Interview with Claudia Whitsitt

Published 2015-03-04.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing seriously when I was a 5th grader. I loved fairy tales, and wanted to create my own handsome prince to rescue me from my wicked childhood. I hated chores, homework, having to come inside when the street lights came on.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Between the Lines came from my childhood musings. I grew up in the fifties and sixties, and lived through the Detroit Riots of 1967. It was a time of great turmoil in our country and I didn't understand why all people couldn't just get along. Those questions, as well as a long teaching career, made me want to share a story with my former students in which a young girl challenges the prejudice and bigotry she encounters.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I'm an indie author because I love being in charge of my own destiny. Plus, I'm a bit of a control freak. :)
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love when the words are flowing and I'm so in my characters head, I lose sight of all else going on around me. It's an adrenaline high when I'm steeped in that creative zone. Sharing my work with readers also brings me great joy, knowing my message, my characters and my story touched or entertained them in some way.
What do your fans mean to you?
Without readers, I'd still be a writer, but fans mean connections, and if there's anything I enjoy, it's relationships. I love time with readers, learning their stories and becoming part of their world. I have made many friends through my readers and can't imagine life without them.
What are you working on next?
I've been writing Two of Me for over three years, and I'm happy to say that this will be my next finished project. I'm also planning to release the fourth book in The Samantha Series, Inherited Issues, by June 2015. It will be a big year of published projects for me.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love Michael Connelly, Lee Child, John Green, JoJo Moyes, and Anita Shreve. I read a lot of different books and often find some of my favorites are children's authors. There are so many great books. I find new favorite authors every day.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I wake up thinking about writing. My subconscious is always writing, finding a gold nugget of a word, a sentence that flows like a river. I can't wait to hit the keyboard every morning, coffee in hand, and get started.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love the outdoors. I live in Michigan, so for several months a year, this presents a serious problem. If I can, I get out and walk, ski, ride my bike or swim. The Michigan summers are great for swimming! I also love to read, so those bitter days when I can't get outside is often spent cuddling up and reading a good book.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I ever wrote was when I was in the fifth grade. My best friend, Mary, and I lay on her bedroom floor, writing like madwomen. We each had a story idea and went to work with a stack of loose leaf paper by our sides. My story was about a princess who was waiting for her handsome prince. I didn't know much about conflict then, so the story was far too short. But what I wanted was a happy ending. That, I got!
What is your writing process?
I write from the seat of my pants. I have a story nugget, some idea in the back of my mind that I trust my subconscious to shape. Then, I just sit down and write. The words flow freely and I seldom stop to edit or criticize my work on the first draft. Each morning though, I will do a quick edit on the pages I wrote yesterday. Only after I've rooted myself back in the story do I move on. I tend to get the first draft down fairly quickly, then spend months editing and revising. I find and fix holes, ramp up the tension and make sure I'm happy with the ending. I spend tons of time on endings. They are important to me when I'm reading a book, and I want my readers to feel satisfied too.
How do you approach cover design?
I share my cover design ideas with my cover artist. She seems to intuit what I want even when I give her the vaguest of ideas about what's in my mind's eye. I also consider what's on the current market, colors and fonts that draw the eye. In my series, The Samantha Series, it was very important that my covers branded me as an author, so that if someone were to see my cover displayed either online or in a local bookstore, they could identify it as one of my books.
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