Recently, I had the pleasure of doing an interview with #kidlit author extraordinaire R.A. Clarke. She’s a renaissance woman, having achieved some impressive personal and professional accomplishments with many more on the horizon. She was kind enough to share her story with me and a little about her writing style.
I featured her book, Oh That's Good... in my post Writing What You Know. It's an extremely helpful writing prompt guide for anyone starting a writing journey.
I’m so excited to be speaking with you! Would you mind sharing a little about yourself?
Sure thing! I am a former police officer turned stay-at-home mom living in Canada with my husband, two young boys, and a faithful pooch. I am an autism mom and a complex PTSD survivor. I love animals, quadding and getting out to the lake and participating in my awesome writing group.
I write & illustrate children’s literature, and I am currently working on book two in the Oliver’s Adventures chapter book series (for ages 7-10). I’m proud to say the first book in that series, called The Big Ol’ Bike was a finalist for the Hindis Libraries Females of Fiction Award in 2021.
I have been fortunate enough to win both The Writer’s Games and Writers Weekly international competitions, and got named a 2021 Futurescapes Award finalist. My work can be read on my website, and in various publications, including Sinister Smile Press, Cloaked Press LLC, and Polar Borealis Magazine, among others.
Stylistically I write multi-genre short fiction, with a preference toward speculative fiction. I have drafted a YA epic fantasy novel, an adult science fiction novel and I am half-finished writing a YA science fiction novel. There are many more novels rolling around in my head, too-- many of them science fiction, which is where my heart seems to linger the most. I just need more time to write them all!
What does your writing and revision process look like?
I used to be a big time plantser (a pantser with a touch of plotting in the mix), and I still am when it comes to penning my short fiction. But after writing my first novel and feeling completely overwhelmed by the substantial editing required after finishing a very muddled first draft, I decided to try plotting for my next novel. I didn't think I'd like it, but found I really did. I plotted a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline, and having that roadmap made writing the novel a dream. Of course things changed along the way, which is to be expected and entirely okay. I jotted down the changes and rolled with it. I can't see myself working any other way now.
I think all of us writers just have to try things out and discover what works best for us and how we write as individuals. As for revision, I'm still in the midst of that process with the novel I wish to query this year. Thus far, I've done three drafts and then sent it off to beta readers. Once that invaluable feedback is returned, I'll do one or two more self-editing/revision passes. Then I've arranged for an editor to have a look, just to clean up whatever grammar there will be, and then I plan to start querying. That's all I can say right now. I guess we shall see if a few more drafts turn into twenty more drafts as time goes on!
What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
My favourite thing about being a writer is the fact I get to be as creative as I want, and dive into the gritty or fantastical worlds I create. I get to sink into different character's personalities, travel, and live different lives for short periods of time.
I adore bringing smiles, gasps, tears, chills, or any other reaction to readers with my stories. Just like when I policed, I thrived on knowing perhaps my actions--no matter how big or small--may have helped or touched someone's life in a good way. It's similar when it comes to my writing. It's fulfilling when I receive feedback from a reader that my writing has positively impacted them somehow.
What advice do you have for new/debut authors?
My advice for new authors would be to find an uplifting writing group and/or critique partner(s) that you trust and can learn from. Also, take the opportunity to beta read for other writers. It's amazing how much you can learn from other writers. It will feel fulfilling to help your writing buddies out, and they will hopefully want to help you out in the same way. Lastly, you should write a lot.
Seriously... just write. Practice your craft. Dabble in different genres. Stretch your comfort zones. Try out a writing contest. Take a writing course that pushes you to create new work.
Doing so has been very rewarding to me, and it's amazing how much I've seen my own writing improve over the years. Putting in the work to learn and level up your writing is never a bad thing.
What is the hardest part about writing, in your opinion?
I think the hardest part for me is keeping up motivation and enthusiasm in the face of rejection. Rejection is part of the game, and most of the time, I can keep trucking and not dwell too much on the "no's" that roll in. But every now and then they pile up, or something hits a little harder (it can depend on the project, I think), and I have to do some internal work, maybe take a short break (I also do this if I get too much on my plate and I need to avoid burnout), and vent with some of my writing buddies as a way to help me move past it.
The other hardest things are finding a healthy writing and home/family-life balance. I have many big dreams and goals writing-wise, and while I am determined to keep moving forward in that regard, my family remains my top priority at the end of the day.
Who is your personal favorite author? Or what is your favorite book?
There are so many wonderful and talented authors out there. I'll start with some favourites. I love Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone (the whole series). Hunger Games (whole series) by Suzanne Collins. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (whole series) by Ransom Riggs. Unwind by Neal Shusterman. The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I Am Number Four (entire series) by Pittacus Lore. Oh, and anything by Jane Austen!
I'm sure after learning more about R.A. Clarke, you've become a #fangirl like me! Make sure you check out her writing journey on Twitter @raclarkewrites or on Instagram @rachaelclarkewrites. Or hop on over to her website and dive in to her incredible artist portfolio.