Welcome to another Q&A post here at Always Trust In Books. Today’s post is part of the #AllTheGoodThings Blog Tour. I am very grateful to included on the blog, as well as being given the opportunity this read the novel too. I have reviewed All The Good Things already, so please head here to check it out.
Clare Fisher is an outstanding author, with a remarkable career ahead of her. All The Good Things is one of the most relevant and moving novels I have read so far in 2017. I am glad to have the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her inspiration, work and writing habits. Before the Q&A, I will share some information about her debut novel and where you buy a copy. Then a few details about Clare. Then straight to the questions.
Book Synopsis: Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve ever to feel good again.
But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.
But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.
What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone – even a 100% bad person – deserve a chance to be good?
About Clare Fisher: The Short Version; I write fiction, both long and short. My debut novel ALL THE GOOD THINGS will be published by Viking, Penguin UK in June 2017, followed shortly by my collection of very short fiction, HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN with Influx Press. Born in 1987 in Tooting, south London, I now live in Leeds; my heart is stubbornly torn between the two cities. I’m represented by Zoe Waldie at Rogers, Coleridge and White. See the longer version and so much more on her website: www.clarefisherwriter.com
The Q&A! Thank you to Clare for answering my questions 😀
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions. All The Good Things was a remarkable read. What was the inspiration behind the story?
Beth’s voice came to me one night as I was going to sleep and it refused to let me go. I realised pretty quickly that she posed a big challenge but one I wanted to take up – to slip into the mind of someone who has had a very different, and more difficult, life than me. I wanted to create a character who was flawed and complicated, yet likeable.
Beth is a complex character and her story is relevant and meaningful. The book is a letter to her daughter. Was there any particular challenges to writing such an emotional story?
Interesting question! Writing fiction is always emotionally demanding but with this book it was particularly so. Sometimes I’d write a scene on the way to work, or to meet a friend, and then it would be hard to explain why I was feeling upset/shaky…
There was some tough subject matter included. Was there a lot of research involved?
I researched a lot into women’s prisons and the issues surrounding them. I read as much as I could by people who’d been to prison and spoke to some really helpful researchers who’d worked in the probation and social work sectors for many years. I also went and visited a women’s prison, which was enormously eye-opening and helpful. But much of the broader subject matter relating to social inequality and psychological precarity stems from my experiences and observations growing up in south London and working in secondary schools.
You have dedicated your life to the written word. I loved the novel, could you share a few details about the way you approached writing the book?
Thanks! I wrote the first draft around a full time job. This wasn’t easy and my approach was to write whenever and wherever I could — even if it was just twenty minutes on my train to work — but not so much that I lost my passion and enthusiasm for the project. The editing process was far slower and happened after a much-needed few months away from it; if anything, I enjoyed this stage even more. The distance, combined with my editor’s insightful comments, made it far easier for me to see the flaws in the current draft and how I might make it better. It felt like a process of refinement – like an artist adding colour and detail to a sketch.
If you could thank one author personally (living or dead) for their influence, who would it be?
Francis Spufford, author and tutor on my Creative Writing MA. He gave me exactly the right mixture of encouragement and constructive criticism when I needed it most.
Have you got any weird or wonderful writing habits that help you along with your work?
Only that I take a notebook almost everywhere I go, because you never know when inspiration might strike.
How is it working alongside Penguin Viking?
Great! The team have been so enthusiastic, knowledgeable and supportive at every stage. It’s also enormously exciting to see my work alongside the likes of authors I admire, such as Elizabeth Strout and Emma Healey.
The artwork is superb, did it meet your expectations of what the cover should look like?
I didn’t have any particular expectations about the cover but am really pleased with the final design. It’s far better than anything I’d have imagined!
Could you tell us a little bit about your next book How the Light Gets In?
I actually wrote it before I wrote All the Good Things… It started life as a live installation about light, dark and how we find our way between them. The stories are very, very short – some are only one paragraph long. So it’s a very different form to a novel, but shares my obsession with exploring difficult psychological places, the links between humour and sadness and writing in different voices.
I adore short stories, but never seem to read enough of them. Do you prefer writing longer or shorter works?
It’s like trying to compare a shower with a bath: they are both enjoyable, in their own way.
Have you read a book recently that you would personally recommend to the readers of this interview?
Flesh and Bone and Water by Luiza Sauma – this is another Viking debut that I devoured over the weekend. It’s set partly in London, partly in Rio and the Amazon jungle and it is tense and thrilling and beautiful.
Thank you for stopping by to check out the questions that I put to Clare Fisher. Check out All The Good Things as soon as you can. For more reviews, interviews and other bookish content please follow my blog and pop by regularly for more interesting posts! Please also check out the many other brilliant blogs that are taking part in the blog tour this month. See the poster for more details.