An Interview with Author, Claire Croxton

Nobody is better at mixing batches of snarky humor with dashes of poignancy than Claire Croxton, aka Patty Stith. Her stories and novels are full of three-dimensional characters who are funny, even snarky, on the outside. Yet, she teases the reader by subtly exposing the characters’ internal pain. Claire’s perfect blend of highs and lows captures every spectrum of emotion, drawing the reader in, page by page.

As she prepares for the release of two books in early 2012 by The Wild Rose Press, I am happy to introduce you to this talented author.

1) You are an artist in a variety of ways–in your writing, quilt-making and cooking. Many people have enjoyed both your writing and your cooking. Both are superb! I’m curious. How would you say writing is like cooking?

How is writing like cooking? That’s a good question. I approach both with the same methodology—total abandon. I’ll glance at a recipe to see what it suggests and then do it my way. Most of the time, the results are edible. I’ve learned to curtail that free-spirited approach with writing. There are guidelines for every genre and if you don’t pay attention to those you end up with a book that isn’t marketable. Of course, I keep telling myself that I’ve created the newest, hottest, bestselling genre,(soul-searching snark) but most likely authors need to get established before they can start breaking rules.

For me, cooking is a mindless outlet for creative energy. I love the challenge of cooking a meal for 10 on short notice—investigating the contents of my pantry and freezer in order to whip up a delectable meal. Writing offers a similar challenge. For example, a scene that needs to convey a certain emotion. I sit before a blank computer screen and let my fingers fly. No real thought to it. Unlike cooking though, the results aren’t always readable.

2) Was becoming a writer an inevitability for you? What was your path to becoming a writer?

Yep. It was destined. My brother taught me how to read when I was four. Both of my grandmothers lived within 2 blocks of the public library and I spent most of my childhood there. I still have my first library card. I got it when I was 6. By the time I was 8, I was writing stories in notebooks and I always kept a journal.

It never occurred to me that I could be a “writer.” I always thought I had to have a real job. So, I taught high school, English and History. When I moved to Alaska, I worked as a grant writer/administrator for years. I loved the job because it combined my two favorite things, writing and project management (I get a perverse pleasure from getting things done ahead of schedule.) It was a very stressful job though and the writing was strictly technical.

One day at lunch with a friend in Anchorage, I was bemoaning the fact that I never got to write fun stuff anymore. He encouraged me to write a book. The thought had been running around in my mostly empty brain for years. He was the right person at the right time to encourage me and boom! Three years later my first books are being released.

3) Your book, The Redneck Ex, will be released by Wild Rose Press on January 20, 2012. Is it true you wrote your first draft during NaNoWriMo? Give us the pitch that hooked The Wild Rose Press editor, Rhonda Penders.

I did write the first draft of Redneck Ex during the 2009 NaNoWriMo. I have the chiropractor bills to prove it. I was writing so much that I lost feeling in my right arm. I was having too much fun to stop. The final version of the story is vastly different from the frenzied first draft, but I loved process.

I started my current WIP, Ex-Ray, during the 2010 NaNoWriMo. I was busy editing this year, so I wasn’t able to participate, but I really appreciate the idea behind NaNoWriMo—setting aside time to give yourself permission to write garbage. Don’t stop. Don’t edit as you go. Get it out there.  Then go back and perfect it.

I described Redneck Ex to Rhonda Penders as: Northern Exposure meets Sweet Home Alabama. I’m not sure if that sold the book or if it was going to dinner with her. It didn’t take her long to realize that the voice in Redneck was authentic. It was either the story of my cousin the rodeo queen or my tale of cooking up a snapping turtle that convinced her I was writing from the redneck experience.

4) Many of your stories take place in Alaska and Arkansas. You’ve lived in or visited many other places in the world. Santorini Sunset, which will also be released by The Wild Rose Press early next year, takes place in Greece. Any other plans for stories with worldly setting?

Oh, do I ever have worldly plans! The hero in Santorini Sunset, Raul Sobrevilla, is from Peru. I want to do a sequel to Santorini set on Raul’s family’s ranch in Peru. I’m also working on a story, Loch Lonnie, that takes place in Scotland and Arkansas.

And I’m working on two short stories—one set in Japan, the other set in Dubai. The bulk of my stories are set in Arkansas and Alaska simply because I know those places so well. There’s still a lot of research involved to get facts correct, but I can close my eyes and see the settings. That helps speed things along when I’m writing scenes.

5) What’s the best piece of advice on writing you’ve ever received?

I can’t narrow it down to one piece of advice. There have been so many people involved in my writing career who have taught me valuable lessons.

My parents: You can do anything you set your mind to, sugar dumpling. Just do it.

Dusty Richards: If you edit while you write, you’ll never get the damn book finished.

Velda Brotherton: Sense of place…make the reader feel, see, smell, touch everything the character is.

Jodi Thomas: Triumph Comes Through Perseverance

The best writing tip came from my mother. We both make quilts. When you’re working on a sewing project, you stop mid seam so that when you return you know where you are and you can start right back up again with no problem.  One time when I was fussing because I could remember where I was in a story that I’d set aside for a few weeks, she recommended I stop writing mid-sentence.  That little tip has helped me tremendously. No matter how long I’m away from a story, I’m able to resume writing quickly and relatively pain-free.

