Welcome to Ruff Drafts, Clarissa. How long have you been published? What titles have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.
Once And Future Wife is my debut novel (after working as an editor for roughly a decade). In full disclose, I am on the board for Carpe Vitam Press but am in talks with another publisher for a three book deal.
That sounds exciting. Best of luck with that.
Tell us a little bit about your books — what genre you write, if you write a series, any upcoming releases or your current work-in-progress. If you have an upcoming release, please specify the release date.
Once And Future Wife is a time slip novel, not necessarily time travel as one character is immortal and the other is reincarnated. There’s dual timelines which was such a blast to write! I have an upcoming release for Pieces To Mend, a contemporary paranormal romance (again, dual timelines of past and present). It’ll be out for the world to see in October.
What interesting concepts. Even though I mostly write mysteries and a cozy mystery series, I have written a paranormal romance, Cloudy Rainbow, also my very first book. I also enjoy writing dual timelines when they work in a novel such as they did in Sea Scope and also Cloudy Rainbow.
Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?
While working as an editor, I’d never fully given up writing. Because of that, I have quite a few books in the pipeline and hope to get those polished and ready to roll. I am a big believer that authors are/should be agents for change. Every story has potential to give a slightly different perspective, creating space for empathy. Every character in every story is a bit different just as every person we meet in life. My goal—more than anything—would be to help those around us to be a little kinder to our neighbors and shed a softer light on mental illness, racial inequality…whatever that particular character is helping us with.
I really like that attitude, Clarissa. I also have a large stockpile of writing and hope to publish all of it one day. I also want my books and characters to touch my readers.
What type of reader are you hoping to attract? Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?
Fans of Susanna Kearsley and Amy Harmon (those are the authors I’ve been compared to) would enjoy my stories. A whisper of paranormal with historical or meatier topics.
Nice. You should attract a good audience with those themes.
What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?
Do not compare your journey to anyone else. And be flexible. This industry changes on a dime, so learn to dance.
I agree. You have to be happy with what you write in order to sell it and not be influenced too much by current trends.
What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?
For me, knowing if my writing was polished enough. I worked as an editor and held myself to a higher standard (and would become super frustrated when the idea in my head wasn’t matching the words on paper).
I can understand that.
Can you please list a brief excerpt from your book?
As a kid, Mom had taken me to several daytime practices of local plays. One by one the orchestra would tune each instrument. The cacophony was as soothing then as it was now. An image pulled at my heart. Mom was running her hands along the tops of the seats. Even with Garuda’s help, she wouldn’t be entering a theatre anytime soon. Until Stephen had accused her of coercing critics, I’d thought Mom secretly resented me for killing her career. But the nurse painted a different story. Right here, alone with my thoughts, there was a bit of relief and I wasn’t sure why.
The lights dimmed, and I shrugged out of my coat. Before I could save the seat next to me a couple took the last of the empty chairs. Earlier, Ty had come up with a plan. Whoever saw Denton first was to monopolize his time until the other could join. Between the two of us, we would find Denton and ask about my mother. My stomach twisted, no longer sure if we should be convincing Denton. I couldn’t admit it to Ty yet. He hadn’t seen my mother. To be fair, I didn’t fully understand what I was feeling or what had transpired at the hospital. The only thing I knew for certain was my mother was dying.
Without a master of ceremonies, the curtain rose, revealing two empty seats on the stage. A raven-haired man in jeans walked in, holding a small banjo, immediately followed by a blonde man in a tuxedo carrying a violin. The banjo player plucked a few notes and walked toward his seat. Just as he was about to sit, the violinist ran the bow across his instrument and mimicked the same notes. The banjo player nearly missed his seat, much to the delight of the audience. Like a soothing breeze, joy caressed each audience member, gaining strength row by row.
The banjo player began again, this time with a longer rendition.
With a toss of his hair, the violinist smiled. My heart leapt.
“Rhys,” I whispered. A spark lit inside me. Leaning in, I felt the fire spread.
Rhys matched the banjo player note for note. Four more times, they bantered back and forth. Rhys deftly stroked the violin into the cheerful fiddle song of cowboys. The banjo joined in mid-measure, and the audience clapped along. Faster and faster they dueled, each man furiously and happily dancing along with his instrument until they collapsed simultaneously with dramatic flair into their respective chairs to grateful applause.
While the men retreated to the shadows, a young girl in a white satin dress waltzed and spun to a silent dance in the center of the stage. With the help of a hidden orchestra, she sang O Holy Night in a polished, unexpectedly mature voice. She was followed by a blind woman, her cane thin and covered in twinkling crystals. She played a piano medley of David Lanz, Bach, and George Winston. The confidence she carried, the accuracy of her fingers. The audience—including me, watched in wonder.
Rhys entered the stage once more. He had visited me in my dreams, this fair boy named Rhys. The thought of his soft, golden hair and sky-blue eyes warmed my cheeks. Soft hair? I’d never touched it, but I knew it was smooth, fine. His laugh was airy and easily provoked—I had never heard him laugh. Nor had I ever touched him.
A small orchestra composed of several elementary-aged children appeared behind Rhys. With respectful silence, he began to play Partita for Violin Solo No. 2 in the appropriate D Minor.
My hands wrestled in my lap, tangling the silky folds of my dress. I had loved this song when my mother played it. She’d close her eyes and sway with the music. Even as a child, the emotions and the story resonated with me. It was a four-part tribute to Johann S. Bach’s first wife and her death. Rhys played the low hum to the youngsters’ accompaniment.
The loss of Bach’s wife was tangible, held in every note, the pain etched in Rhys’ face. I felt the unbreakable pull, the moth to the light, the lion to its prey, as I watched.
The mood of the music seemed to flow through his body, consuming him. Genuine.
I glanced around. Every man and woman sat frozen. They appeared engrossed in their own painful memory of loss.
I rose from my seat and kept to the shadows, inching along the balcony, closer to the side for the stage below. No one should feel this strongly about a stranger—at least no sane person. Unable to maintain my composure, I wrapped my arms around my waist and fled the auditorium.
With a hand on the rail, I ran down the stairs gripping the skirt of my dress. Someone called my name. Refusing to answer, I turned to another round of stairs, hoping it led to a back entrance. The light dimmed as I descended into the belly of the theatre. There was a feeling of comfort in the stairwell, urging me to keep going. My phone vibrated, pulling me back to my senses. With the back of my hand, I wiped my wet cheek. Only an idiot would cry like this.
That pulls you right in. Thanks for sharing.
What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?
Love this question! I love to ride horses (we own four) and I love to run. I competed as an equestrian in college and have never stopped loving horses.
My daughter went through a horse riding phase, but I’ve never tried it. I have started some jogging, but I need to watch my knees. It’s great that you have your own horses.
What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?
Honestly, balancing life is the biggest challenged. I love to give 110% in all that I do and that’s just not feasible. I have three kids and my husband has a very demanding job (he’s on call 24/7) in the medical community. What I love most is creating life and characters. Nothing is greater than breathing life into something—a home, a garden or a book.
I feel the same way. So much to write, so little time.
Thank you so much. I’m sharing your blog tour and giveaway below. Best wishes on your new release. It sounds great.