Thank you Claire for agreeing to be interviewed for the monthly showcase. I’m going to start with the quick fire round, so buckle up and off we go.
What’s your favourite fruit?
Strawberries – it used to be bananas, until that was the only thing I could keep down in pregnancy – now looking at a banana makes me feel sick!
What’s your favourite song and why?
I have always been a fan of U2 – songs like ‘Pride (In the name of love)’ and ‘One’. But my favourite song changes as the songs I listen to most are worship songs. I’m currently singing ‘No longer a slave’ by Bethel a lot :)
What is your favourite flower and why?
I really like sunflowers – they just seem happy with their big round ‘faces’ and light up any room as they are quite a statement. But the flowers I regularly have in my home are lisianthus – they are delicate yet colourful.
Have you met anyone famous? If so, in what context?
Not really. As a teenager I was really into English and Music, so did my fair share of hanging around after plays and gigs to get signatures – Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh were my favourites from that time. My husband used to be a record producer so he’s met plenty of famous people (including Bono – I was rather jealous of that meeting!) but I also attended various music celebrity parties and VIP areas of gigs with him so mingled with famous musicians. That all seems like a distant memory now he’s a pastor though! ;)
If you could travel to just one country in the world, where would it be?
I’d love to go to Malaysia and India – although I’m not sure my stomach would cope with the latter! In the next few years I’d like us to go somewhere as a family that helps my children grow in their understanding of the world around them, particularly the poverty so many face.
Where is your favourite place to write?
I have a lovely home office in which my computer is set up so I can overlook the garden as I write. It is there, in a designated space, that I feel I can get my head down and write well.
Pen or keyboard?
I would have always said pen, and still write in my journal with pen. But for my writing for work I always go straight to the keyboard these days.
Now for a few more in depth questions.
How did you get started writing?
I have been a book editor for more years than I care to mention! ;) It was during one of my first freelance editing jobs that I ended up with a writing commission. I was down to edit a book but the publisher wasn’t happy with the manuscript when they received it so asked if I would consider writing it from scratch.
I know you write Daily Devotionals. Why devotionals?
I think a daily connection with the Word of God is so important, so I feel it is a real privilege to write notes that accompany someone’s journey each day. I also find it gives me a chance to dig deeper and I learn so much during the process.
What else have you written during your career?
I write magazine and online articles. I have a regular column on the Christian Today website. I have also had four books published to date: my first commission (Taking your Spiritual Pulse), two study guides for BRF on Prayer and Jesus, and I co-wrote a book on anger for CWR: Insight into Managing Conflict.
Have you got a favourite genre to read? If so why?
I love Christian fiction such as Francine Rivers’ books – reading Redeeming Love encouraged me to look out for other writers who use their imagination to retell a biblical story – I love those.
Of course, the area I write in, ‘Christian life’ I guess I would call it, interests me greatly. I love the books that challenge and inspire, but in which the authors are honest about their own struggles.
I also really enjoy mysteries – while at college I discovered Victorian sensation novels and used to scout second hand bookshops for the slightly more obscure titles. While the story lines were totally obvious, I still managed to get completely caught up in them.
How would you describe your writing regime?
I have to be quite disciplined as I’ve set the rule that I only work during the hours my children are at school. So, after I’ve dropped them off, I grab a hot drink and spend half an hour or so sitting on our windowseat overlooking the garden, spending time with God in His word, journaling etc. Then I head to my home office and get on with whatever writing I have lined up for that day.
What would be your top tip for writers?
Be yourself. People instantly recognise if you are trying to copy someone else or aren’t putting your all into your writing. I’ve recently asked a small group of trusted readers to take a look at some sample chapters I’ve written for my next book project. The comments that came back were all so similar: they loved the chapters where my voice was strong, but all picked up where they felt my voice had got somewhat lost. That was a humbling experience – and yet I really valued it, as I know they will have helped me dig deeper and my writing will be better as a result.
Can you give readers a short passage from one of your devotionals?
This is an extract from the start of CWR’s July/August Inspiring Women Every Day (£2.99), in which I look at some of the lesser-known women found in the Bible:
‘Character studies of people often help me to truly grasp messages within the Bible -- especially the Old Testament. We learn about the ‘greats’ such as Noah, Moses, Joseph and David in Sunday school and as we grow older we learn more about their foibles, and are secretly relieved they weren’t perfect. Often, women don’t feature so heavily on Sunday morning teaching sessions and yet there is a whole host of women mentioned in the Bible. They are of course there for a reason so this month I want to take us on a journey to find out why -- and what we can learn from them. Some played a pivotal role in a part of Israel’s history but what about others we may not have heard of at all, such as Abigail, Gomer, Tamar and Eunice? And what about those who lived alongside the women we are aware of -- such as Naomi alongside Ruth and Hagar alongside Sarai?’
What are you working on at the moment?
I have just finished a set of Inspiring Women Every Day Bible notes on holiness, and I am putting the final touches to a study guide on the life of David and lessons we can learn from him.
In between paid jobs, I’m working on the book that I feel has been burning inside me for a long time – it’s all about being authentic and dropping our masks.
When will this be out?
The IWED notes and book on David will be out in 2016. I am currently looking for a publisher for my book on authentic church/being real.
Thank you Claire for being so honest and open. What a busy lady. I appreciate your taking time to answer my questions. I wish you all the best with your book and your writing