Today I’m delighted to welcome the lovely Wendy Clarke to my blog. Wendy is a fellow Sussex resident and member of the Romantic Novelists’s Association so I’ve met her several times.  She is a hugely successful writer of short stories – Wendy’s works regularly appears in national women’s magazines such as The People’s Friend, Take a Break Fiction Feast and Woman’s Weekly. She has also written serials and a number of non-fiction magazine articles. She’s published two collections of short stories, Room in Your Heart and The Last Rose and has just finished writing her second novel. Wendy lives with her husband, cat and step-dog in Sussex and when not writing is usually dancing, singing or watching any programme that involves food!

Tell me a bit about yourself –  what do you do when you’re not writing?

I live in West Sussex and when I’m not writing you’ll find me walking my dog, Bonnie, dancing (I do ballroom, modern jive and salsa) and watching programmes about food!

Can you give me a brief picture of your personal journey as a writer (how many books? When started? etc)

My writing journey started in 2012 after I was made redundant. The private school, where I worked as an English teacher, closed and while deciding what to do next, I enrolled on an online writing course and loved it. My tutor said she thought my stories were good enough for magazines and, a few months later, I made my first sale. I have now sold over 200 stories and have written two magazine serials. Recently, I finished my second novel (a suspense) so watch this space!

How do you feed your creative engine? Where do you look, or what do you do, to keep the inspiration flowing?

A lot of the inspiration for my stories comes from things people tell me – especially my friends. I also get a lot of ideas when I’m walking my dog. They just pop into my head unexpectedly. When the well runs dry (which it does occasionally) I try not to panic but give myself time and space for the ideas to flow again.

Mark Twain said “Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are most economical in its use.” – How much of your own fiction is based on truth?

I think that there is a little bit of me in every story I write. Not just things that have happened or distant memories but feelings and emotions. In one story, I wrote about a wife hiding something under the potato peelings in the kitchen bin. My husband is convinced it’s something I must have done at some time and I am just waiting for the day I find him checking!

Tell me about your latest book and why we should all buy it?

image of cover of Wendy Clarke's Christmas Story CollectionMy latest book is my third collection of short stories, Silent Night, and this time the theme is Christmas. I put the collection together after requests from readers of my previous books. All thirteen of the stories have previously been published in national women’s magazines and are a heart-warming read for the festive period – something to dip into when you’re tired of putting up decorations.

If you could wave a magic wand and change something about your writing career what would it be?

That’s an easy one – I would have started earlier. 

What comes first – location, plot, characters?

I would say that the characters come first, followed by the plot then the location. Often. I’ll have the character’s voice in my head and just start writing. They usually take me somewhere interesting. Having said that, I always write a story after I’ve come back from a holiday, so on those occasions the setting would come first.

Tell me about your writing day. Do you work to a routine? Do you have a dedicated space to write in? Endless cups of coffee or tea?

I have no routine, I write wherever the mood takes me (usually the conservatory or the living room) and I try and limit my tea and coffee consumption or I’d be jittery by the end of the day.

Anthony Burgess once said “Literature is all, or mostly, about sex”. How true is that of your books?

You won’t find sex in my Christmas collection I’m afraid. All the stories were written for women’s magazines and probably wouldn’t have been published if they had been too raunchy.

Who or what has been the greatest help to you as a writer?

My writing chum, Tracy. She picks me up when I’m down, celebrates with me when I’ve achieved something and is very astute when it comes to my writing. I couldn’t do without her. Also, my husband for his great editing skills and the RNA New Writers’ Scheme for their fabulous critiques.

What has been the hardest thing for you to overcome in becoming an author? 

Pushing myself forward does not come naturally but it’s something I’ve had to learn to do. I think I’m getting better at it.

If you could pick one of your own characters to spend some time with, who would it be and why?

John’s daughter, Abbie, in ‘A Christmas Present Called Abbie’. She’s cute and smart and I loved creating her.

What are you working on now – or next?

At the moment, I am putting the finishing touches on my second novel and crossing my fingers an agent will like it.

Thank you very much for having me as a guest on your lovely blog, Clare.

A pleasure!   To connect with Wendy and find out more go to her blog  or follow her on Facebook and Twitter  

Clare Flynn is the author of five historical novels and a collection of short stories. To receive a free e-book of her short story selection, A Fine Pair of Shoes, and keep up to date with special offers and news from Clare, sign up here.

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