About Claire Gem:
Claire Gem writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance, sometimes with a paranormal twist. A voracious reader, she’s an avid fan of strong but sensitive heroes, spunky, sexy heroines, and a ghost story worth at least a few goose bumps.
Claire’s vision is to transport her readers into another place and time, maybe spooking them along the way. She loves creating characters so real, readers miss them when the book is closed.
After achieving her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, Claire settled in central Massachusetts with her husband of 36 years (yes, happily-ever-after really does happen). Always fascinated by the paranormal, she holds a Certificate in Paranormal Studies from Duke University’s Rhine’s Research Center.
By day, she works for Tufts University. Every other waking hour (even those when she should be sleeping) she spends exercising the creative side of her brain by flexing those ten digits glued to her keyboard. Chased by those pesky ghosts, Claire writes for her life.
What inspires you to write?
I’ve always loved to write – I’m basically a creative person and have worked in diverse professions including hairdressing and bridal gown design. I love history, and I love the paranormal. All of these things push me to sit down a the keyboard day after day after day…
Tell us about your writing process.
I started out as a pantser, and that’s how Phantom Traces came to be. The work was my first successful NaNoWriMo project in 2012, and by Nov. 30 I had 54,000 words and The End. But that was just the beginning.
Since then, I’ve learned great concepts don’t always pan out into great plots. I’ve learned, with the help of many craft books and seminars, including “Rock Your Plot” by Cathy Yardley, to produce an outline, no matter how sparse, covering the main plot points, including the ending. With this skeleton, I find it’s much easier to know what comes next when I sit down at the keyboard.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My characters often wake me up in the middle of the night to tell me what comes next in the story, or when I’ve gone off course. I listen.
On the other hand, I often scream at my monitor when I’ve just finished typing a scene where a character has taken control, changing the story from the way I was imagining it. I scold them, but in the end, they usually get their way.
What advice would you give other writers?
Read as many books in your chosen genre as you can. Listen to audiobooks on your commute. Absorb the rhythms of the words, feel the flow of the story arcs. Then sit down and open your work in progress.
Don’t give up. Until you’ve papered one wall with rejection slips, you can’t call yourself a writer.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Realizing my dream of publication as a debut novelist with one of the “Big 5” New York publishers was improbable, I queried small publishers and pitched to them at conferences. I sold my first three books to small publishers.
I’m now seeking agent representation for my women’s fiction with the hope my writing has improved enough to achieve my ultimate goal of the Big 5.
I’m giving it a year or so, when I will have 2-3 books out there and have developed a following. Then I will explore the self-publishing avenue.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Fewer big advance contracts by the Big 5, and these megapowers will read fewer query letters and shop for new authors on the self-published lists. We’re actually making their job easier for them, since by self-publishing, they can see how the public receives our work before they invest a dime.
What do you use?: Beta Readers, Professional Cover Designer, Professional Editor
What genres do you write?: Romance, Romance/Paranormal, Women’s Fiction, Memoir
What formats are your books in?: eBook
Claire Gem Home Page Link