Cate: Happy holidays, Claire! Please tell us a little bit about yourself:
Claire: I’m retired from the business world, a grandmother, recently moved from Los Angeles to a small town in the mountains, about a hundred miles north of L.A. I grew up in a small town in New Jersey, and I’ve always liked small towns. Which must be why the setting in my book is a small town! After forty years of business writing, I didn’t begin writing fiction until I was 70, publishing my first book of fiction at 72. My theme song should be “At Last.”
Cate: Better late than never! What do you love most about Christmas?
Claire: Getting together with family and hearing from friends and relatives who live far away. I love my Christmas tree! Always hate to take it down after New Year’s Day. I’m still waiting for a white Christmas, something I haven’t seen since I left N.J. Maybe this year!
Cate: We’re happy to share our snow, lol. Do you have a favorite memory of a Christmas past?
Claire: So many! But one from the year I was seven. I still believed in Santa, but from the top of the stairs, I could hear my father and a few of his friends dragging something in from the garage, and I admit I took a peek. It was a beautiful, old desk in olive green, covered with Chinese figures and pictures in reds and golds. I’d asked “Santa” for a desk, and I think my Dad found it at a pawn shop owned by a friend of his. Of course, it was hard to keep up the Santa pretense after that! I loved that desk for many years.
Cate: Great story! If Santa could grant one wish, what would you ask for?
Claire: Good health for at least a few more years. This past year has been a rough one, health wise.
Cate: Sorry to hear that. Hope 2015 is better for you. What was the best gift you’ve ever received? What made it so special?
Claire: That desk I talked about! No one I knew had a desk anything like it. It was old, beautiful (in my eyes), and totally unique.
Cate: Any favorite Christmas recipes you’d care to share?
Claire: Nope! I make the kinds of things lots of people make: Baked Ham, Potatoes au Gratin, sometimes Lasagna, and lately my husband likes to grill marinated chicken outside on holidays. I have no recipes that are strictly for Christmas.
Cate: Tell us about your latest release, and where readers can find it online.
Claire: My first book, “Blackthorne Forest,” is a Young Adult/Teen novel full of magic, fantasy, first love, and coming of age experiences. It’s about a teen, Cara, who lives next to a beautiful, mysterious forest that has always fascinated her. She’s read folklore that insists magic was present in the forest hundreds of years ago, and just before her sixteenth birthday, she discovers she holds some powerful magic of her own. She’s never known her father and starts to wonder if he has anything to do with this magic, as well as the forest she’s always loved. When she finally finds answers to her questions, she discovers a magical world she never knew existed, and her life is changed forever.
This is a clean read for ages 11 to 18, although adults enjoy it too! It’s available only at Amazon.com. http://amzn.com/0990892301
Cate: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Claire: They say, “Write the kind of book you enjoy reading.” I’ve always been a bookworm, and I own thousands of books. There’s at least one bookcase in every room in my house! But several years ago, I realized I was tired of reading books that were full of blood and guts, excessive violence, profanity on every page, and graphic sex. People were raving about “Twilight,” so I picked up a copy and loved it. I began reading Young Adult novels more than any other kind. I found I could relate to them; I have vivid memories of my own teen years, and I loved the innocence, the striving to grow up, the characters need for independence, all aspects of my own teen years.
There were so many things I didn’t do during my teen years that I later wished I had done, that I wanted to encourage kids to do through my books; Parts of the growing up process that I skipped altogether, which held me back going into my twenties. Of course, I grew up in a “simpler” time, but I’m convinced we need to allow our kids to express themselves, to make their own decisions, even if they fall on their faces. We just have to let them try again.
Cate: Very cool! Anything else you’d like to share?
Claire: “Twilight” had such a positive impact on me and on the books I’m writing, I really owe Stephenie Meyer a big thank you!
Cate: Thanks for joining the holiday party, Claire.