About Serena Clarke
Serena grew up in a family of itchy-footed readers and dreamers – not concentrating, reading the atlas and Narnia books, and planning to escape somewhere magical as soon as she could. When she was 16, she went from New Zealand to live in Sweden for a year. It was the beginning of many travels and adventures – and quite a few disasters! She didn’t know it at the time, but eventually she’d be grateful for all the downs as well as the ups. As writers say in the face of adversity: “I can use that.” She’s now living back in New Zealand, where she writes stories reflecting her determined belief in magic, possibility and second chances – and happy endings!
Serena, it is a pleasure to have you here. Congratulations on your February release of ‘All Over the Place’, a Crimson Romance! Your fiction writing is sweet, smart and sassy. What draws you to this genre?
It’s exactly what I like to read – and when I sit down to write, that’s what turns up! I like a story with plenty of interesting characters, snappy dialogue, and a wry kind of sensibility. I’m not a fan of dark stories – a book can still make you really think, even if it’s light in tone. Give me a sense of magic and possibility – and definitely a happy ending!
I read you have lived in 39 houses and traveled extensively…Can you describe some of the places you loved and not so loved during these times?
I loved hiking in summer snow in Swedish Lapland – despite the million-gazillion mosquitos! Riding a camel up the sand dunes as the sun rose in the Moroccan Sahara. Peering through the fence outside the White House, trying to imagine what momentous decisions were being made inside. Meeting my latest rock star crush before a gig at an underground club in London. And every single thing about Paris! Obviously there’s been a lot I didn’t love – but it’s all good material…
What do you miss the most?
Most of all, I miss the people! There are lots of amazing places to visit, but it’s people who make them really special. I have a trip planned to England and Sweden later this year, and I’m looking forward to catching up with lots of friends. I do miss being close enough to travel to other countries, and being able to experience other cultures. But New Zealand is an incredibly beautiful, peaceful place to live, and I feel really lucky to call it home.
You are very lucky to have your own happily-ever-after and hero in your life. In your book, ‘All Over the Place,’ there is a ‘family in disarray, a determined Swede, a crazed Australian and a childhood friend’. What was your inspiration in creating these marvelous characters?
You know, everyone you meet has a little something about them that’s tempting to borrow for a character! Just a snippet here, a sprinkle there… For a writer, every experience counts as ‘research’ in a way, and inspiration is everywhere. (If you meet a writer at a dinner party, just back away slowly!) I’ve been lucky to have met all kinds of people – some charming, some challenging – from all over the world, and it makes life so interesting! I enjoyed creating the same feeling in All Over the Place.
Each writer has a reason why they wrote a particular story such as children in slavery or women’s rights, good versus evil. What did your muse-heart want to bring out with these fabulous characters?
I’m really interested in the idea of what home means, especially in these international times – that it’s not just about where, but also about who. We all have so many more options these days, which in some ways makes it harder to know where or who we should be – or be with! I wanted to throw everything wide open for Livi, give her some challenges, and see where her heart took her.
When is your next book out? Are you able to give us a sneak peek inside?
The next one is a work in progress – that I’m enjoying very much! It’s set between England and California, and involves matchmaking, loss and acceptance, secrets and sandcastles, people power in a hyper-connected world, true love, and the trials and joys of sisterhood. It feels a bit dangerous to say too much though. Anne Tyler summed it up: “The secret of writing is to pretend to yourself that no one will see it, ever, an illusion which is shattered by talking about it.” Well said, as always!
Thanks for having me on Hipwaders vs Heels Kay – it was a lot of fun!
You are very welcome, Serena. I had an amazing time!
About All Over the Place – contemporary romantic fiction with a chick lit feel.
Livi Callaway has fled back to London after a reality TV disaster in New Zealand. Safely anonymous in the big city, she’s determined to stay under the radar from now on. But her attempts to build a new life are complicated by unexpected visitors from her old one, and new dangers and temptations lie in wait.
Late one night, she meets a mysteriously sexy American on the Underground – and the events that follow take her from Pooh Bear to the golden lights of Paris, via a trail of rock stars dead and alive. A family in disarray, a determined Swede, a crazed Australian and a childhood friend (who might yet be more than that) have her all over the place as she tries to discover the American’s secret – while keeping her own.
With help – and occasional hindrance – from her friends, what she eventually finds is something unexpected…sometimes, running away can lead you to exactly what you didn’t know you needed.
All Over the Place is available at all major e-book retailers, including:
Find Serena here – she’d love to hear from you!
What does HFO stand for? <grin> Read on!
For those who email me with the correct answer on what ‘HFO’ stands for to firstname.lastname@example.org, beginning 2/6/13 and ending midnight on 2/12/13, your name will be entered for a drawing of a $10 Amazon gift card. The winner will be announced on Valentine’s Day and a list of those entered for the drawing will appear on my blog on 2/13/13.
There comes a day when we have all said ‘HFO’. These are some of my HFO’s on what I refuse to give up in life…
-Sell a human being out
-My lace <grin> for me to know
-Bold coffee that kicks my ass (and tastebuds) in gear each morning
-Eye candy now and then (Shhh…this is my little secret as my son already has a problem with me shopping at VS and other stores – how does he know? lol He does laundry now and then.)
