I recently found the website 51writers.wordpress.com and Twitter hashtag #51writers which is a group of writers dedicated to writing strong female characters. There are so many great writers in this 51writers community and I recently had the opportunity to interview one of them. Keep reading to learn more about Claire Bartlett and her YA novels.
To get started, tell me a little about yourself.
I am a freelance writer and tour guide in Copenhagen, though I come from the U.S. I’ve also been writing since I was a kid, but got away from it in university years and came back after my graduate studies. Now I’m happily installed in Copenhagen, with my first novel out on sub and my second novel rattling around in my brain. At the moment my big project is renovating/ cleaning the apartment my husband and I just bought so that we can turn it into our enchanted forest cabin.
What tours do you do? That sounds so cool!
I do walking tours of the city, 1.5 and 3 hours.
Tell me about your first novel, and is the second one going to be similar genre/style, or something totally different?
My first novel is a YA fantasy about two girls who are recruited from different backgrounds to fly magical planes for their army in a state of total war. They have to learn to stand up for each other, as the first women’s regiment in the army, and they have to learn to stand each other and appreciate the skills the other one has. I’m out on submission to publishers with that one now. I’m working on a different YA fantasy project, totally different concept and world
I love that idea! I’ve been reading so many YA books about girls who are at each other’s throats. It seems like every YA book has a mean girl, and I would much rather read stories about girls helping and supporting each other, even if they are different.
Thank you! I wanted to write a story where female friendships and strong sisterly bonds were the key relationships, and I’m excited so far that a lot of people have been into that.
Tell us a little about your writing process. For example, do you plot and research extensively first, or see where the story takes you? Do you get the first draft down, and then worry about edits, or edit as you go?
I wrote my last novel jumbling the traditional steps. I researched, plotted, drafted and edited all at once. If I started to get restless with my draft, I did research until I was excited again. When writing I’d often realize that the scene had to connect in some way to others, so I’d open a new file in scrivener and write a quick description of what needed to happen. If I thought a scene was flawed, I’d go back and rewrite it. As a result I ended up with more of a second or third draft than a first. This summer I started ghost writing and found that with a stiff outline I can write 5,000 words a day. So I want to try that for novel number two. It’s never too late to experiment with your process!
5,000 words a day is amazing!
Thank you! 5,000 words comes with practice and planning.
My next question is, if you could, would you trade places with one of your characters? Why/why not? Tell us a little bit about the characters so we understand your decision.
I would not trade places with any of my characters! That’s mostly because of the world I made, haha. My main characters are two girls, Revna and Linne, who end up as pilot and navigator flying for the air force in a state of total war. The state is loosely based off the USSR so a lot of things are illegal (like being religious or gay), free speech is truncated as a right and women are called equal but not treated equally. Researching and writing these characters has been inspiring but I’ll pass on being followed around by the secret service
How autobiographical is your writing? Are any of your characters just like you, or do you write characters nothing like yourself? Do you put any of your own quirks or habits into the story?
I try not to be too autobiographical, I’m too boring! [I doubt that] I do end up putting physical quirks in often, mainly when I think, what would be a signal of x? I try to write varied characters and had to make characters actively different from me to be more interesting.
Thanks for the great interview. It’s great to get to know fellow authors so we can cheer each other on and help each other grow.