Claire Moss Interview
Posted on 18 January 2010. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
WriteWords talks to Claire Moss about her first novel, out now with Snowbooks
Tell us all about your writing background- what youve written, what youre currently writing
Northern Soul Revival is not just the first novel I've had published, it's the first novel I've written. Before I started writing it I had written a tiny (and I do mean tiny) bit of another book I vaguely thought I might write a thriller but once NSR came into my head, I never gave the other book another thought. I wrote a lot as a child, but in adult life NSR was the first time I'd seriously tried to write anything fictional.
Other work besides writing; ie. Editing, dramaturgy, tutoring, and how it works/worked for/against your own writing
I work in the Legal Deposit Office at the British Library, where every book published in the UK is processed. It lets me see what the competition is and which way the market is heading, but it can be overwhelming and depressing to see the sheer volume of stuff that is produced every week. It makes me wonder how anyone would ever find my book in amongst all that.
How did you start writing?
I can remember vividly the night I typed the first few pages of NSR. It was early January, there was nothing on TV, and I'd had a mini-row with my then-boyfriend (now husband). I was drinking a can of lager at the same time as writing, and I had got an ipod for Christmas so was uploading a load of CDs onto the same laptop I was typing on. Needless to say, out of the c. 2000 words I wrote that night, approximately 10 of them have survived into the finished book. Straight away, though, I was hooked, and I knew it was something I was going to persevere with.
Who are your favourite writers and why?
My tastes (like my writing, I suppose) are quite mainstream and not at all literary. The writer whose work I most aspire to is probably Curtis Sittenfeld. After I'd read American Wife, it wasn't that I felt I really knew the main character I felt almost that I was her. Which, when you think it's based on the life of Laura Bush, is quite scary. For chick-lit I don't think anyone can come close to Marian Keyes. If she were a man, she would be profiled on the South Bank Show and studied in book groups, like Nick Hornby (who I also love). I'm also a big reader of thrillers and am a huge admirer of Harlan Coben for making ludicrously far-fetched plots seem plausible with such believable, sympathetic characters.
How did you get your first agent/ commission/publication? Can you tell us about the process/journey? (or if you are still on it?)
I had sent my submission package to two or three agents and got nowhere. Working in the book trade, I knew of Snowbooks and their good reputation, and discovered that they accept un-agented submissions, so decided to try them next. A few months later they got back to me saying they wanted to publish NSR, with the proviso that I change the ending something I'd been considering doing anyway. I'm not at all precious about my work, so I agreed to the changes that was a year ago and I now have the actual book in my hand.
What's the worst thing about writing?
The constant self-doubt. I don't think you can be a good writer unless you are endlessly critical of your work, but it does leave you with a nagging sense of not being good enough.
And the best?
When it's all going well and the work just flows on a good day it can feel like I'm just transcribing a scene that is happening for real in front of me.
Tell us what kind of responses you get from audiences\ readers.
Everyone I know who's read the book has told me they finished it very quickly which either means they couldn't wait to find out what happens, or there wasn't much in it to detain them for very long ... Also a few male readers have told me that they found the voice of Carl (the male MC) very believable, which was a relief. I've always been very in touch with my masculine side, but it wasn't until a real-life man had read it that I could be confident I had got the tone right.
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