Sunday, June 25, 2017

GUESTOPIA: Kidlit Author John Clewarth


John Clewarth

It's GUESTOPIA time again! And this month, we welcome...


John Clewarth loves to read scary books and watch scary movies. He has a scary wife and two tall, hairy sons, who could very well be werewolves. So, naturally, he writes scary books for kids!

And off we go with the interview...




Is this your first published book?

No, I’ve had two novels published previously, under the Mauve Square Publishing banner: Firestorm Rising (mg) and Demons in the Dark (teen)



What’s it called?

This one only has a working title at the moment, as it is still in the drafting stage, before I start badgering agents.


Which genre?

Supernatural horror



Which age group?

Young Adult



Is it a series or standalone?

I’m aiming for this to be part of a series; though the story itself is very much a complete tail in itself, the ending leaves a definite doorway for a sequel (said he, mysteriously!)



Are you an agented author?

No. I’ve previously self-published but I intend to get this one agented.



Which publisher snapped up your book?

No one yet – as I said, it’s in the drafting stages at the moment. I was going to publish it myself but I’m really keen to be part of a team that can help the book reach its wider audience. If it’s good enough, it will break through in time.



How involved have you been in the whole publishing process of your book?

I enjoy being – and always have enjoyed being – fully involved in the process. For me, it’s fascinating and almost magical to see the journey of the story, from its conception in my fevered brain, to the polished, finished article.



Do you have another job?

I do! Oh boy, yes. I’m a full time teacher. I teach English to 10-13 year olds. It’s highly-demanding but highly-rewarding too. Of course, it does mean that my writing time is a bit more limited than it is for some writers – so I guess I’m a bit vampyrrhic in my writing habits (nocturnal that is, not biting necks…)



Did you receive many, if any, rejections prior?

Not on this one as it is still not quite ripe, but I had my fair share before self-publishing my first two. I’ve learned a heck of a lot from that – and since that.



What created/what were you doing or watching when the first idea for this book sneaked up on you?

A snail was making its steady path in my garden and it left the inevitable slime trail behind it, in its wake. Innocent enough, but my mind transplanted that trail into the conception of a story idea (and a darn scary one at that!)



How long did you plot/plan until you started writing it?

Sounds terrible, I know, but I didn’t plot or plan at all, in the beginning. The first 15,000 or so words gushed (as if from a slashed artery – mwa ha!) on to the screen; that gave me a really solid bedrock upon which to build.



Once you started, did the story flow naturally or did you have to step in and wrestle it into
submission? 

Unfortunately, work conditions and commitments altered (there’s a horror story wrapped up in there somewhere!) for a while, and I had a hiatus from the story. I regathered my momentum a couple of years ago, recovered the mind-scent, and the story layered itself beautifully.


How many drafts did you write before you let someone read it? Who was that someone?

One draft! That someone was my very good friend and sister-in-words, Annaliese Avery – and I am strongly tipping that you will be hearing a lot more of her in the very near future.



Did you employ an editor/proofreader or did you have a critique partner/beta readers before you started querying?

Annaliese was/is my critique partner – but others are currently in the process of beta-reading for me.



Roughly how many drafts did it take before you sent the manuscript off into the real world?

It’s on draft 3 at the moment.



How many drafts until it was published?

Not too many more, I hope!



Has the book changed dramatically since the first draft?

A number of things has been tightened up – POV, pace, characterisation – but the basic idea that Sid the Snail gifted to me remained pretty much intact.



Are there any parts you’d like to change even now?

No. It sounds clich├ęd but it would be kind of like sending one of your children for cosmetic surgery. I love it just the way it is (he sings to the gently-lilting tune of Barry White).



What part of writing do you find the easiest?

The bit where people go, ‘Hey, John, that’s really good!’ Now for the sensible answer: really, I find the easiest part, the beginning. It’s all so pure and fresh and eager for life!


What part do you find hardest?

Re-drafting. Yep. Definitely. But the benefits are undeniable.



Do you push through writing barriers or walk away?

With the day job, I have to walk away at times – or I’d be a wine-stained heap of gibbering loveliness. But once I get stuck in, I tend to keep pushing the barriers until they see my way of thinking!



How many projects do you have on the go at the same time?

I had a sequel to Firestorm Rising in progress, whilst writing this one, and I have two super ideas for middle grade novels with an adventurous but humorous edge. Could anyone offer me another 4 or 5 hours in the day, please? 


Do you think you’re born with the talent to write or do you think it can be learned?

It can be both, I believe; though being born with a talent must always be a bit of an edge. I mean, there are so many dimensions to writing. These days, the writing curriculum is definitely geared towards grammatical correctness, rather than creativity and imagination – and those latter two are probably the hardest to learn.



How many future novels do you have planned?

Four at the moment – including the sequel to this one, the sequel to Firestorm Rising, and the two middle grade ideas. Thing is, more ideas keep scratching at the door each day. A nice problem to have though, that!



Do you write other things, such as short stories, articles, blogs, etc?

I love writing short stories, when I get chance. I’ve got one coming up in the summer, Amelia’s Labyrinth - as a podcast, from thewickedlibray.com. I’m really looking forward to that – and I hope listeners have a good, spooky time with it!



What’s the highlight of being published so far?

Getting out and about and meeting happy readers, signing books, sharing the whole fantastic experience.



Give me one writing tip that work for you.

Getting up early and getting the writing done before the family are up and around and the world has woken. It’s great to get a good stint in whilst the energy levels are good!



And one that doesn't.

Set word counts. Because of the nature of my teaching job, I can’t guarantee to myself that I’ll get a certain amount done each day. I always try to do at least a little each day though, and some days the flood gates fly open.



Can you give us a clue or secret about the next book?

When a freak electrical storm hits an island, a long-kept secret surfaces. One that changes the destiny of the lives of a group of teenage friends. And there’s that slime trail too… Best read in broad daylight. But more fun in the dark.



What question have you always wanted to be asked but never have? What would the answer be?

Q. So how do you feel now that you have won the Waterstone’s Book of the Month award?

A.  Fantastic!





Awesome! Thanks for joining us, John. And, here are our future congratulations for winning that Waterstone’s Book of the Month award!



If you would like to find out more about John and follow his journey, then these links will help.



Website:  www.johnclewarth.com 



Twitter:  @johnclewarth



And, YAtopia readers, come back in a few days as we have an AMAZON BESTSELLING YA AUTHOR joining us on the Guestopia slot to talk about her brand new book!


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