My First Time...with Clare Empson


Clare Empson, The Riff Raff

Clare Empson spent the first half of her career working on national newspapers, covering everything from fashion to finance, and she had tea with the romantic novelist Barbara Cartland shortly before she died (everything was pink including the cakes). When she moved to the country she founded a lifestyle and culture blog Country Calling and started writing her novel debut novel, HIM.

Clare will be reading and dispensing advice at The Riff Raff on Thursday 8th November and we would love for you to join us...

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Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book? It happened when we moved from South London to Wiltshire ten years ago. We were renting on an almost absurdly bucolic country estate to begin with, day old lambs gambolling in the drive, a pond brimming with tiny tadpoles and a park full of deer. I thought it would be interesting to turn the idyll on its head and create something really dark!

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write it? How long it was going to take – nine years. But then again if I’d known beforehand I probably have given up. In a funny way I’m glad it took so long, not to say I don’t still have moments of feeling like an imposter, but I do feel like maybe I earned it!

What did you enjoy most about writing it?

Perhaps because I took so long over it I knew my characters so well they were almost like friends. I honestly looked forward to spending time with them. Catherine and Lucian in particular were just in my head for so many years and when each new edit came back from the agent or publisher I felt a sense of relief that I could get back to them. It was such a wrench when I finished the final edit and had to let them go!

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And the worst part? I guess it’s the self doubt which never goes away for very long. You think you’re going to be over it once you get a book deal but then you start worrying that book two is absolute pants. I formed a writers group with two other writers ten years ago and that’s the best thing I ever did because we talk each other down when the doubt hits.

What’s your go-to procrastination method? I read an interview with Lisa Jewell recently where she said working from home is like being in the middle of a department store. I so agree, I can start window

shopping for the most bizarre items to avoid writing. Recently I’ve taken the drastic step of renting an office with no WiFi.

Go-to writing snacks? See above – my other go to procrastination method is making snacks. Toast with marmite, toast with avocado, toast with pretty much anything.