-Fighting for what I believe in
-My portable soapbox on human rights and advocating for others
Hope your HFO’s are fun and steadfast!
Seduce. Lure. Captivate.
These words speak volumes as writers, readers, agents and publishers in seducing to read past the query, the synopsis, the blurb, the first three chapters to the very last page.
It all starts with our writing. The seduction of our heroes and heroines. Showing versus telling. Three dimensional and not two dimensional. It is our responsibility to make sure we don’t submit prematurely, selling out the love of our hero and heroine from receiving that happily-ever-after to making it to the shelves to captivate readers. I have invited Ines Saint, Crimson Romance Author, to share how she has made that happily-ever-after happen for her heroes and heroines.
(Kay) Ines, you are an author of two very captivating, heart-felt books, ‘Strangers in the Night’ and ‘Charmed’, how would you describe your muse and your relationship with her?
(Ines) Hi Kay! First of all, thank you so much for your kind words and for inviting me over. Hipwaders vs Heels is a very cool place to be and I’m always happy to chat with a friend.
I’ve come to think of my muse as a sort of trance I’m very happy to fall into, where ideas flow and time fades away. I love being there… but my relationship with my muse is often rocky and unstable. I never know when I’ll be taken away like that. There are days when it’s a struggle to write 300 words, and there are days when getting 4,000 words down is a breeze and pure bliss. Most days fall somewhere in between the trance and the struggle.
(Kay) You’re welcome, Ines! Which brings me to my next question 🙂 Tonight my friend left wine at the door…my heroine thanked her profusely, afraid my muse was going to create some really awkward hot scenes…what helps your muse when your hero & heroine first meet, the first kiss, getting through the black moment to happily ever after when it’s difficult?
I’m stuck on the fact that a friend left wine at your door…I love that! How sweet. Strangely enough, I’ve never sipped wine while writing, but now I just have to try it.
I’m always inspired by music, and I enjoy all kinds, so that really helps. Sometimes, it’s a subtle, seductive love song from the forties that helps me feel how my hero and heroine are falling in love, sometimes it’s a really sappy ballad from the seventies they I imagine one of them skulking to, and other times it’s a fun, meaningless eighties pop number that shows me the way. And then there’s vanilla tea. I drink plenty of it while writing. It’s really calming.
(Kay) You are so right…music does wonders for the writing, Ines.
In writing a happily-ever-after, or any kind of book, there is more following that final edit and save…for some it’s the hardest parts — query letters, coming up with the perfect blurb on the back of the book cover to the synopsis. Which did your muse find the most challenging and how did she, or you, get through it?
(Ines) I think my muse finds each of those equally challenging and frustrating because she always abandons me when it’s time to summarize. Writing the synopsis makes me want to pull my hair out! The only way for me to get through it is to keep plugging away at them, and to accept I’m probably never going to be 100% happy with the blurb.
(Kay) If you could give one suggestion how to seduce a publisher on each of the following: query letters, blurbs & synopsis to a new writer starting out…what would it be?
(Ines) You know, I usually don’t think I have advise to give to writers, but thinking on your question, I realize I’ve learned a few things. With query letters, I’d advise new writers to make sure their voice comes through in the summary, and to be be polite and professional. I’d tell them to pinpoint what makes their hook different and to incorporate it into their blurb (no easy to task for me), and I’d tell them to work on their synopsis as they’re writing their book. Jot down the important plot points and the little moments that stand out. I’m doing this now with my work in progress and it’s giving me a framework for the dreaded synopsis.
Thank you, Ines, for a wonderful interview. Our talks are always fun and upbeat, just like your blog at www.authorinessaint.blogspot.com. I can’t wait until your next book comes out, especially, after hearing hints of what is to come.
Readers, Ines Saint is a writer who lures, captivates and seduces in a sweet way, resembling ‘The Hallmark’ channel.
I would love to hear from readers, writers, agents and publishers on what seduces, captivates and lures them to investing in a book.
Have a wonderful day!
‘Hipwaders vs Heels’ was created, heart and soul, through business choices which needed hipwaders and a strong sense of humor at times. I don’t regret the choices I’ve made, because I would not be where I am today…a woman who has learned much and embraces her journey in life, including the attitude that comes with it after the age of 40.
(‘Truth in Aging’ gives insight to Andy Rooney’s take on women over 40…http://www.truthinaging.com/beauty-360/cbss-andy-rooney-on-women-over-40)
Every woman, no matter what age, longs to feel feminine and sexy. Her heels reflect her attitude, style or surroundings; and along the way, whether she realizes it or not, has stashed a pair of hipwaders in the back of her closet for those days she needs to advocate, handle business or wade through the bull (all with a smile, of course).
‘Hipwaders vs Heels’ will show many sides…as an author to the humor of being a single mother and anywhere in between…
No matter where you are in your journey…I wish you much success and happiness!
I would love to hear how you keep the humor in your life?