6)  You recently created Trailer Trash Productions, a resource for writers who would like to create a book trailer. You’ve produced several beautiful trailers, some of which are shown in this blog. Please tell us about Trailer Trash Productions and the services you provide for authors.

Trailer Trash Productions works with authors to create book trailers that reflect the voice, setting and tone of their books. There are several different ways to approach a book trailer and many different elements that can be incorporated. You can go with a simple slide show with text set to music or you can be as elaborate as making video, composing your own music and narrating the trailer.

Anyone can do her own book trailer. It’s fairly simple, but the problem lies with copyright issues. Going online and downloading pictures from Google Images just won’t work. It’s impossible to know if the pictures you select are copyrighted or not. Same goes for music. Lots of people download the karaoke version of their favorite song, but even that is copyrighted.  Most people don’t think it’s that big of a deal, but if you’re using your book trailer to promote your book you’ll be making money from the end product. That’s going to get those folks whose copyright might be infringed upset.  That’s one reason why hiring a book trailer professional is a good idea. The other reason is producing a trailer takes a lot of time. Wouldn’t you rather be spending that time writing?

Here’s an example of a Trailer Trash Productions:

7) What’s next for Claire Croxton?

New York Times Bestseller, novels to screenplays to Hollywood-A-list blockbuster movies, vacation home in Tuscany.  Or…I’m getting another batch of feeder pigs whose care will cut into my writing time.  Either way, I’m happy.

Thank you, Claire, for some great insight into you and your writing. It’s cold outside and I have a cozy fire and  a glass of wine. Now all I need is the release of your books!

Have a peek at Claire’s book trailers by Trailer Trash Productions:

Visit Claire Croxton’s blog, Claire Croxton, Romance Author

This entry was posted in #amwriting, Claire Croxton, Dusty Richards, Jodi Thomas, Redneck Ex, Rhonda Penders, romance, Santorini Sunset, The Wild Rose Press, Trailer Trash Productions, Velda Brotherton, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to An Interview with Author, Claire Croxton

  1. Anonymous says:

    Jan, thank you for bringing us up close and personal with a great talent. Claire's voice is authentic and you can't help but laugh with her characters…and cry as well. I've had sneak peeks at Redneck Ex and Santorini. Love them both! Can't wait to get a copy and have Claire autograph them. ~ Linda Joyce


  2. madisonwoods says:

    You were right, Jan – I did learn some new things about Claire 🙂 I didn't know she offered trailer services – good to know!I already knew she had a great sense of humor and loads of talent and the skill needed to portray her characters with a full range of emotion, and I always love listening to her read at crit group.I'm excited to be able to say (about both of you) 'I knew her when'. Before we know it, both of you will be on the top ten list 😉


  3. Ruth says:

    Wow! I was going to interview Claire also but I you've covered all of it. I really have to dig deep for interesting questions. Claire Croxton breaths fresh life into romance!


  4. I am as excited as Claire is to see Redneck Ex come out. I loved this story from the first page. I'd forgotten about the Rodeo Queen cousin story and I laughed all over again this morning reading the comment. Thanks for starting my day on a fun note. Rhonda


  5. Denton Gay says:

    Nice job, Jan. Still, I was hoping you might delve into her racy alter-ego!Denton


  6. mgmillerbooks says:

    Kudos to Claire on the upcoming releases! And thank you, Jan, for the interview. I learned a few things today. I’ve heard but a small portion of Claire’s writing, but enough to know she’s fresh, funny, has an original voice and a wild imagination. If these aren’t the ingredients for best-sellerdom, I don’t know what it is. Hats off to you, Claire, for holding such sway over your readers. That’s talent. And cheers! to your success.


  7. Jack LaBloom says:

    Congratulations to Claire on her upcoming releases. I know both will be great successes. Claire is as sweet as the wonderful desserts she cooks up on occasion. From the samples I read, her romance novel recipe includes a good dash of humor mixed with plenty of spice.


  8. Russell says:

    Claire is as fascinating & captivating as the characters she creates. Many of us can't do one thing well, yet she has mastered several difficult disciplines. What a multi-talented individual. Thank you both for an excellent interview.


  9. Duke Pennell says:

    Jan, thanks for your questions. Claire's answers help us see her more clearly for the brilliant talent she is. Once the rest of the world gets to know her writing, there will be no stopping her.


  10. What an enjoyable tour with Claire Croxton. She's a bright spot in our writer's group and I know we'll see her books all over the place before long. Thanks for the mention. Enjoyed the trailers too.


  11. Beth says:

    What a great interview, Jan. Claire, I can't wait to read The Redneck Ex and congrats on your success with TWRP. I know another author who pubbed with them (Jennifer Jakes) and she has been very happy with all the promotions, blogging tours and marketing. Also, their covers are great.Glad to know about your book trailer biz–and I'll keep you in mind when my husband's big family shows up for dinner. Unlike you, I hyperventilate at the thought of cooking for so many people!


  12. Another great interview, Jan. Claire, Redneck Ex came in the mail today!!! Yahoo! I'm going to sign off and go READ!


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