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Welcome, Regina Clarke…

Regina Clarke

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name and why)

I was born in England and grew up in the U.S. That English connection has always been strong, though, for both sets of grandparents were born in England. I once traced my paternal name back to a time before 1066. It was spelled “clerc” and of course derived in Old English from various monks who were allowed to marry (or the name would have entered the mists of obscurity). I also found a Reginald Clerc, noted in the Curia Regis Rolls of Rutland (1205). After that, I knew I had to keep my own name no matter what. My ancestors had to be honored!

What is the title and genre of your book?

I’ve written a number of books and short stories, but selected The Magic Hour, a mystery/fantasy, for this interview.

How did you come up with the story?

Three powerful things influenced my writing it:

On the back cover description I say this: “Before full night comes, when the air is indigo and objects less distinct, time and space can shift. This is the magic hour, and it reveals what is usually hidden.” I had always wanted to tell a story that took place in that interval. The desire to do that just wouldn’t let go.

Then about four months before I started the book, or even thought of starting it, I had come over to the U.K. and spent some days in the month of September in Glastonbury, visiting ancient monoliths and barrows (and having divine cream teas). The room I had was on Silver Street and I was on the top floor of this old house, and the view was over the wall into the Glastonbury Abbey ruins. Talk about a perfect place to be. There was often mist rising over the stones.

I am also a fanatical reader of mysteries, so I wanted to write a book that had a mystery to solve.

Those three elements all merged for me in this book. It began one day, all of a sudden. I hadn’t planned such a book at all. I was working in corporate at the time (alas) but instead of attending to a technical writing doc, I wrote the first paragraph of the novel. I remember looking at it on my computer and wondering what on earth that was about. Four months later the first draft was done. While I took the book through a lot of revisions, that first paragraph has never changed.

Oh, there was another aspect that influenced me. I was very familiar with the visual effects of migraines. I had studied them for a nonfiction paper and then got mesmerized by descriptions of the visual effects as given by Dr. Oliver Sacks and the brilliant Hildegard of Bingen on both migraines and hallucinations. I knew about TLE, temporal lobe epilepsy, as a result, as well. So these figured as a catalyst to explain why the detective was having visions of another world off and on while pursuing his real-life case in a small town in the Pacific northwest. Like the magic hour—which part is real was the question.

It has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?

Regina Clarke book cover

Thank you! That was a joy to create. I have a wonderful digital artist doing covers for me now, but at that time I was on my own, though I had an excellent (and free) PaintShop clone I used, and still use. I’d received a Twitter message from a psychologist friend in Toronto and her background image for her profile was this small section of lovely stars in an indigo sky—just the smallest piece—but I loved it. She had no idea where she’d grabbed it from. Eventually, making Google searches relentlessly, I found the original image. It was taken by a photographer, who I credit in the book.

All I did was compress and alter the image to match the Kindle version specs and add my title and name. Choosing a titling font only took fifteen tries before I got it right… J When I created the back cover for the paperback it was a harder, because I did not understand about spines, etc., so that took awhile. But when it was done I was very happy with it—it gave the feeling I wanted of that magic interval of indigo twilight.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

I offer the one writers are always given—write every day, preferably at the same time of day. But if that cannot happen, at the very least write something before the day is done. Make it a kind of mantra to do that.

What is your writing routine?

When I was in corporate it was nights and weekends or at lunchtime in the car. But as soon as I had time free I settled into a schedule that is so fixed that when I don’t do it I feel bereft! It is always in the morning—between two and three hours. I’ll do other writing, for my blog or my newsletter or a guest post, etc., in the afternoon or evening.

I think maybe the most important part of all is not even to look at news or social media until you’ve put in your writing time. I didn’t always follow that and would end up engaged in correspondence or researching an article I’d read or almost anything that drew my attention—like one of those people who surf channels on a television set, or an insect checking out the next flower source, only at least insects are following a purpose! I do a lot of research voluntarily or on assignment and have an insatiable appetite for information and the unknown, so left to undisciplined devices, I might not attend to doing what I wanted to do most. I had to absolutely stop it all and just write in the morning time. No distractions.

Do you have an editing process?

I love editing. It is as creative as writing but in a whole different way. It is a feeling of honing and settling and shaping—the actual writing gets the right brain dreaming down, and the editing activates the critical faculty. It is the whole process that brings the book into being.

Of course, indie publishing is the best of inventions! I get to use my inspired self and my critical self to design or approve covers, to learn new methods of production, to explore audience reactions and connect with other writers, artists, and production people.

That said, it is also quite grand that now the self-publishing field has drawn in people so skilled at marketing and promotion. I follow a number them or listen and watch their webinars—these people, the good ones, are professionals who know how to help us find our audience. They also offer a tremendous amount of information free as well as paid—of their skill, wisdom, and help. I am very much indebted to them.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

Writing is always, always good, even when it isn’t developing the way I think it ought to at any given time. It’s a world I love to enter. A welcome immersion.

It wouldn’t bother me at all if someone else took care of everyday tasks like shopping and cleaning—I am perfectly capable of spending an entire day writing and editing when in fact there is dusting and cooking and tidying that are waiting on me that simply get forgotten…! This would also open up time for me to create excerpted audio readings on my website for each book, as I want to do. I even bought basic equipment and downloaded Audacity to edit the audios. I then created a page for it on my website, which so far shows only a list of book titles! The audios require blocks of time in the afternoon that are not readily available. I could do it at night but my voice skills are very likely to flag.

Where can people find you on the internet?

My website is at www.regina-clarke.com and I welcome visitors indeed. My Blog at that site is nonfiction, with the emphasis on inspirational posts. BTW, I would be keen to have people write guests posts there on similar themes, as well.

My Amazon Author page is here:

https://www.amazon.com/Regina-Clarke/e/B001K8IWBU

The following sites are good ways to reach me. I am also on Goodreads, though not involved with that site except occasionally.

https://www.facebook.com/ReginaClarkeAuthor/

https://www.pinterest.com/reginac7/boards/

http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/regina-clarke.html

https://www.allianceindependentauthors.org/members/

https://twitter.com/ReginaClarke1

http://linkedin.com/pub/regina-clarke/10/688/82

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

One thing that is invaluable to receive is feedback. If readers (and other writers) send feedback in emails or in reviews to authors they have read, it is always beneficial. I try for my part to do it for books I have enjoyed. It matters for writers to get other perspectives and impressions.

I would also extend great thanks to you, Suzan, for this gracious interview!

You’re welcome, Regina.

 

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