May 2, 2016

Joan Hessayon Award contender 2016: Sophie Claire

Today we welcome Sophie Claire, another 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, Sophie.

How long have you been writing? Is this your first published piece?
Her Forget-Me-Not Ex is my first published novel, and I’ve been writing seriously for about ten years. Before that it was a hobby which I squeezed in around looking after my children who were babies/toddlers at the time. I used to write while they napped, and my mother-in-law would babysit once a week so I could go to my local writing group. Once the children were both at school things became a lot easier and I realised that writing wasn’t just a hobby, but a compulsion. That’s when I started thinking of it as my profession and I began attending writing courses and submitting my work for critique. It was on one of those writing courses that I heard about the RNA and the New Writers’ Scheme.

How many years were you a member of the NWS and did you submit a manuscript each year?
I was a member of the NWS for 8 years and submitted 7 novels – so almost one each year. Being part of the scheme was an invaluable experience for me and I learned so much from it. I blogged about it here. I also met many friends and mentors along the way, and I recommend the scheme to all aspiring romance writers.

What came first, agent or publisher?
Publisher. I’d love to find an agent – fingers crossed!

How did you find your publisher?
I booked a one-to-one with Accent Press at the RNA conference and sent them the first chapter of Her Forget-Me-Not Ex. They then asked to see the full manuscript, and contacted me within a fortnight to make an offer. I’d never had such a speedy response from a publisher before – I was really impressed.

When was your book published?
It was published in May 2015, which was great timing because it’s a very summery book, set mainly in sunny Provence.

Tell us something about your book
Natasha has consigned her wealthy French ex-husband Luc to the past, so she’s horrified when he turns up at her village florist’s shop out of the blue, pleading for help. He never dared to tell his family about the divorce, and when he asks her to come to France and pretend they’re still married for a couple of weeks to please his sick father, she’s not sure she can say no. She certainly isn’t prepared for the warmth of his family’s welcome, or the attraction that’s still simmering between her and Luc.
But it’s just two weeks in a vineyard, no strings attached, right?

What are you currently working on?
I’m working on my next book which is set in a picturesque fishing village in the south of France. One of the perks of my job is that no matter what the weather here in Manchester is like, I can escape to the sunshine and heat of Provence with my characters.

What piece of advice would you give current members of the NWS?
Believe in yourself and keep writing. It can be so hard to keep faith in your work when the rejections are rolling in, but they’re inevitable I’m afraid. So get support wherever you can get it – be it from a writing group or a critique partner – and listen to the positive feedback you get about your work as well as the parts you need to work on. I’m lucky enough to have the most supportive critique partner as well as the group, Novelistas Ink, who are always on hand if I need support or advice. I couldn’t do without them.

Twitter @SClaireWriter

Thank you, Sophie, we hope you have a fabulous evening at the RNA Summer Party and good luck with your writing career.

The RNA blog is brought to you by

Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman


anne stenhouse said...

Good morning, Sophie, from wet and unseasonably cold Edinburgh. I may get back under the downie and re-read Her Forget-Me-Not Ex. So many of us will echo what you say about the RNA NWS and conference 1-2-1s. aren't we lucky to have them? Good luck in the award, anne stenhouse

Unknown said...

Lovey blog-post Sophie. all the very best of luck with For-Get-Me-Not Ex.
What a brilliant title, bound to catch the eye. Looking forward to reading this one.

Unknown said...

Lovely interview, Sophie. Have a great night at the awards, enjoy every minute, and congratulations on being published! Love the cover and as Cathy says, what a great title. Julie x

Sophie Claire said...

Thanks Anne - yes the industry appointments are invaluable, especially for getting feedback on work.

Thanks Cathy and Julie - I'm really looking forward to the awards night. Should be a great evening for all involved.