Writing romance, an interview with Clara Grace Walker

I'm excited to speak today with self-published writer, Clara Grace Walker, who is this week's Self-Published Writer of the Week. She's the author of the romantic suspense series Desire Never Dies, and I had a lot of fun chatting with her about writing romance and self-publishing. 

TL: So Clara, tell me a little bit about your background and your writing. 
CGW: My love affair with books began as soon as I could read, and blossomed into a desire to write by the time I was 9. I began writing as a serious pursuit some years ago, and started my first novel, GRATIFICATION  while working in a law office. My “day jobs” consisted of office work, including work as a secretary, legal assistant and a risk manager. I never considered any of those jobs my “career,” however. In my heart, my true calling has always been writing. But, hey, those typing skills come in handy when you need to bring in a paycheck. In between the writing and the “day jobs,” I have also been busy raising a family, and now I find myself in the enviable position of being able to stay home all day and work on my books. I can truly say I am blessed and living out my dream!

TL: What made you want to write romance? 
CGW: I love writing about relationships and human nature. Romance, to me, is the embodiment of human relationships at their strongest. Love is such a compelling force, able to overcome so many obstacles, and yet terrifying, (for some), in the strength of its attraction. Because I also enjoy mystery and a sense of danger, I write mainstream romantic suspense.

TL: What made you self-publish? 
CGW: Back in 2012, my mother passed away, quite unexpectedly. And while I was always aware that life is fleeting and can end at anytime, being smacked with that reality made me realized if there were things I wanted to do with my life, such as writing and publishing my books, then I needed to simply do them and stop waiting around for someone to give me the green light. By that time there had been a huge growth in digital publishing and self-publishing. My overwhelming desire to write met with a lack of excuses, and roughly a year later, I published my first novel, GRATIFICATION.

TL: What’s the hardest part of being a self-published writer? What’s the best parts? 
CGW: I have several friends who are traditionally published, so I’ve had a chance to see, up-close-and-personal, the differences between the two publishing routes. My friends who are traditionally published get a lot of support from their editors and agents. This support comes in many forms, from advice and encouragement, to professional editing and marketing of their work. One friend of mine has her own publicist and marketing person. Her publisher bought ads in publications and provided opportunities for interviews and book reviews. Obviously, this is a huge advantage for a writer, and having to do all of this yourself is, for me, the hardest part of being self-published. In addition to creating my own book covers, I have no professional editing service, unless I find and pay for one. I have no promotional/marketing budget, other than what I can afford to pay for myself, and I don’t have anyone supplying me with my own publicist and marketing person. Although, I do have some very supportive family members, including one who is a skilled photographer who did my book cover photos at a price I could afford and another who has been great with creating promotional pieces for me to tweet and post on Facebook. As for the best parts of being self-published: for me, that’s freedom. While all of the responsibilities associated with publishing and selling my book are mine, so are all of the rights that go along with them. This includes, publishing under the name of my choosing, designing and using the book covers I want, choosing the titles of my books, and even word count. The finished product really is my own vision for my work. As with most things in life, there are pros and cons to each side of the coin.

TL: What makes a scene sexy versus cheesy? Great question! 
CGW: I have this little blog I barely write for, just some writing-related tidbits that occasionally occur to me. I have published exactly 5 posts to-date on this poor, neglected blog, and one of them was on this very subject. (You can find the post at www.claragracewalker.blogspot.com if you are interested). If I were to try and narrow the post down to its most important point, perhaps it would be this: sex scenes are not about sex, they are about emotion. If you stay firmly in your POV character’s head and really allow your reader to experience the intimacy through that character, you should go a long way in avoiding the cheesy.

TL: Who are some writers who’ve inspired you? 
CGW: I read a lot; many different authors from many different genres. My writing has been inspired in different ways by different authors. The most major influences would be: a) Ernest Hemingway – for his incredible prose and storytelling ability; b) Elmore Leonard – for his wonderful dialogue and unforgettable characters; c) James Patterson – for his riveting suspense and fast-paced storytelling; d) Jackie Collins – for her glitz, glamour & the sheer fun of reading her books; e) Sidney Sheldon – for his strong female characters and compelling stories; and f) JRR Tolkein – for his fantasy and adventure, and the way he is able to immerse the reader in another world.

TL: Thanks so much for the interview. Is there anything you’d like to add? CGW: I really, really appreciate my readers! It’s an investment of one’s time to spend reading a book, and I’m very grateful that they’ve honored me by taking the time to read my book(s). Also, I love hearing from my readers, and please feel free to contact me via my website: www.claragracewalker.com. There are links to all of my social media outlets, as well as to my books on my website.