It’s a pleasure to introduce you to Claire Huston. I met Claire at an author meet-up a little while ago and was very interested to hear about her forthcoming book.
Q. Your first book, Art and Soul, is due out on April 23rd this year. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
A. Art and Soul is an uplifting, contemporary romance featuring love, art and cake.
The main character, struggling single mother Becky Watson, longs to revive her career as a life-fixer, working miracles to solve her clients’ problems, no matter how big or small. Since the birth of her two-year-old son she has been stuck preventing wedding fiascos for the richest and rudest residents of the Comptons, a charming, leafy area of southern England known for its artistic heritage.
So when semi-reclusive local artist Charlie Handren reluctantly hires Becky to fix his six-year creative slump, she’s delighted to set him up with a come-back exhibition and Rachel Stone, the woman of his dreams.
Though they get off to a rocky start, Becky and Charlie soon become close. But as the beautiful Rachel becomes Charlie’s muse, Becky is forced to wonder: will giving Charlie everything he wants mean giving up her own happily ever after?
Q. You’re a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. How useful did you find that in helping you to finish Art and Soul?
A. I’d already finished Art and Soul when I submitted it to the NWS for critique. The feedback I got was insightful and positive. This encouragement was something I clung to when receiving rejections from agents and publishers and I began to wonder whether the book was terrible! It gave me the confidence to keep going rather than binning it.
Q. You blog about cakes as well as writing. How do you find the two mix?
A. Books and baked goods of all kinds are a natural fit! Who doesn’t like a hot drink and a slice of cake while reading a good book?
Q. You have a beautiful cover. How did you come up with that idea?
A. I built a Pinterest board with images which I think had the right feel for the story and the cover. These included pictures of people in galleries looking at paintings and some of them were very romantic. There are two important scenes in the book where the two main characters view pictures together. So these scenes, together with the photos, gave me the idea for the cover. I did a truly awful pencil sketch of my idea, which the cover designer turned into something lovely.
Q. Your novel is a contemporary romance. What do you most enjoy about writing in that genre?
A. It is wonderful to be able to guarantee a happy outcome for characters who deserve one. No matter what you throw at them and however much they may struggle throughout the story, being able to wrap things up neatly is incredibly satisfying as it’s something which rarely happens in real life.
Q. Where do you get your ideas from?
A. I get inspiration from all over the place, mostly without noticing. Ideas for Art and Soul came from so many places, including Dr Faustus, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast.
My second novel, which I’m working on at the moment, is partly inspired by one of my favourite films, It’s A Wonderful Life.
Q. What’s the hardest thing you find about being a writer?
A. Fighting procrastination, particularly when I’m always trying to squeeze writing in between work and family. If there’s a job around the house you’ve been putting off, start writing a book and suddenly the task you’ve been avoiding will become a lot more appealing!
Q. Can you tell us about your journey to publication?
A. I finished one of the earliest drafts of Art and Soul five years ago. I spent years submitting it to literary agents and publishers while redrafting. I received a lot of positive feedback which was sadly always followed by the dreaded “but”. So a year ago I decided to work with an editor to get the book ready for publication. I’ve really enjoyed the creative control I have as a self-published author.
Q. Do you get time to read yourself and if you do, what books do you read?
A. I love reading and wish I had time to read more. I review books on my blog and greatly appreciate being fortunate enough to sometimes get advance copies. I have a broad taste, although my first love is fantasy and sci-fi. I’m quite partial to a classic murder mystery too: I think, like romance, it fulfils my desire to see everything tied up neatly! I’m not overly keen on anything too dark or stressful and so limit the number of psychological thrillers I read.
Q. Finally, what advice can you give to writers who haven’t yet had the break they’re looking for?
A. Don’t give up! If you’ve had positive feedback about your work (from anyone!) there are sure to be more readers out there who will enjoy it. If you’re prepared to give self-publishing a try, I recommend it.
If anyone would like to find out more about Art and Soul:
My website: https://clairehuston.co.uk
Amazon (universal link): getbook.at/ClaireHustonAandS