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Interview with Chloe Hammond

A new interview with author Chloe Hammond

Welcome to the latest in my series of author interviews- this time introducing Chloe Hammond.

How did you come up with the concept for your latest book- what originally triggered the idea, and what challenges did you encounter in the process?

A couple of years ago I started developing acute anxiety symptoms. Part of which was experiencing some vicious nightmares and insomnia. I had a choice, I could either crumble, and let them take over my life or I could take the incredibly vivid scenes I was dreaming, and all the extra time I gained from the insomnia, and write the book I’ve wanted to write since I was seven.

Which is what I did. I realised that the dreams could fit together into a story I cared about. And as I hit my stride the story took over, and the writing soothed the anxiety.

When I started writing Darkly Dreaming I was working full time at a homeless hostel for teenagers, and fostering troubled teens. So finding time and energy for anything for myself was really hard. My self-confidence was low and I didn’t feel capable of creating something people would enjoy, so I wrote in secret. Once I had the diagnosis of depression and anxiety from my G.P, and started my medication, my mood improved.

I found openness about my diagnosis was helpful, although it went against the grain, so I started telling people about my writing too. Just a very select few to begin with, and when they read what I had written they liked it.

So we had a coffee morning and thrashed out back story and motivations, and these are my trusty criticals, the people who let me know when details were missing, or I’d repeated myself, and which tense I should write in. Over time my circle has expanded to take in other authors in my online writing group, Cake and Quill, without them, and my wonderful editor Cat, I couldn’t have created a novel I am so confident in.

Who would your three favourite authors be, but more importantly, why?

What? Just three? Goodness! My reading tastes are eclectic. I read anything I consider to be well written. I grew up reading Anne Rice, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, all the horror classics. I also read a lot of fantasy- Terry Brooks and co.

My three favourite authors at the moment are:

  • Barbara Kingsolver, because she can take an important time in History, and write about it for an individual’s point of view, so it becomes a back drop to their story. Her writing is exquisite, and I always feel like I’ve actually lived through what she has written about.
  • Terry Pratchett, I loved the way he used his imaginary world to say some much about this world. There is definitely more than a nod to Esme Weatherwax and Gytha Ogg in Rae and Layla. Understated and misunderstood heros, quietly saving the world in between Gytha’s conquests.
  • My third favourite author would have to be Fay Weldon, she writes about women, and all the mysteries of womanhood so eloquently; deftly weaving magic and the mundane into stories like no one else I’ve read.

Do you listen to music while writing, or prefer silence? If you do listen to music while writing, what genres do you prefer?

I need music to relax and create, and I’ve discovered Spotify. What I lie to do is plug my headphones into my laptop, call up the Folk or Country section, and then select the acoustic Love songs sections of those categories. I love allowing the lilting harmonies to catch my soul and lift out of the every day so I can write to the best of my potential. If I can only listen to CD’s then it needs to be Lana Del Ray, or Joan Baez, particularly the Dark Chords on a Big Guitar album, which contains my favourite line ever:- ‘Life is like a sun ripe melon; so sweet, but such a mess.’

Which social media do you find the most useful for marketing your written works and getting your work known? Are there any networks you consciously avoid? What methods do you find most useful in getting book sales and reviews?

I love Facebook, I avoided it for years, then started using it a bit with close friends and family to share photos and chat to people I don’t see as often as I’d like, but then when I created my author account I discovered a whole world of people who are as addicted to books- reading them, writing them, and talking about them- as me. It’s wonderful. I’ve become involved in several writer communities, my favourite being one Cake and Quill. We create anthologies together which we sell to raise money for charities- we are authors from around the world, writing for the greater good. If you want to get hold of me- that’s the best place to find me-just look for Chloe Hammond author.

I pop onto Twitter most days too, but I’m not so good on there. I find a bit like a room with lots of people in it, shouting abbreviated sentences that nobody is listening to, but maybe I’m just following the wrong people!

Do you feel that there’s any sort of future for books (in any format) and for the art of storytelling?

Absolutely. Storytelling is as old and essential as language. We teach each other so much, and share so much under the guise of stories. How could we escape our everyday lives without books and films? And we can’t have films without books. Personally I will always prefer a paperback, if for no other reason than the joy of lending a much loved book to someone else so you can share the pleasure of your newest discovery, and then sit and talk about it afterwards.

What would you say are the major challenges / issues for authors today- whether traditionally published or self-published?

The issue that I’m experiencing, being self-published, is the problem or poorly written / edited books which flood the market. It’s very difficult to find an unsaturated audience, and people expect often self-published to equal poor quality. I had several people read Darkly Dreaming to iron as many hitches as possible, and sent it to different editors, because I didn’t like the first one. Then I sent it to some more people to read, and then had my editor do a final polish and format it for me. I am very lucky to have found a great editor who appreciates my style, and charges very fairly while going above and beyond to help. However, after my unfortunate experiences with my first editor, who was a recommendation, I put a lot of time and effort into finding someone I can trust. I think anyone publishing a book has a duty to do this for their readers. Having said that, I have read several traditionally published books that have been abominably written or edited. I say read, I usually give up after a page or two. Life is just too short to read bad books!

Do you have any talents other than writing, which you’d like to tell us about?

Um, talking myself up is something I am still adapting too. Excuse me while I grit my teeth and take a deep breath. I have spent the last twenty years working as a support worker, in one guise or another, as well as having a degree in Behavioural Sciences. This means I understand people, and their motivations very well. I have met a lot of very unpleasant people, and a lot of very vulnerable people. I have met people who are stronger than you could ever imagine, and witnessed acts of kindness that take your breath away. I use all this knowledge to infuse my characters with depth and realistic motive.

Is there one single book in your life that stands out, or provided some kind of turning point, major change, or affected you so deeply in some way that it changed the course of your life?

There is a book called ‘Women Who Run With Wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, which I can only describe as a life saver. It’s a big book, and heavy going, but bear with it. It explores the ancient messages to women passed down through stories, and helps undo the damage modern, Patriarchal, society does to a woman’s soul. The best piece of advice I took from it was to imagine of my life as a saucer, one I need to keep moving, like a plate spinner. And while it is important not to let spin out of control, it is far more important not to let it stop. No matter how tempting it is to curl up and sleep sometimes, I must not, I must move, even when it hurts.

Finally, what new projects do you have in the pipeline / on the horizon? Which are the most important works-in-progress right now?

I have just started Darkly Dancing, Book 2 of the Darkly Vampire Trilogy. It’s desperate to be written. Rae and Layla are booting my brain every night demanding their voices back, but learning how to market Darkly Dreaming, and working to pay the bills take up a lot of my time and energy, and I have to be careful not to over-do things-it’s all too easy for my saucer to spin out of control again. So I’m snatching an odd hour here and there to do what I can. I can’t wait to really get into it. I have a few days off for my Birthday in February, and although I must get some essential decorating work done, I am adamant that I will get a chunk of writing done too.

I’ve also got a poem and short story due to come out in Cake and Quill’s latest anthology, ‘Hearts and Other dead Things’ released on Valentine’s day. In addition to which I need to create my new all singing, all dancing website and blog, now I’ve employed a marketing magician to help me make sense of that side of things.

 

Links:

Amazon UK:

Amazon USA

Goodreads

Facebook (author page)

Facebook (book page)

Tumblr

Twitter

Website (under construction)

LinkedIn


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