AUTHORS’ CORNER talks to writer Lucinda Clarke

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Good morning Lucinda. Welcome to Authors’ Corner.  
Lucinda is not your real name.  Why did you chose to write under a pseudonym?

My book ’Walking over Eggshells’ contains a lot of sensitive material, and I not only wrote under a pen name I changed all the names in the book as well. I waited until my mother died as I had no desire to hurt her, and I also waited until my ex-mother-in-law had passed on too. My main purpose in telling the story of my relationship with my mother was to reach other victims and spread the word about personality disorders. If only I had understood the syndrome earlier in my life it would have been so much easier. I hope over time that maybe younger readers who are still living at home, will read it and it may help to make their lives easier.

You seem to have been a writer for many years but not necessarily writing novels.  Can you tell us a bit about your writing career.

That’s a comedy of errors! It all began after I was fired from my job teaching at a very posh 
school for girls in Pretoria, South Africa. I couldn’t believe it! I had always been so conscientious, and I never found out why they shoved me out either. I had mentioned to the drama teacher that I had worked on the radio in Benghazi, Libya and she just happened to be married to a producer at the South African Broadcasting Company and she arranged an audition as a continuity announcer. I failed it spectacularly and then went for a drama audition, also with less than flying colours! The drama teacher told me they had been impressed with the material which I had written especially for the occasion and here was an entry form for a play writing competition. I wrote a one hour radio play and won joint first prize. After that there was no stopping me. I wrote for radio, short stories then magazines, had my own newspaper column and then I was commissioned by the SABC for educational radio programmes. This led to scripts for television and eventually I ran my own video production company writing, producing and directing.

I see that you were born in Dublin.  The Irish have a number of wonderful writers.  How much do you think your Irish heritage has contributed to your success as a writer?

Oh yes, the Irish have a way with words. I remember reading Brendan Behan under the covers when I was a child. As a race we’ve always had to take jokes against ourselves. Do you remember:

 ‘What do the Irish have written at the top of their ladders?’ 

‘Stop!’  


and ‘What is printed on the bottom of a bottle of Guinness?’ 

‘Open other end.’
 

So I grew up learning to laugh at myself with the consoling thought that we Irish were good with words even if we were not supposed to have any brains. 

Tell us about your working day?  Does your schedule vary when you are writing or do you keep to a strict routine?

Oh I wish I could have a proper schedule! When I was earning my living with writing and producing it was often a 16 hour day when we were out on location.  Then I retired and I thought, freedom, no fixed hours! For a while I threw myself into the social whirl and the ‘learn more’ groups. But I believe that writers are born not made and I just couldn’t help myself and I started writing again. At first it was power point presentations to local history groups and a couple of talks and then came the books. Now I have to fight for time! Wednesday is ‘me day’ as my husband goes hill walking and all my friends know not to email me or phone me or call by on a Wednesday! Then I grab every opportunity I can to write, when I am not doing housework or marketing the books or asleep. I’m very driven, but I am like that with everything I set my mind to if I’m passionate about it. I’ve had the dream since I was 6 years old that I wanted to lie in the old folks home and look up at a shelf and see a row of books written by me.

What made you decide to self-publish?

In the 1990’s I was commissioned by a major publishing house to write a book and they gave me a sizeable advance. By the time I had ‘earned that back’ I was left with the princely sum of £4.10. I’m not sure to what extent they promoted it, but it hardly hit the big time!  A year ago, when I finished ‘Walking over Eggshells’, I didn’t even look for an agent or a publisher and decided to do it all myself.  I can’t believe now that we have the freedom to self-publish, though the marketing is very, very hard work. Writing is so much easier! I am also mercenary enough to want to keep as much money for myself as I can!  You can check every ten minutes to see if you have to made a sale, and that’s nice too! While I’ve been writing this I made another sale!

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In the present climate, an author has to spend as much time marketing their books as writing them.  How do you feel about that?

I first published in July 2013 and sold very few in the year, but no one told me you had to market! Along, I am sure, with all other authors, it is the downside and takes up several hours every day. I think most of us hate it. I am naturally a shy person, but I’ve had to take a deep breath before a book signing, and I’m not looking forward to the local Christmas Fair where I have booked a stall. But if you want to succeed, then you have to do it. On the upside I think I have made some great on-line friends and they are from all over the world. We all have the same thing in common, a love of writing and a love of books. I find I can relate to them so easily. I hope they think the same about me.

I’m amazed that everyone is so supportive, helpful and friendly.

Which marketing tool have you found the most useful for your books?

I’ve only been marketing properly for four months, and I started with Facebook. I joined lots of groups. Then I branched out to Twitter, but I am struggling with that, not the efficiency but the technology; I’m a bit of an idiot, no, I’m a lot of an idiot when it comes to this. I’ve got a blog, and I’m waiting for the award for the worst presentation blog on the web. I’m green with envy at how beautiful some of the others are, they even have bits that move around the screen. But give it time; I hope to improve. I’ve got a Facebook page for each of my two books, but now I am stuck as book 3 is due out and book 4 early next year.  I can’t manage five pages with my own. 

So firstly, making friends, giving reciprocal reviews, [but I am brutally honest I’m afraid, as an ex-lecturer in scriptwriting] I can’t say something is good if I don’t think it is. But I would never post a bad review and trash anyone, I just wouldn’t post. It appears my friends and family don’t feel the same way, as the lowest stars I have are from my brother-in-law and my best friend!


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Tell us a little about your other books and what you have planned for the future.

My second book was ‘Amie an African Adventure’, a novel set in Africa, as I lived there over 30 years. They say to write about what you know. 

My next two books are also memoirs, following my career from the classroom to the television studios, ‘Truth, Lies & Propaganda’, and ‘More Truth, Lies & Propaganda’.  There are a lot of funny and a few sad stories and it takes you behind the scenes in the media. 

After that I am going back to Amie and I’ve not decided what misery I will put her through this time! We have a love-hate relationship.

Thank you Lucinda, for talking to us and the best of luck with your new books.  You can find out more about Lucinda Clarke and her work on the following links:

Blog: http://lucindaeclarke.wordpress.com

Twitter @LucindaEClarke


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Author

Joan Fallon is a writer and novelist living in Spain.

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