Writer Mother Interview: Sally Clements
The following interview is cross-posted from Head above Water.
Sally Clements is a mystery and romance writer who lives in Celbridge, Kildare, Ireland. Her novel Catch me a Catch is published by Wild Rose Press. The novel is up for the Romantic Novelists Association’s, Joan Hessayon Award. Sally’s novel Bound to Love was also recently published by Salt publishing’s romance e-publishing imprint Embrace. Her children range in age between almost 18 and 10. When not writing she is usually to be found driving Mum’s Taxi!
When did you start writing? Had you established a writing rhythm or career before or did it happen alongside the kids?
I always loved writing, and did it for my own pleasure and satisfaction until about four years ago, when I decided to be brave, really write, and show it to other people. Terrifying, but satisfying!
What impact has having children had on your writing career?
Well, my children were past the toddler stage by the time I started. Before then, I found it impossible to devote the time to it.
How do you organise your writing time and space, Sally, do you have a routine?
I have a desk, and an office. I retreat there every morning when the children are in school, and write until school pick-up time. If the children are busy doing homework etc., I usually manage to fit an hour or two in the afternoons between school runs!
Is it possible to maintain a balance between writing and family/home commitments on a daily basis?
I’ve claimed the mornings as writing time. I maybe shove in a load of washing before I start, but leave the housework to the afternoons, when I’m out of the office and buzzing around. If I didn’t, there’d be no time for writing at all. Half terms, school holidays etc., are difficult!
How do the children react to your writing or the time you spend on it?
They’re sort of resigned to it. I think now since I’ve been published, they realize that I’m not just avoiding them, but actually doing something.
What do you find most challenging in juggling your role as a mother,your writing and other tasks?
I should do more housework. More cooking. And I always feel guilty that I’m not with the kids every hour. But I think it’s a good message to send your children, that you’re interested and involved with something apart from the family.
What have been your proudest achievements?
I think my proudest moment was when I first finished a novel in 30 days in National Novel Writing Month. Up till then, I didn’t know that I could write 50,000 words, and the sense of achievement for me was really exhilarating. I also felt fabulous when I received a glowing e-mail from Curtis Brown, saying they loved my writing. Unfortunately not enough to take me on, but it was a watershed moment for me, after a raft of polite refusals.
My first novel, Catch Me A Catch, was sold to the Wild Rose Press last year, and came out in July. Seeing my cover and realizing that the dream was coming to life was great! This book is a contender for the Romantic Novelists Association’s Joan Hessayon Award, and I’ll be traveling to London in May for the prizegiving. I’m nervous, but so glad to be there, whatever the outcome!
Last week I received the first paperback with my name on the cover. Bound to Love was published on Valentine’s Day by new e-publisher, Embrace Books.
How do you think you managed to create the momentum to make these breakthroughs?
I’m always learning. Constantly taking courses, and reading books on craft. I write all the time, and I think that this has built up a head of steam which keeps me going forward.
Do you think women face particular challenges in career/family life balance or is it something that both men and women face in equal measure?
I think men and women face it in equal measure.
Something has to give when wearing many hats; what is it for you?
I think I’ve realized that if you want it, you have to pursue it. You have to put in the time for your writing, and balance the feelings of guilt. My children and my family are the most important elements of my life. They always come first. But making time to write comes a very close second, because it gives me such joy to write and really fulfills me. It’s not so much about being published, as it is about writing a better book every time. And feeling pride in myself for doing that. Oops, I haven’t answered that question, have I? The thing that had to give is housework, and gardening. I need to do more – always need to do more!
What suggestions do you have for mothers or indeed parents who want to write or further a writing career?
However much time you can winkle, do! There’s always an hour or two available and if you can earmark that as your time to write, do it. Also, it’s really useful to get together (I do it online) with like-minded writers. You’ll spur each other on, share information, and challenge each other. I have a crit group called the Minxes of Romance, and together we all help each other. We have a blog: www.minxesofromance.blogspot.com.
- Catch Me A Catch, an e-book available from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, or the The Wild Rose Press.
- Bound to Love, e-book and paperback available from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, and Salt Publishing and paperback to order in all good bookshops.
- New Beginnings: a collection of three romantic short stories, available from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Smashwords, and all e-retailers.