We spoke to Claire Merchant about her books, writing and a bit about her life! Read on to find out more.
Did you always dream of becoming an author?
I would have, if I had thought it was a possibility. I always enjoyed writing and stories, but I thought that the only way to make something of it was to become a journalist or something like that. So, I studied literature and media with the expectation to go into that field, but I didn’t feel like I quite fit the mould. Instead, I studied teaching in order to hopefully inspire students to love reading as much as I did, but again, it didn’t quite fit. All through my studies I was writing fiction, so by the end of it, I had some stories and decided to take a chance at publishing some.
What was your first job?
My first job was at McDonalds, working on the front counter and as a party hostess. I worked there from when I was fourteen to when I was seventeen, and I’m so glad I did. Working there helped my come out of my shell a bit, and allowed me to meet a bunch of different people and personalities. Everything is an experience, and experiences help a lot in writing.
How did you come about writing your book? Was that your intention or did you start writing for fun?
I started writing just for myself. I wrote for years, and then eventually shared my stories with a close friend and she encouraged me to publish them. I didn’t really think about whether they would turn into novels because I used to find it difficult to end stories, or I’d run out of steam before the ending came. That changed with one idea I was working on, and then the others followed and, before I knew it, I’d written a bunch of books.
What was your life like before you became an author?
My life was pretty much the same actually! I still used to write, but I suppose the main difference is that less people knew that I wrote before. So, the biggest difference is that now if I’m working on something, I can just say that I’m working on a story and they usually understand.
Did you face any struggles before becoming an author? If so, how did you overcome them?
My biggest struggle was dealing with reality, to be honest. I’ve always said that I’m lucky that I’m a writer, because having fictional friends keeps me sane. It also helps me to work through problems and issues, and consider different perspectives in situations. I have all these stories in my head, and I could never stop writing now. I’m glad things turned out the way they have because it’s changed my life in more ways than one.
Now that you are a published author, how has your life changed, if at all?
Probably the biggest change is that I’m more disciplined with my writing, and I’m more open with it. I promote my books more and think of ways to spread the word. But generally speaking, my life is still the same. People don’t necessarily recognise me as an author, but those that know me will talk to me more about what I’m working on, or books I’ve written, which is pretty cool.
Can you please describe a typical day in your life now?
It all depends on whether I’m working in my day job or not. If I am, I work around that, and after I’ve done that and a few exercises, I’ll settle in and write out any ideas I’ve accumulated through the day. Sometimes those days are as useful as the days I’m just Author Claire, because I can take a step back and normally have more ideas by the time I return to a story.
If I’m not at work, I try to structure my day to maximise my time. I check emails and sort myself out, then, if all goes well, pick up where I left off. The couple of things that I keep consistent and are typical from day to day are that I exercise and I write. The length of time I get to write just varies if I need to live in reality for a bit.
What is your most memorable moment of your life as an author?
Other than receiving my first box of books from Pegasus Publishers, the most memorable moment for me was probably attending Storylines Literature Festival at All Saints’ College as a guest speaker. It was incredible to be around other Australian authors and talk to them about our shared interest, as well as sharing my experience with students there. It was also the first time I felt like I fit somewhere in the Dewey Decimal System, and was considered a proper author.
You can find Claire Merchant's work HERE
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