Welcome to Write into the Wood’s first ever mini interview that I’m naming A Leaf From My Book.
And I’m very happy that the first interview is with Claire L Brown, a self-publishing author of fantasy stories and, her latest novel, a romance-drama, The Poppy Garden.
Your writing journey
Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm Claire L Brown, I was born and raised in Sunderland, England. I've always been a writer, when I was a child if I didn’t like the way a story ended I would rewrite it. I was also bullied as a child so books became my best friends. I'm a self publishing novelist, I chose this root as I had been down the traditional submission route before and had been disappointed, then after I lost my dad I decided not to wait for someone to 'find' me anymore, instead I would get out there and shout here I am to all who would listen.
What made you start writing?
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write. When I was young, I would rewrite fairy tales the way I wanted them to end (editor - I love this!). Then when I started school and was bullied, writing became my way of having friends and creating a world where I was safe. Since then writing has always been second nature to me, I don’t go anywhere without a notebook or my phone so I can record whatever comes to mind that might be good in a book.
Out of all of the books you read in 2017, which would you recommend?
I think two stand out for me, I loved Belgravia by Julian Fellowes, it’s a historical social romance. I love how he writes about history with such admiration and detail and how he weaves the story around how society behaved.
The second is a Christmas book by Heidi Swain called Silver Bells and Sleigh Rides at the Christmas Fair. This is the first book of Heidi’s I’ve read and I loved it. It evoked Christmas, it made me feel all festive and warm inside.
About The Poppy Garden
What inspired you to write The Poppy Garden?
I spent a great deal of my childhood with my Granddad. While my parents both worked on a Saturday my Granddad used to wake me at six and take me to the beach. I always thought it was just something he did to get out of the house while my nan did the house work or baked. It wasn't until after he died that I found out the beach was the first place he came when he returned home from World War 2.He was around nineteen when he joined the RAF in 1940, he was a tail gunner in a Lancaster Bomber. He married my nan in February 1944 and on the night of the 24 March 1944 he was part of a bombing raid over Berlin when his plane was felled by shrapnel and crashed. My Grandfather was the last to parachute out alive. He was arrested by the Gestapo and entered as a POW. He took part in the digging of an escape tunnel as per the Great Escape but before he could leave he was marched out as part of the Long Walk, a death march from which he escaped.
He returned home to his wife and raised a daughter and then two grandchildren. He was a strong man, I never heard him swear or lose his temper and he never told me the whole story of his time as a POW. As a child you don't really question the stories you are told, now I wish I had because his is a story I would love to read completely.
I tried for a long time to find a way to tell his story, the lack of information was always my stumbling block, until one day while digging in my garden it struck me how I had spent many an hour watching him work in his. It was then that I realised this was his way of coping with the horrors he had lived. He took the bad and made it beautiful, he turned the horror of war in to the beauty of a rose.
So I started writing The Poppy Garden, a story of an injured soldier coming to terms with his experience and the family that support and fight for him. I only hope this story honours his memory and brings beauty from darkness the way he brought beauty to his garden.
The Poppy Garden isn't a recounting of history but more a story of hope, of coming to terms with the experiences in life and finding a way to live and thrive and in doing so finding a way to support and help others who may be struggling.
What’s your favourite thing about Sky Robinson, your protagonist?
I love Sky because she is made up of all the strong women in my life. She goes through a lot and never loses hope, she finds a way to get through the tough times by focusing on the positive and caring for others.
Your cover is beautiful. Would you like to name drop the designer?
I work with Jeanine Henning on all my book covers – she manages to make the images in my head work on a cover.
Your publishing journey
What made you decide to self-publish?
I had tried the traditional publishing route for a number of years on different ideas and projects. After my father passed away I decided to publish myself as life is too short to wait quietly to be found, I wanted to get my work out there and share it with anyone willing to take a chance on picking up my books.
What’s the biggest lesson you learned while publishing your books?
Never stop learning and listening. There are so many groups out there that support and help authors from all walks of life, find a good one, develop relationships and learn from the experiences of others to develop the ways that will work for you. Most importantly never stop writing.
Do you have any other books planned?
I’m currently working on a new project with the working title “Dear Diary” which I’m hoping to release late 2018 all being well.
A big thank you to Claire for taking the time for this interview.
You can check out and buy The Poppy Garden from Amazon or any of these stores. You can also donate to The Poppy Garden Trust, aiming to help soldiers with PTSD.
If you'd like to do A Leaf From My Book interview and promote your writing, read how you can get involved here.