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?
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?
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.
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