Interview with Claire Stevens

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first book I can remember taking out of the library was The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. I can remember being very impressed at the amount the caterpillar ate! When I was a little older my favourite books were the My Best Fiend series by Sheila Lavelle. They are hilarious and were instrumental in turning me on to reading as a hobby.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
In no particular order....

Maus by Art Spiegelman. Just an incredible book charting a family's experience of the holocaust. I love the artwork and the conversations with his father flow so naturally. It has a brutal honesty to it too - Spiegelman doesn't try to sugar-coat the frustrating relationship he has with this father or make him out to be some kind of folk hero.

Can I have the whole Twilight saga as one choice? These books knocked my socks off when I read them for the first time and I can still happily read them over and over again.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It was set two hundred years ago but when you read it you realise how little human relationships have changed in that time.

The Shining by Stephen King. Joey from Friends had it absolutely right when he said, 'The question should be Rach, what is NOT so great about The Shining. Okay? And the answer would be: nothing.' Enticingly but not off-puttingly scary, and written by King at the very top of his game, The Shining is a masterpiece.

The Time-Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Clare and Henry's quiet, undramatic love spans decades and an unfortunate genetic disorder. Beautifully written and completely captivating.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Recommendations from friends and I've had some great suggestions from sites like Book Riot. If you use an ereader I think there's sometimes the danger that you'll get funneled along the 'Customers who bought this book also bought...' route, which is great if you've just found particular theme or author that you love, but it can be a bit constricting. Sometimes I like to type random phrases like 'blue nail varnish' or 'cat breath' into the ebook website search field just to see what it will come up with. That's how I found Lola and the Boy Next Door, which I can thoroughly recommend.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I used to work as a corporate events planner for an investment bank. It was a horrible, boring, thankless job and I was appallingly bad at it. One day I was in a meeting and I just let my mind drift away from the dullard who was talking and I started thinking about all the cool things I could do if only I had superpowers. And then I started thinking about where the superpowers would come from, and why I would have them and it just sort of snowballed from there.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small village in Essex. As the crow flies it's only about 30 miles from London, but it might as well be over the other side of the world when you're a teenager with no money or mode of transport. In Zero, Roanne and her family live in a small rural village and I chose this setting because of my background. I have no concept of what it must be like to grow up in a big city like London or New York (other than that it must be impossibly glamorous and exciting); I do, however, have some idea of how tedious and frustrating it is to be a teenager in a small isolated village, a million miles from any decent bands or shops!
What is your writing process?
I didn't really follow a process for Zero, and I think that was why it took me four years to write! I was researching the dissertation for my degree and in my spare time I just started out writing a few scenes and then kind of strung them together. Then I wrote the end (a different end to the one that was published) and then the first couple of chapters. It was a mess and I have since discovered that creative writing teachers don't recommend this method for writing a book! Zero had to be re-written a few times and very little of the original draft is in it. In fact, it started out as an adult novel and it was only once I'd finished the first draft that I realised that the characters I was writing about were teenagers.
How do you approach cover design?
I texted my brother, who is a very successful graphic designer and has a Mac and can Do Art. The conversation went something like this:

Me: You know how you're an amazing graphic designer?
Him: Ye-e-e-e-s?
Me: And you know what a kind brother you are?
Him: Ye-e-e-e-s?
Me: Is there any chance you'd design a cover for the book I wrote?
Him: (Pause) You wrote a BOOK?

I gave him a rough precis of what Zero is about and he told me that if I wanted the full-on design experience with consultations and options and drafts and more options and re-drafts it would cost a grand. Or he could just knock something together in his lunch hour and that would be free.

Because I don't have a spare grand just sloshing around, I chose the free version. And actually it's exactly what I would have picked even if I'd have had the full design service, so it worked out well.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
You know those conversations you have, where it's only an hour afterwards that you think of a really witty or cutting answer to something someone says? That. That's why I like writing. I get to deliver that line.
What are you working on next?
I'm working on the sequel to Zero, which starts off in the Citadel a month or so after Zero ends. Roanne is being trained by the Protectorate and everything seems to be going swimmingly. Until, that is, people start going missing....
Published 2015-01-10.
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Books by This Author

Price: Free! Words: 95,160. Language: British English. Published: January 6, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Adventure
If you're made an offer that seems too good to be true; it usually is. And if you're Roanne Harper, the too-good-to-be-true offer could just end with demons, gods and psychopaths.