Which Way to Memphis? A Chat with Author Claire Applewhite

It is an honor to introduce Claire Applewhite. Claire was one of the first authors I approached when I was looking to reviews for Shattered Illusions. Not only did she give Shattered Illusions a five star review, but she also took the time to critique and shape the novel into what it became (there was a full year and a half before the review inquiry and the publication date).  Scroll to read all about Claire’s publishing experiences and her advice for up and coming writers.

 How old were you when your first piece was published? 

When my first novel was published, I was 53 years old.

How has social media helped/hindered the promotion of your work? 

The internet has helped in that in enables me to promote my work on a global level, and communicate more effectively with other writers. For example, on my own website, I can display my work, as well as photos of my readings and book signings, and announce events/appearances. I also maintain a Facebook page and a Twitter account, and write a blog for the Sisters in Crime website. Websites such as Goodreads and my Amazon Author Page offer readers the chance to post reviews of my work. If there is a downside to social media, it is maintenance; that is, it takes time away from writing .The reality is, social media and maintenance have  become a necessity.

How has your writing style changed over the course of your writing career? 

My style has become more direct. I keep a sign on my desk that says “CLARITY.” I’m very aware that, especially in mystery fiction, every word must advance the plot and needs to have a reason to be on the page. I’ve also learned to watch out for my pet phrases, Occasionally, they still sneak out like thieves in the dark. Though they can define the voice of a writer, such phrases, if overused, can also be very distracting. 

 Do you find that your work is semi autobiographical or based on real events, or is as far from your personal life as possible? 

 I write what I know. To me, that is the only way to create an authentic experience for another person. The Wrong Side of Memphis, for example, was set in an apartment building I knew thirty years ago. I didn’t realize how creepy I thought that place was until I started to write about it.

What advice would you give to someone starting in a literary field? 

Write everyday and read everyday, especially the types of books that you plan to write, but don’t try to imitate another writer’s style. Search for your own voice. Develop your own style. That is where you will find the most satisfaction with your work, and hopefully, the originality of your unique persona will shine.
How do you feel that your publishing journey (or journeys) has changed your outlook on life? 

It has taught me persistence. Never give up. I have always believed in hard work, but publishing will teach you that sometimes there are numerous roads to the final destination. Never give up.
It takes tough skin to be able to handle this business. What is your method of getting past negative or hurtful comments?

 Art appreciation, whether it is a piece of music, an oil painting, a movie, or a book, is highly personal and subjective. Not everyone will like a certain book, but there will be those who will, and those are your fans. Critics comment on the work, not on the author’s character. You can usually tell when criticism is meant to be constructive or simply mean-spirited. But again, don’t take negative comments personally. The evaluation is directed at the work, not at you. Remember that, and keep doing your best. Beyond that, it’s a subjective opinion.
Who has been the biggest help or inspiration to your writing career?

My late mother and my husband both encouraged and supported my efforts.

What was your greatest writing ‘success?’

Each time I complete another manuscript I feel successful because I disciplined myself to finish what I started. I love to type The End.

 Do you have a daily writing routine? If so, what is it?

I tend to write early, from 6-10 am. My quota  is a minimum of five pages daily.

What are your creative outlets outside of writing, if any?

 I study piano at a local university and have written music for my book trailers. Playing the piano is relaxing and expressive in a nonverbal way. 

 How do you think that electronic readers have changed the face of global markets? 

They provide access to readers and writers, increasing the selection and competition.

 If there was one thing you could change about your writing journey, what would it be and why?

If I could redo anything, I would have listened to a college professor who told me to develop a certain short story into a novel when I was a 21 year old college senior. It wasn’t until I was 43 that I found that story and decided to do just that. That story was my first published novel, The Wrong Side of Memphis.

You can learn more about Claire’s work by visiting her website. Claire also recently opened her own publishing company. You can learn all about the work she does and the type of writing she’s looking for by visiting the company’s website. You can read Claire’s review of Shattered Illusions here

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