Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Chloe Hammond
Hi Chloe. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
1. When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?
My primary school teacher read us a poem when I was seven, about dragonflies, and I was enthralled by how the words painted such a clear picture. Reading and writing don’t come easily to me, but after that I was addicted, and playing with words became my favourite pastime, after reading.
2. What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I have a dream that I can afford to support myself and my husband and pets from my writing, and we live in a lovely little home by the coast in France or Spain- I love the sun. I write a book a year or so, which while whisking my readers away on an adventure, also opens doors in their minds to new possibilities. I have a little separate annex where I offer writers retreats, offering peace and support for fellow writers. I have views over fields of sunflowers and vines, over a pretty town, and in the distance, the sea.
3. Which writers inspire you?
Barbara Kingsolver brings huge social history issues to the fore, by telling stories about the minutiae of ordinary people’s lives; Terry Pratchett told so many truths about this world and real people in his stories about made up worlds and peoples. He took the ancient route of retelling old stories, which access the lessons in them that we’ve forgotten. Finally, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who explores ancient folk and fairy stories, tracing their oldest roots, before Grimm and Disney prettied them up, and explores the essential truths they contain that we women, especially, benefit from learning.
4. So, what have you written? I have only been writing properly for about three years, since I developed anxiety and depression, and it has to fit around a full time job, house renovation, husband, etc, so I haven’t written as much as I would like. I self-published my first novel, Darkly Dreaming, Book 1 of The Darkly Vampire Trilogy about 18months ago. I’ve also had two poems accepted in two Cake and Quill charity anthologies.
5. What are you working on at the minute?
I am working on Darkly Dancing, Book 2 of The Vampire Trilogy, and really hope to be able to publish it for Halloween this year. I am also polishing a short zombie story for Stirling Roberts Publishing’s competition, and really hope it will win a place in their anthology.
6. Why do you write?
I love words. I love the way I can have a day dream or nightmare, and imagine an exciting story, then with carefully placed symbols I can encourage you to experience those same, or at least very similar, feelings. I studied creative writing as part of my degree twenty odd years ago, but after graduation it was always something I was going to do tomorrow, when the timing was perfect, so I could sit down and plan it all, and write the perfect literary masterpiece. By setting up such grand plans I didn’t write at all, apart from the occasional poem to make sense of my own feelings. When I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I recognised I had to allow my creative side to breathe again, so I just started writing. I didn’t worry about it being perfect, I just wrote what I enjoyed writing, honed that to the best it could be, and hoped other people would enjoy reading it.
7. Where do your ideas come from?
Symptoms of the anxiety and depression included lots of terrifying nightmares, largely about vampires. I started writing these scenes, and then created the story around it. Once I did, my characters introduced themselves to me, and quickly developed lives of their own, and very demanding personalities!
8. Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
No, it was planning to do all the plotting and outlining which became a big hurdle for me. I start each writing session with an approximate idea where I want the story to go, but Rae and Layla will come along and totally take over so the story gets a whole other slant I wasn’t expecting.
9. How do you think you’ve evolved creatively
I can see the difference in my own writing between when I first started, and my more current writing. It flows more easily and is richer, even too me as the writer. Like any skill set it develops and strengthens with use.
10. What is the hardest and easiest things about writing?
I hate marketing and self-promotion. It does not come naturally to me at all. One day I will earn enough to hire someone to do that side of things for me. However, I do love chatting with readers and other writers, either face to face or online, if that was all that I had to do, I’d be delighted.
11. Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?
I am utterly addicted to reading, I read every day. When I lived in France for 6 months in the 90’s I couldn’t find any books in English initially, so I ended up reading the sports pages in a week old Broadsheet newspaper, and I hate sports. Eventually I found a shop that sold the classics for 99p, so I ended up reading a lot more classic literature than IO would have otherwise. I love Deborah Harkness, she’s my favourite fantasy author, Pratchett and Kingsolver as I said above, and some of the old American classic authors, like Zora Neale Hurston who writes like she’s in the room talking to you. The books I like best are the ones that offer more than just a story.
12. What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
I’m a bit of a perfectionist; I wanted my cover art, website, etc, to be exactly how I wanted them. I hate it when people don’t quite have the same vision as me, and they insist on doing things there way, not mine. Self- publishing allows me to do things exactly how I want them, so everything reflects the inner vision I have for my ‘brand’, even if it does take longer. It’s a huge amount of work, and a steep learning curve; I’ve spent a lot of money getting a good website designed, but I’m learning new skills every day, and one day I hope to pass them on to others with my writers retreat. I may even open my own cooperative publishing house if I ever feel confident enough. I have been offered a couple of deals with small publishers, but turned them down in my determination to do it myself and learn all the lessons for myself. It may be slower this way, but it’s thorough!
13. Do you have any advice for other budding authors?
Just write. Don’t worry about getting it perfect; just get some words onto the page. You will slash and burn pages and pages later, and add and expand, and cut and paste, and change tenses and names, but first of all you need to tell yourself the story. If you worry about getting the first draft perfect, you’ll overwhelm yourself. Think of it like baking- the pummeling and kneading are essential parts of the baking process, as is resting, but you need the dough, mixed, in the bowl first.
14. How do you relax?
Reading, cooking, and cuddling with my husband, rescue dogs, and fat senile cat while we binge on box sets like Game of Thrones, Catastrophe, and Broadchurch.
15. What is your favourite book and why?
One? You can’t ask me to choose one! One of my favourites is the Book Thief because the delicacy of the language describing brutality and love is exquisite.
16. Which character from any book you’ve read, would you like to be and why?
Pratchett’s Esme Weatherwax, she is one of society’s odd balls, like me, but she doesn’t give two hoots. She has her best friend, and her pets and she’s happy. I would love to be able to not care what people think in that way, it makes you much happier. I’m far too sensitive, and have to constantly monitor myself so I don’t tie myself in knots trying to please other people. I also love the idea of being able to out poker hardened sailors simply by scratching my ear.
Thanks Chloe. I love your writers retreat plan. Definitely going to steal that idea. I wish you the very best of luck.
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