Today we have another interview, this time with Claire Buss. She won 2nd place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015.
1.) What genre do you primarily write in?
My debut novel, The Gaia Effect, is a dystopian novel set 200 years in the future and my current work in progress is called The Rose Thief. It's a humorous fantasy quest set on an alternative world. My genres are definitely science fantasy.
2.) Why did you give up on becoming a reporter?
When I was little I wanted to be Lois Lane, I even spent my work experience at my local paper. It wasn't very glamorous and there were no super heroes - big disappointment. Then my careers adviser recommended a career in law so I almost went to Uni to read law. I swerved and worked in an office environment for about 15 years before finally realising creative writing was what I wanted to do. I think I decided not to be a reporter because I wanted to write my stories and not other peoples.
3.) What inspired you to write The Gaia Effect?The idea for The Gaia Effect came to me about seven years ago when I was feeling really poorly, laid up in bed. I wrote feverishly for about four pages and then put it in a box and left the idea alone. When I saw the writing competition at my local library, I think Gaia was still bubbling around in my head. I had no firm plan of what was going to happen next, I would just sit down and write a thousand words at a time and let the characters talk to me.
4.) Why should people read your work?People should read my work because there are nuggets of genius to be discovered. That's what my husband says anyway! I like to write stories with emotion and feeling, with characters that you can relate to and hopefully remind you of someone you know. I want to illicit a response, make you cry or gasp or be annoyed. If you enjoy reading, you should read as much as possible
5.) Why do you think you did so well in the Pen to Print competition?I was surprised that I came second in the Pen to Print competition, there were about 60 entrants overall so it was a huge achievement. There was a huge variety in the genre entrants - the winner was a YA paranormal story whilst third place was social commentary on young Muslims living in East London. Feedback from the judging panel was surprising at how much they enjoyed reading the book and how strong their emotional response was to events that occur.
6.) What advice do you have for aspiring authors?My advice for aspiring writers is to read as much as possible and write every day. Even if you don't know where the story is going or how to start or even how to finish - just keep writing. It's the only way to improve. Enter competitions and submit to anthologies, you never know what's going to happen. Join in with social groups on places like Facebook & Goodreads, learn from other writer's experience. Build your social media presence. And write. And write. And write. Everyday.
7.) What's the best way to connect with readers?The best way to connect with readers is to be approachable. Share some personal things on social media so your readers know a little bit about you the person as well as you the writer, whether it's your favourite TV show or the fact that you love to bake. Get involved in as many local events, support your library and indie bookshops by giving them your time. Answer queries, thank everyone for getting in touch & connecting with you and research existing social groups in your genre or topic - if you're writing about a particular historical event then it makes sense to talk to interest groups about that event, get them interested in you.
8.) What does the future hold for Claire Buss?
Hopefully my future is bright. I have lots of ideas and a real passion to continue writing. After The Rose Thief I will be working on a sequel to The Gaia Effect. I also have a short story collection that's almost finished and a book about a book club that's in early development. Now that I've found something I love doing I want to keep going.