Today, I am delighted to be able to chat to Claire whose novel, ‘The Ghost of Bluebell Cottage’ has recently been published.
If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a bit of background to the story:
An eerie mist surrounds the castle. Its icy fingers are curling and lingering between each stone wall. In the village, the locals are restless as they toss and turn in their sleep. The clip clop of horse’s hooves can be heard on cobblestones and shouts of angry drunken men in the far distance. The mystery man with his dog is back again, but who is he? The village of Corfe Castle is harbouring a dark secret stemming back to the 17th Century when Lady Bankes fought to protect the Castle and when Anthony Dickinson, a follower of the witch finder Mathew Hopkins, tortured scores of unsuspecting women throughout Dorset.
Drawn to a photo of Bluebell Cottage in a real estate window, Greg has an unusual, yearning to give up his high-flying career in London and live in the cottage. It seems that Greg is not the only newcomer to the village, as Helen, who has recently left Bournemouth after breaking up with her fiancé, moves into Lilly’s, an old 17th century cottage not far from Bluebell Cottage. She too is drawn into the past with strange dreams and paranormal experiences.
It becomes clear that three hundred and sixty seven years on, a story of love and treachery becomes hopelessly entwined with the past and present.
Catherine: Welcome Claire and congratulations on publication of ‘The Ghost of Bluebell Cottage’. This is an atmospheric, ghostly love story, just perfect to curl up with on cold winter nights. Is this an idea you worked on for a long time or did the inspiration suddenly come to you one day?
Claire: Thank you Catherine. My inspiration normally comes to me when my mind is relaxed and more receptive to ideas. It took a couple of days to pen the storyline and the rest came when I started writing it.
Catherine: Have you ever seen a ghost – or had any paranormal experiences?
Claire: Yes twice. The first ghost I saw was about 6 years ago. A young girl dressed in 17th century clothing. I saw her standing in the curtains. She scared me half to death but disappeared within seconds of me seeing her. It was a most bizarre experience. The second time was late at night. I was living in another house then. I was in bed, rolled over on my side and a man appeared dressed in safari clothing and with a rifle gun hanging over his shoulder. I was so terrified I screamed the house down and almost gave my husband a heart attack! I don’t think I have ever been so scared in all of my life. Some would argue it was a dream but it was so real and very different from a dream. Both experiences had something in common; they were standing a few inches off the ground. It’s something that has always stuck in my mind. I have had several paranormal experiences over the years where I’ve heard and felt a presence. It’s a subject that fascinate me.
Catherine: What made you start writing and when did you begin?
Claire: About 3 years ago I was teaching English as a foreign language in Spain and started writing short stories for my students to read during my lessons. They enjoyed them very much and encouraged me to write. Shortly after that I wrote ‘Whittington Manor’, my first book.
Catherine: ‘Whittington Manor’ is a historical novel. Can you tell us more about it?
Claire: ‘Whittington Manor’ is based during the 2nd world war, in a small town in Hampshire. It’s a love story with a difference. The story focuses on two different families brought together by Sarah, the daughter of Lord Whittington and Joe a land worker. It becomes clear that during war time social status carries no bearing and money certainly can’t buy love or happiness. With war comes conflict and not just on the battle field. The characters have been carefully crafted and the story is packed with emotion, appealing to readers of all ages.
Catherine: What are you currently working on?
Claire: I’m about a third of the way through my next novel “The Other Daddy.” It’s about a little boy called Callum. His parents fail to understand his abnormal behaviour and after many medical tests, they seek help elsewhere and take him to see a parapsychologist. After spending time with Callum, Dr Andrew McGregor recognises certain landmarks in nearly all of Callum’s drawings that lead them to a little Scottish Orkney Island. In a startling turn of events an unsolved mystery prior to Callum being born is solved. The story is very spiritual; it explores ideas about the paranormal, reincarnation and life itself. I’ve tried to express my views through characters we can relate to. It’s mysterious throughout and just as your think you know the answer of what’s wrong with Callum, there is yet another twist.
As well as writing “The Other Daddy” I’m co writing Whittington Manor as a screen play for television. Episode One will be sent out to production companies in the New Year. Television is definitely the direction I want to follow and will be turning all of my books into screen plays over the next couple of years.
Catherine: This all sounds very interesting. You’re certainly going to be busy! Now, what advice would you give to anyone who wants to get their story published?
Claire: Be prepared for rejection. The publishing world can be unkind and unfair to new authors. In this economic climate they tend to stick to the authors they know they can make money from, but this doesn’t mean to say your work is not good enough. Always believe in yourself and never give up or let anyone bring you down. Take all criticism as positive and try to use it to better yourself. I think it’s important to write daily and you will see your writing grow from strength to strength in the months and years to come. Writing is not about money. As a new author you earn very little these days but it should be a way of life, a passion within you. Keep on writing until you reach your goal.
Catherine: Now a more light-hearted question. If you had your own TV chat show and could interview 3 people (living or dead), who would they be and what would you want to talk about?
Claire: There are so many people I admire and would love to interview on a chat show, although mainly in the film industry. Stephen Spielberg would definitely be on my list. He is such an incredibly talented person. Julie Walters, a great actress and John Sullivan who sadly is no longer with us and who was truly a fantastic writer in the comedy world. It would be lovely to chat with all 3 of them about their careers.
Catherine: Thank you very much for joining us today. Where can we find out more about you and, crucially, where can we find your books?
Claire: You can find more information about my work on my website www.clairevoet.co.uk
Whittington Manor is available through most high street book shops such as WHSmiths, Tescos, Waterstones also on line at Amazon and will soon be available on Kindle.
The Ghost of Bluebell Cottage is currently out on kindle and will be available through the normal channels in paper back on the 20th November 2011!
The Other Daddy is due to be released in March 2012.