I’m so excited to have Claire stop by That Artsy Reader Girl today. :) I’ve had a lot of fun getting to know her, and learning more about her upcoming “romantic mystery” (term dubber by Claire, herself) novel, The P.U.R.E, which I was lucky enough to receive an e-ARC of a few months ago. I am planning to read and review very soon, so keep an eye out for it! Anyways, let me introduce you to Claire!
Claire Gillian is a number-crunching executive by profession, an after hours writer by passion, and a darkly romantic curmudgeon. Published in short stories and anthologies, The P.U.R.E marks Claire’s debut publication of her work in novel form.
While Claire’s writing spans all ages and subject matters, she’s happiest penning romance drenched in humor with a dash of intrigue and loads of spice. Claire lives in the boggy Pacific NW with her husband and two teen-aged sons.
1. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In some part of my mind, I’ve always thought of myself as a writer. A writer whose works people would pay to read was a completely different matter. I guess that phase came when I first posted some fan fiction on a LiveJournal blog for fans of a certain TV show I shall not name. People actually read and liked it. I tried again and wrote a novel, thinking I was hot stuff at the time. I started writing timed flash fiction and again the praise totally inflated my ego. It wasn’t until I started getting critiques that I really realized just how hard it really was going to be… but also how rewarding.
2. Summarize The P.U.R.E. in three sentences or less.
I’m terrible at these but here goes: When Gayle, a new recruit, discovers her employer’s shady dealings that include a plot to frame her because of a few freshman blunders, she turns to the only one who believes her—her oh-so-tempting but off limits co-worker, Jon. Jon is more than willing to help keep Gayle out of trouble, and not just because he’s a nice guy.
Jana’s comments: Haha. I’m bad at quick summaries also, but you did a great job! It sounds really good!
3. Tell us about your favorite character in The P.U.R.E. and why.
I really love Gayle, the P.U.R.E. of the story, because she’s a lion-hearted underdog with this underlying layer of insecurity. She’s gotten a bad rep at her first career position, partly due to her own fault and partly due to others taking advantage of her perceived weaknesses. She’s thus far been watching almost helplessly as her career goes down the toilet. When she’s finally tossed into the deep end of the pool, she finds an inner strength that not only saves her hide but blindsides her enemies.
Jana’s comments: Yes, she sounds like a heroine I’m really going to enjoy reading about!
4. What inspired you to write this book? Where did the idea come from?
I wrote The P.U.R.E. based in part on my own and my co-workers’ first year experiences in the world of public accounting. The general public really has no idea what it’s like to sign on with one of these stodgy white collar firms that are nearly militaristic in how they systematically break down, then build a recruit back up in molds of their own designs. I had no idea either! When you’re a top accounting graduate, the highest paying, most prestigious jobs are with CPA firms, and that’s all you need to know. Figuring out if you actually like or can even do the job comes later. Many are called, few stick it out. PURE, or previously undetected recruiting error, was a term applied to those graduates who looked good on paper, interviewed well, but for whatever reason, did not work out. I always thought it was both a clever and horrifying term.
Jana’s comments: Oh! So P.U.R.E stands for Previously Undetected Recruiting Error! I was wondering what it meant, so thanks for explaining. And I agree that the term is both laughable and a bit sad all at once. Haha.
5. If you were to write yourself into this book, what kind of character would you be?
I’d totally be Gayle. I still remember quite vividly a few of my own freshman mistakes and the sense of impotence at knowing, “I SHOULD be able to succeed at this” but, “Why aren’t I?”
6. What part of this book was your favorite part to write?
My favorite part of the book is in the early chapters where Gayle and Jon are still just friendly co-workers. Gayle realizes she’s attracted to Jon, but insists to herself that nothing can ever come of it because dating a co-worker would be a career-limiting move (another commonly used CPA term). Mentally she thinks she’s got it all figured out and can handle her attraction. We, as the readers, see how silly she is because she betrays her feelings for him over and over again, yet stubbornly clings to the idea that she can keep him at arms length. I just love that foolish denial, especially when later juxtaposed to Jon’s utter conviction that she’s the one for him… sigh.
Jana’s comments: Ooo… I can sense the tension! I love books like this, but at the same time I want to strangle the people involved for not giving in sooner!
7. Tell us about your writing environment. Messy or clean?
I have a desk and a dedicated computer now. That wasn’t always the case. I just got my own iMac a year ago. That no one in my family a) knows how to use a Mac and b) has the password to log on, not even my husband, keeps my workspace mine, mine and all mine. My desk, however, is located side by side with a computer my sons use for school work. On the other side is a television set. Quiet is never guaranteed, unfortunately, which is why my favorite writing time is in the early AM when all my guys are still sleeping. My desk is VERY messy, unfortunately, but I have no one but myself to blame.
8. What has been the most positive experience you’ve had as an author? The most negative?
I love the other authors I’ve met–people who have lent a crying shoulder and who have used a shoulder, those who have provided a laugh and who have given a laugh. What a wonderful, witty bunch of people! …they have such terrific ways of phrasing things, even the most mundane. Plus, for me, doing a left-brain dominant job of number-crunching and computer programming all day, I really love being able to move beyond boolean speak, probabilities, financial risk and reward, and instead talk about how words make me feel, whether logical or not. The most negative experiences have revolved around authors who have charged in, convinced they had nothing left to learn and that the world was on tenterhooks awaiting their next bon mots. ALL authors should still be learning and honing their craft. NO author is an objective judge of his or her own work.
9. If you were not allowed to be an author, which dream job would be your alternate choice?
My other dream job would be a character actor… assuming I could act, which I can’t. Not a leading lady because they have to watch every morsel they eat, the paparazzi hounds them, and the first grey hair can signal the end to their careers. I’d wanna be like Kathy Bates or Marcia Gay Harden—busy, busy but not a huge star.
