My guest for today's blog post is novelist Anne Clare, author of Whom Shall I Fear? and her newest book, the recently released Where Shall I Flee? She also has available an interesting volume for this time of year, a work titled Wartime Christmas Tales: A World War II Flash Fiction Anthology.
Although Anne grew up in southern Minnesota, she currently lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she not only writes but also teaches half-time and is a church musician. But she considers her primary responsibility to be caring for her "husband, three children, and a small menagerie of animals."
In spite of having all these many irons in the fire simultaneously, she still somehow finds time to research and write. She also graciously carved out time to be interviewed for this blog.
Dennis L. Peterson: Welcome, Anne, and thank you for taking time for this interview. How and when did you begin your writing career, and what was the motivating factor that sparked your writing?
Anne Clare: Thanks so much for inviting me! I've always enjoyed writing and had done a bit here and there, but I don't now if I would have pursued publication seriously at this stage of life if we hadn't had major household plumbing issues five or six years ago. I was a full-time mom, at home with my three children, half of our house was out of commission (including the bathroom for a few weeks!). The bills were mounting, and I couldn't even take the kids out to local parks because we were perpetually waiting for the next repairman to stop by.
Writing became my catharsis--a way to relieve some of the stress and a way to go somewhere else through imagination while the kids napped. I drafted my first novel, which was based on a dream I'd had. It wasn't until the story was about halfway done that I thought about working toward publication. Of course, that meant taking that first draft and doing a huge amount of research and editing to get it ready for other eyes than mine!
DLP: How do you juggle all of your multiple responsibilities and still find time to research and write?
AC: Some days, I'm not sure I'm juggling so much as trying to keep my head above water!
Early in my writing journey, I had to learn the importance of two things: setting clear personal goals and then making sure those goals fit my life.
If I were going to publish, I wanted to be certain that I had done the very best work that I was capable of. At the same time, if it came down to taking care of my family's needs or being there for my kids (biological or students) versus writing, the writing would have to take a back seat. Because of this, I decided that traditional publishing wasn't going to work for me, nor was publishing as a full-time career, at least not for the time being. I needed to be able to set my own pace and to tackle projects as I could. I needed to be able to set projects aside, too, when sick kids or end-of-quarter grading or other things came up without feeling guilty about it.
I decided to publish independently, and it's been a good fit. It gives me the flexibility I need. Of course, I couldn't have done as much as I have without a phenomenal team of people. The editors, formatter, cover designer, and several of my beta readers that I've worked with are, besides being tremendously talented people, also moms with full lives--they understand the craziness, and we work with and around each other's schedules! I've had a number of other friends, including several writers, who've been kind and supportive and offered help, advice, insight, and reviews.
DLP: Both of your books are set in the World War II era. What motivated your obvious interest in that era?
AC: My grandpa was a World War II veteran, serving with the 86th Infantry Division (the Blackhawk Division). While he never talked about the war, I'd grown up seeing bits of memorabilia around his house. We read about the war years in school, of course, and my imagination was particularly caught by fiction based in that era. A couple of my favorite grade school novels were Number the Stars and Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan.
As an adult, I find it fascinating to see just how much of our life today, from technological advances to the popularity of boxed mac 'n' cheese, tie back to the war years.
One of my children asked me why I like to write about war. It's not so much war that I like to write about. War is a terrible thing. But against such a dark backdrop, the good things--acts of courage, of kindness, of faith, and of humanity--stand out the brighter.
DLP: Yes, I remember reading Snow Treasure, too, as a kid. Both your writing and mine illustrate the truth that we tend to write what we also enjoy reading most. Yours is fiction and mine is nonfiction!
We're out of space for this session, but I look forward to continuing this conversation in the next post. Meanwhile, you readers might want to check out Anne's books, Where Shall I Flee? and Whom Shall I Fear? Both of them are available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions. Thank you, Anne Clare, and we look forward to your joining us again next week.