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Interview with Claire Buss

Welcome Claire, tell us about your latest novel?

The Interspecies Poker Tournament, Case 27 of The Roshaven Files, is a humorous fantasy novella following the adventures of Ned Spinks and Jenni, a prequel to The Rose Thief. If you loved Terry Pratchett's Discworld, you'll love Roshaven.

Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher, has a new case. A murderous moustache-wearing cult is killing off members of Roshaven's fae community. At least that's what he's been led to believe by his not-so-trusty sidekick, Jenni the sprite. She has information she's not sharing but plans to get her boss into the Interspecies Poker Tournament so he can catch the bad guy and save the day. If only Ned knew how to play!

You shouldn’t judge a book by the cover. What inspired your cover? Who did your covers? Was the process to get them right difficult?

My cover was designed by the very talented Ian Bristow of Bristow Designs. We had a conversation about the characters and I told him I really wanted to put the octopus on the cover because, you know, octopi are cool! He’s read The Rose Thief, my other book in this world, so was familiar with the setting and the characters. We put Ned’s shadow across the table and included a carved mermaid on the wall – all small detail but I think it adds a richness to the cover. Ian only had to do one sketch before we knew the direction we wanted to go in and it was just a case of a few small tweaks and voilla – one cover.

Is there a book which surprised your or made you cry?

I was surprised at how much the Harry Potter books made me cry. I was fortunate to be able to buy them at the midnight releases when they came out and then spend the rest of the night reading them to find out what happened next! I also cried a lot at the death of Granny Weatherwax, a pivotal character in the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett. I think it’s great if a book can make you cry, it shows they’ve got the emotional content just right.

You know what? I also cried with Granny Weatherwax died.

Writing to market, the bane of writing or just clever marketing?

I think if you enjoy writing a genre that enables you to write to market easily like crime or romance, then that’s great. I’m still feeling my way with my writing, learning and growing and deciding what my next direction will be. I am planning a multi-book new adult magical realism series which will be more formulaic than anything I written previously so that will be almost like writing to market.

If you could go back to before you started writing and tell yourself something what would it be?

Don’t doubt yourself, keep going, never give up! Basically, what I tell myself now lol.

Has the way you write ever changed?

When I wrote my first novel, I was a complete pantser. That novel has developed into a trilogy so now I am realising the error of my ways. My fantasy novels are all stand alone but all set in the same world so to keep track of that I have a lexicon of specific speech patterns and I have a manual index card system with the pertinent details for each character and location written down – I’m hoping this will make it easier when writing future books and having to cross reference.

I am planning to plan my multi-book series but already I can feel the procrastination fairy hovering. Sometimes I think it’s just better to sit down and get on with the writing. Editing will sort the rest out.

Are any of your characters based on real people and has this ever gotten you into trouble?

Not yet!

Would you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert?

I’m definitely an introvert. I like going out to events but prefer to blend into the background and watch everyone else. Early nights with a good book are a favourite. I do like to have a bit of alone time, quite tricky when you’ve got small children, but I manage to escape and recharge every now and then. I’m not a great conversation starter with new people because I often can’t think of anything to say but that’s the great thing about being a writer – you can talk books, other authors, ideas and readers often want to ask specific questions so that’s fun.

Is there any grammar rule that is your kryptonite?

I have to admit; grammar is not my strong point. I rely on good proof-readers to steer me in the right direction when it comes to comma usage. But I am getting better. The more I write, the more I remember what goes where.

Do you research before or during the writing process?

Most of my stories are set in the future or in a fantasy world so I don’t need to research much because I get to imagine most of it myself. That said I do like to make sure anything I do reference is factually correct. So, for example. I researched what fireflies ate so that my character Sparks could join in with a lunch scene.

Dedications or not? Do you dedicate your books to anyone?

I dedicate all my books to my husband for putting up with me during the idea, writing and editing stages. I also thank my beta readers, cover designer, proof-readers etc. I think it’s important to thank the people involved.

What is your next project? Do you have one thing planned or many books planned?

My next book will be The Gaia Solution, book three in The Gaia Collection, my hopeful dystopia series. The book has been written in first draft so the printing out, plot hole filling, editing, rewriting and more editing stage needs to begin. I think that will probably be my summer project with a view to release by the end of the year.

What is the greatest thing you have overcome to be where you are now?

Self-doubt for sure, but I think that’s a constant when you’re a writer. It’s important to focus on the small achievements that go into releasing a book and taking the time to celebrate. It’s hard work and we all deserve to acknowledge that in some way before going back to the desk.

Thank you for sharing some of your story with us.

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About the author

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet based in the UK. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead, Claire went on to work in a variety of admin roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and Pinterest addict Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 with her debut novel, The Gaia Effect, setting her writing career in motion. She continues to write passionately and is hopelessly addicted to cake.

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