Jana’s comments: Very fun! I think acting would be a fun profession, but I’d also not want to be a huge star, always in the limelight.
Claire’s old computer, pet gargoyle from Paris, ever-present Diet Coke,
and the Absolute Write website on her computer screen.
10. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
I tell all aspiring authors to head over to Absolute Write forums, and read, and post, and learn. Put your work out there for critique. Grow thicker skin because no matter how thick you think it is, it needs to be thicker if you’re to get better. Be humble. Even your greatest nay-sayers are giving you valuable feedback. I’m forever indebted to a beta reader who did not mince a single word while trouncing my first novel into the proverbial dirt. She mentioned in her notes wanting to burn the manuscript and stomp on its ashes. As painful as that was to read, she told me what I needed to know, and I am forever grateful (and a lot thicker) for her words.
Jana’s comments: Wow, sounds like my profession as well. I’m a graphic designer, and while I was not the victim of a certain professor of mine, he did rip someone’s design project off the wall and stomp on it. When you’re in a creative network, a thick skin is the first thing you should get. I know I have toughened up a lot, and it has made me a better designer.
11. When you’re not writing, what else do you do for fun?
I used to be a huge fitness enthusiast. Used to be. Alas, I tend to have a rather one track mind that chokes off nearly all other interests. Over the past year or so, I’ve cut back on working out, nearly stopped watching television completely. Ebay? What’s that? I used to be intimately familiar with it. No more. I rarely shop either. Gasp! I know! Most shocking. I do read a lot more though. That is a parallel track to writing and I do work to carve out reading time. It’s one of the few activities I will gladly set aside a WIP to concentrate on.
12. What are you currently reading?
Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare is currently in process on my Kindle at a little over the 50% mark. I also picked up a book called High Spirited Women of the Sierras by Anne Seagraves at the Sequoia National Forest information station. I nabbed a second by Anne called Women of the Sierra.
13. Who is your favorite romantic suspense author?
My favorite romantic suspense author is… okay, you totally busted me here. Believe it or not, I don’t read that much romantic suspense. I do, however, read a lot of romance, mystery, and urban fantasy with Charlaine Harris being a favorite author who writes cozy mysteries (Lily Bard and Aurora Teagarden) and urban fantasies (Sookie Stackhouse and Harper Connelly series) with romantic elements. I see The P.U.R.E. as really more of a romantic mystery than romantic suspense, the difference being with suspense, you usually know who the bad guy is and it’s all about the main characters escaping his clutches. With mysteries, you aren’t really sure who the bad guy is and it’s all about figuring that part out. The latter is what I love. I also go weak-kneed at almost any sort of romance—contemporary, historical, paranormal, steampunk, science fiction, whatever.
Jana’s comments: I love mysteries! Suspense is good, but you’re right—everyone knows who the bad guy is. I love trying to figure out “who did it”. I love romance too. *sigh*
14. You’re an Air Force brat, and have moved a lot. I’m a Navy brat, so I totally know what that’s like. I loved moving, but it was hard at times. How has all the moving you’ve done influenced your life?
Moving around a lot I think gave me the ability to quickly figure out the lay of the land, find my place, then fit in. Learning to write is a lot like that, believe it or not. You approach the perimeter, learn the rules by reading and observing, then dive in. As far as the rest of my life goes, all that moving has helped me cope with being at my core a shy, solitary person. I can pull on my outgoing suit if and when I have to and no one is the wiser to my true nature. You’re right, moving is tough but it has given me a very valuable life skill.
Jana’s comments: I love this answer, and completely agree with you. I’m also a shy person, and moving so much forced me to make new friends quite often. I definitely learned a lot about people and the world.
15. Of all the places you’ve lived, which has been your favorite?
I really loved New Mexico. I lived in Albuquerque for seven years, met and married my husband there, and traveled throughout the state for business. I adore the food and the people are incredibly warm and friendly. The art is spectacular and the sunsets can’t be beaten. If I can ever get it polished up enough to shop it, I have an urban fantasy novel completely set in New Mexico. Darynda Jones has a great reaper series set there, but really I haven’t run across too many stories in that state and it’s a shame. I hope to do my part to give New Mexico the props it’s due.
Jana’s comments: I’ve visited Albuquerque, and I agree that it’s an awesome place to be! I was particularly amused by the pink sidewalks (or maybe those are strictly for Rio Rancho?). :)
16. Favorite dessert? (Because these things are majorly important!)
I have a sweet tooth that rules me, and not the other way around, so it’s difficult to choose just one dessert. But, at this moment, my tooth is crying out for a huge, freshly baked oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip cookie. I once upon a time wanted to own a Mrs. Fields franchise, I’m such a cookie monster. Chocolate rules too though, she says bidding her beloved Cadbury candy-coated chocolate eggs adieu until next Easter.
Jana’s comments: Oh man… my sweet tooth was friends with your sweet tooth in another life. Cookies are a weakness, but I love any and all desserts, especially if there is chocolate in it (or I can add chocolate to it, if needs be). And I got absolutely no Cadbury mini eggs this year, for which I am still yearning for. Oh well! I do hope you get your cookie, and soon!
Thanks again to Claire for taking the time to introduce herself to us! I am even more excited to read The P.U.R.E now than I had been before. You can count on finding my review popping up on the blog very soon! Oh, and Claire? If you do open that Mrs. Fields franchise, let me know and I’ll stop by and visit! Friends get a discount, right?
But… until Claire’s glorious cookie shop takes flight, you’ll have to settle for finding her here:
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