My First Time...with Clare Fisher
Clare Fisher was born in Tooting, south London in 1987. After accidentally getting obsessed with writing fiction when she should have been studying for a BA in History at the University of Oxford, she completed an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths College in London. Much of Clare's writing is inspired by her long-standing interest in social exclusion and the particular ways in which it affects vulnerable women and girls. All The Good Things is Clare's first novel and is out on June 1st. It will be followed by a collection of very short fiction, How the Light Gets In, which will be published by Influx Press in 2018. Clare lives in Leeds, where she spends her time writing her second novel, selling books and teaching creative writing. What a hero!
Here's the intriguing blurb for All The Good Things:
What if you did a very bad thing but that wasn't the end of the story? Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn't deserve ever to feel good again. But her counsellor, Erika, won't give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby's head. But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing. What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone - even a 100% bad person - deserve a chance to be good?
All the Good Things is a story about redemption and hope for fans of Nathan Filer, Stephen Kelman and Emma Healey.
Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book. I was in bed. I wanted to do what people usually do when they are in bed, i.e. sleep. But a voice popped into my head. It was a woman who’d done something so bad, she was convinced she was a bad thing or even no thing. I got out of bed and scribbled it down, and Beth, the narrator of my novel, developed from there.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write it? That there will be many, many moments where you’re not sure where you’re going or how things will work out but that is no reason to freak out: just be patient!
What’s your go-to procrastination method? Twitter and Peanut butter.
What was the biggest tantrum you had while writing your book? When, mid-way through a period of furious rewriting and revising at 6am, 10pm, 1pm, any time I could find around my job, I bought a printer so I could send the manuscript off to a competition and I could not get it to work. I yelled and cried and when my boyfriend came home to find me sitting in a nest of ink and paper and wires, he was quite horrified (and rightly so!).
Best thing about writing your book?
That point in the writing when your fictional world is all around you and the moment your fingers hit the keyboards you’re off! You type and you type and before you know it an hour or a morning has gone by. It’s not so much a matter of you directing your characters as them tugging at you.
And the worst? All the times (and these are far more frequent than the rushes of inspiration I’ve just described) when you write or try to write but it comes out flat. The spark is missing. You need to take a break, do something else, read, talk, walk. But if you are me, you will push yourself to a quite ridiculous degree before admitting this. Again, it’s just a matter of trying to stay calm and patience.
Go-to writing snacks?
Peanut butter. Grapes. Peanut butter. Grapes. Peanut butter. Grapes…
Who or what inspires you to write? I’m always on the lookout for the words beneath the ones people say. The book beneath the book you read. Sometimes you glimpse it, mostly you don’t. But it’s when you feel as if that hidden world is opening up — just for a second, a minute, that is when you think, I want to go there.
The book that changed you? So many! I’d probably have to say The Collected Stories by Lorrie Moore.
Your pump up song? Redondo Beach by Patti Smith. Pretty much anything by Patti Smith.
If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer dead or alive, who would it be? Leonora Carrington. I’m reading The Debutante and Other Stories at the moment and I’m pretty sure she would be a brilliant drinking partner.
One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get a book published? Seek out constructive criticism and absorb it. It may hurt at first but it will do you and your writing the world of good. Believe in yourself even and especially when it feels like no one else does. But mostly: be patient.
Mini to-do list...