Claire Wallis has penned hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles over the last ten years, with science playing the lead role in almost all of them. Though non-fiction writing will forever be her first love, fiction has unexpectedly swooped in, hooked her by the soul, and become her true love. As a result of this coup d’état, Claire’s writing career has made a complete U-turn, and instead of rocks, plants, insects, and microbes, she is now putting human characters in the lead.
Enamored with the process of creating messy characters filled with imperfections and wicked inclinations, Claire believes that you don’t actually have to like
a character to fall in love with them – a good story, after all, is best served with a hearty side of evil (just ask Disney). Claire’s first New Adult novel,Push,
scheduled for release by Harlequin MIRA in 2014. The story speaks to her appreciation of enigmatic male characters, perfectly capable of charming themselves straight into your unwilling heart. She enjoys writing about characters that are, at any given moment, both loathed and
loved. You know, the ones that refuse to be forgotten.
Claire’s previous jobs include working at a limestone quarry, hawking vegetables at a farmer’s market, clerking at the dollar store, and convincing new mothers that they need to renew their subscription to that parenting magazine in order for their child to survive. She lives in Pennsylvania with her amazingly awesome husband and son.
For more info please check out her WEBSITE
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What does Push mean to you?
When I was a kid, I used to write short stories. They were just a few pages of hand-written words, but they were always about a young girl who was experiencing some kind of tragedy in her life. I remember one that I was particularly proud of. It was called Opposite Streams, and it was about a high school track star whose parents were divorcing, and their split was going to take her little brother away from her. I remember giving it to my father to read, just like I did with all my stories. When he handed it back to me, he told me that it was good, but then he added, “Why do you always write about bad things? Why don’t you write about happy things for once?”. I was in 8th or 9th grade, and I remember thinking, “Where’s the fun in that?? Nice things don’t make interesting stories.” I still feel the same way. Even as an adult I’m drawn to two kinds of books: ones that take me into a different culture through the lives of the characters and ones that take me inside of someone’s mind, someone who is VERY different from me. To me, the best books take your emotions places they seldom get to go in real life.
I had an awesome childhood, and back then, writing about “bad things” was a way for me to explore a life – and emotions – I had never experienced myself. I gave up writing short stories soon after my father made those comments, but not because of what he said. Because I just moved on to other things. In a way, I guess PUSH was my way of returning to all that. Writing this book allowed me to delve into someone else’s head and feel all the things that they were feeling. So to answer your question, writing PUSH meant an opportunity for me to create two people who hopefully will allow readers to experience something they never have before. To feel things that might surprise them. And perhaps to sympathize with someone they might find completely unsympathetic in real life.
What inspired you to write Push? The genesis of David’s character happened years ago. I wrote a page of his words into a notebook in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep. David’s voice in PUSH is very different than his voice in my original notes, though he is the same person at the core. Those notes sat in the bottom drawer of my nightstand for several years, but I got them out when a lunch date with a friend turned inspirational. She encouraged me to make David’s words into a story, and PUSH is what came out.
Is anything based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Nope. The story is completely fictional. All the characters and events are imagined (though I do have a friend who’s mother would leave a blank check made out to “cash” on the kitchen counter every time she went out of town on a business trip, just like Emma’s mother does).
What books have most influenced your life? I use books as an escape from the familiar, as a way to mentally “run away” from real life. The books I choose to read are often better at enhancing my life than they are at influencing it. Two books that I have read over and over again are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith and A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. I loved them both because they made me feel something deep and completely new.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? My hope is not that the book delivers a particular message but that it delivers a series of emotions. I hope that PUSH makes readers think and feel and question what they believe is right. I also hope it opens up a dialogue between readers. That’s what I love about book clubs. I love being able to talk about a book with other people, to see what everyone else got out of the story. No matter how different the opinions are, it’s exciting to discover different views on any particular book. It’s thrilling for me to read reviews of PUSH (both good and not-so-good) because it allows me to get a better grasp on all the unique ways that people see David and Emma and this part of their story.
What was the hardest part of writing Push? Making sure the timeline added up. The sequence of events had to be just right in order to give readers a proper glimpse into the past while keeping the present David and Emma at the forefront of the story. Each chapter had to build on the ones before.
Do you have any advice for other New writers? Since PUSH is my first novel, I’m not sure I’m fit to dole out any advice on fiction writing. It’s all pretty new to me. But what I will say is that if you love to write, write. And keep on writing until you get to the end. You’ve got to finish what you start. Then move on. I was very lucky in that I wrote PUSH, signed on with an agent, and connected with my publisher in a little less than a year. I don’t know much about the fiction publishing industry, but I do know that some people write 10 novels before they hook up with an agent. Realizing that rejection happens seems to be a pretty important step. I guess the thing to remember is that you shouldn’t let rejection stop you. Be the kid that asks 27 girls to the prom before one says “yes”. The point is not that he had to ask 27 girls, but that he gets to go to the prom.
CHECK OUT MY REVIEW OF PUSH