Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Author Interview - Clare Morrall


Author Bio:  Clare Morrall’s first novel, Astonishing Splashes of Colour was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003. She has since published: Natural Flights of the Human Mind, The Language of Others, The Man Who Disappeared, The Roundabout Man and After the Bombing. Born in Exeter, she now lives in Birmingham where she works as a music teacher, and has two grown-up children.

Hello everyone and welcome to another Always Trust In Books author interview! Today we have Clare Morrall who has recently released her latest book When The Floods Came. It is an amazing piece about family and the human instinct for survival, I have reviewed it on ATIB which you can see here. 

It has been a great opportunity to conduct a Q&A with Clare Morrall so a huge thank you for answering my questions! And thank you to Sceptre Books for both giving me the opportunity to be involved on the blog tour for When The Floods Came and sending me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Thats enough talk from me, lets get to those questions! If you enjoyed the Q&A then please share and comment on this post to tell me what you thought!

I loved When the Floods Came, I thought it was perfect balance of hopeful and fearsome! Could you give us some details of your inspiration behind the book?
For some time, I’ve had an image in my mind of people cycling on a motorway, and it’s taken me a while to work out how to make it happen. The idea pleases me enormously: a long, straight road with no cars or lorries getting in the way.  I like roads.  As one of my characters says, they are the blood vessels of the old world.
 I also wanted to set a novel very firmly in Birmingham, to give a sense of the city with its art and architecture, its heritage.  And I’ve long had a desire to set a novel in the future.  I wanted it to be a world that is still recognisable, still rooted in the past – the novel is partly about nostalgia - and also relatively benign.  I’m not very interested in violence or gangs on motorbikes or zombies.

I see you have such a diverse and wide selection of books out, what goes through your mind when you sit down to write a book?
 I usually start with a small idea – a setting or something unusual that has caught my attention – and when I start, I don’t really know where I’m going.  I take a little time to create one or two characters, to find names for them, then I plunge in.  I like that sense of uncertainty, the feeling that I’m heading out on an adventure and don’t know where I’m going to end up.  Themes gradually present themselves, and I keep them in mind, so that they mould the novel into a recognizable shape.  I’m interested in people, unusual situations, odd behaviours.  I would feel I had failed if all my novels were the same.

Could you gives us some insights into your career as a writer?
I’ve always been far more interested in fiction than real life.  When I was a child, most significant events passed me by - I was too busy reading to notice.  I’ve been writing for most of my life, seriously for the last forty years, but my first novel wasn’t published until 2003.  I wrote four completed novels before then - they’re unpublished - but my first published novel, Astonishing Splashes of Colour was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, so it was all worth it!  When the Floods Came is my seventh published novel, and I still have plenty more ideas stored up for the future.  So I’ll keep going for a while yet. 

What sort of environment do you like when you’re writing?
I prefer to be surrounded by space and silence, although I think I would continue to write wherever I was if my options were limited. For many years, I used to go to a friend’s house – she gave me the codes for the electronic gates and the burglar alarm - and wrote in a room at the top of the house.  Because I was short of time, I had to be very disciplined and start as soon as I arrived.  So now that I’m on my own at home and able to write there, I’m still reasonably organised.  I’ve experimented with expensive chairs, special desks etc, but I’m much more comfortable on the sofa with my laptop. 

Would you share a surprising fact about yourself?
I have a soft spot for the old Star Trek series – Captain Kirk, Mr Spock etc.  Not always subtle, often sentimental, but ...  I like stories, I like the ambition and things are often more attractive in the glow of nostalgia.  Sorry if that’s not surprising enough. 

Is it easier writing now or at the beginning of your career as a writer?
Now that my children have grown up, I have more time, and after the Booker success,  I can afford to not work so many hours.  I’m a music teacher.  I suspect I think more clearly now that I’m older, and I can see more quickly where I am heading.  I can recognise  problems more quickly, and worry less about  the way forward.  Computers are an enormous improvement on typewriters.  Corrections are so much easier to manage, but the downside is that I spend  longer rewriting, editing, tinkering. 

What attracted you to Sceptre as a publisher?
 Firstly, they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse for my second book, Natural Flights of the Human Mind.  I had several other offers, but theirs was the most generous.  As it turned out, it was a good move.  Carole Welch, who manages Sceptre, is a wonderful editor, very clever, who shares my tastes in literature.  She takes time and effort to ensure my books are the best they can be, and I completely trust her.  Her advice is always good.  I landed on my feet when I arrived at Sceptre. 

Have you read a book this year you would recommend to the readers of this Q&A?
I’ve recently enjoyed All the Light We Cannot See by Antony Doerr, which we read in my book group.  I was slightly reluctant to start it – a book about a blind girl and a young German soldier in the Second World War sounds as if it is going to be an indulgence in sentimentality – but I was very pleasantly surprised.  It’s a beautifully written exploration of blindness, science, the difficulties of living under occupation, set in St Malo.  I strong recommend it.

What is next for you in the world of writing?
I’ve just come to the end of my next novel  and now I’m rewriting and checking details.  It’s about two brothers who live in adjacent railway carriages but don’t speak to each other.  Once I’ve sent it off, I’ll start on the next one.  I’m already giving it some thought.

A huge thank you to Clare Morrall again for answering my questions and please check out the other events of the blog tour for When The Floods Came happening this week!

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