I really love how Writer Wednesday is connecting me to artists of all different types. This week I interviewed British musician and author Clare Worley. Below you’ll find links to listen to samples of her music and read some of her writing on Wattpad. Don’t forget to say hi to her on Twitter, too!
Hi Clare! Let’s start with a little bit about you. Can you describe your typical writing day?
During the week, I aim to do some scribbling in my notebook during my lunchbreak as a bare minimum. On sunny days that’s up on the building’s roof garden where I have the best view in London: the City of London to the left, the London Eye nestled behind other buildings straight ahead and the BT Tower (a giant sonic screwdriver as far as my imagination believes) to the right.
Sometimes I get writing done after work but between the stress there, pop culture distractions and my exertions at the gym, that’s easier said than done.
The vast majority of focused work is on Saturday and Sunday mornings, in one my chosen branches of brand-name coffee shops. Mostly the approach is one of frustrated avoidance as I try to eliminate all social media and fandom distractions, while trying to make an iced latte last as long as I can.
Tell me about your book, Walking in the Shadowlands.
The basic blurb:
In 1970, Rosalie Cochran was a mostly-ordinary barmaid when extraordinary rockers Shadowlands crashed into her world. Thirty-five years later, as reigning empress of British popular music, Rosalie puts her side of the story across: how a girl like her survived the crazed Seventies and excessive Eighties with her soul intact… mostly.
It spans the complex history of a rock band as they fought – first for fame and then to keep it – as told from the perspective of the singer they fired only to see her make it even bigger on her own.
A bit more:
The band is partly American, partly from London. There’s a virtuoso guitarist called JD Twain who is also beautiful and more charming than Errol Flynn crossed with Clark Gable; the singer-pianist is an intense London Irishman called Liam Byrne. The novel touches on pop culture, politics and society at the time, but it’s also an attempt to consider what manner of people join bands and why, and most of all: what is the truth, really?
In a band of five people, there are at least six or seven versions of the truth floating around, and that’s before considering the myths and legends that the rest of us seem to constantly inflict upon our heroes.
What is your publishing plan?
I’m currently submitting it to agents here in London and I’m living through the ‘receipt of feedback’ phase. I refuse now to call them rejections, if only for the good health of my soul.
You’re also a singer and songwriter. What are some of your long-term goals for both your writing and your music career?
I’m going to write some of the songs mentioned in WitS but it’s been awhile since I wrote anything so I need to flick the switch in my head to “songmode”. Music is something I’d like to do more of but… real life does get in the way. Mostly I’d like for the blues band I sing with to find time for more gigs. They’re an amazing group of musicians and the loose blues-psych rock vibe we now have is really something very special.
In terms of goals, I have to approach everything with the belief that “fame, fortune and success” are in my reach. I don’t assume that they are, but I have to believe it’s possible.
To truly live my vocation and be able to write full time and play music as well? That would be magnificent.
What is your most challenging aspect of writing?
Myself. Always. I can blame ‘lack of time’ or ‘tiredness’ or even ‘the bloody internet’ but I can procrastinate in an empty room during a power cut.
The cut-n-thrust of marketing myself, getting the work out there… that’s also not at all a natural state of affairs for me, which is why I’d rather try trad publishing routes before self-pub: they have the skill set that I don’t.
Who is your biggest supporter?
I used to think that writing was a solitary profession. I now know that while the activity itself can be incredibly isolated, there’s a whole gang of people who have my back. It’s no exaggeration to say that my best friend Natasha helped me rebuild myself after the dreaded secondary school years so that I could even consider completing such a huge project.
For WitS there are so, so many people but the co-captains of the cheerleading squad are a voracious reader friend Rachel (a founder member of the review blog The Book Eaters), and my writer friend Laura. Both of them have given so much time and effort into reading scenes and drafts, in talking it all over with me since the beginning and most of all: pushing me to send it out into the world.
What are you working on now?
A couple of things. One is a sequel to a short story I posted on Authonomy (RIP) which is now on Wattpad: Maria Goes To Dublin… which is actually turning into such a monster that it’s possible MGTD is actually just a prequel to it. It includes rock stars (again) but only as a side issue to family tensions, girl-loves-boy-loves-girl-back-but-thinks-she-has-a-crush-on-his-dad and a road trip across England and Ireland.
I have more than 50 things I’ve started over the years and sometimes I’ll return to them briefly. One, which I started when I was 19, is about a girl who finds herself unexpectedly queen of her country after her father dies and her brother abdicates. It’s all a bit Thronesy (the fictional region is even called The West and war ensues) and some of the writing is… exactly what a 19 year old with a half-decent command of English would write. Yet, I can’t bring myself to totally abandon in.
And if that wasn’t enough, I’m looking to resurrect my pop culture blog habits – I’m reposting things from the ‘vault’ that is my old blog… and here’s to getting more new posts written!
Lots of things, in other words, which is part of the challenge. Finding focus is not my talent.
Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?
Yes, absolutely, but when asked why I write, there is only one real answer: I write because it is simply too painful not to. The idea of a blank piece of paper bothers me, so I’ll fill it. Rejection hurts but writer’s block? Far worse.
What book are you reading now?
I don’t read as much as I should – or rather, I don’t read as much good stuff as I should. Currently I’m about a third of the way through Frankenstein, which is not wholly engaging me but which is pleasantly different to what I’d expected.
I’ve just finished A Clockwork Orange which I absolutely adored for the nadsat teen language and for the questions of the soul and goodness that it raises.
Where can we find you on social media?
Everywhere, almost! On Twitter I’m @clareworley.
My complete short(ish) story is available free on Wattpad.
You can also find WitS on Facebook.
Walking in the Shadowlands
Maria Goes to Dublin (Free on Wattpad!)
The Randall Brothers Band were one of the most successful rock bands of the 1970s, until their mercurial lead singer Jody died in a B&B near Lake Windermere. His brother Dion, the band’s guitarist and songwriter, then disappeared from sight. More than 20 years later, myths, whispers and legends still swirl about Dion Randall’s true fate.
In 2008, young fan Maria wants to find him, if only to say ‘thanks for the music’. With, the surviving band members are in Dublin for a special anniversary show, Maria is determined to seize the chance to look for Dion at the same time, and she’s dragged her unsuspecting best friend along for the adventure. A chance meeting with the band’s gorgeous, ageing bass player jolts Maria’s entire life off its axis, and she gets a tumultuous lesson in love, grief and the very great value of a best friend.
Thank you so much for reading! Make sure you follow Clare on her social media to keep up to date with future publishing and music news! If you would like to be featured on Writer Wednesday, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.