Interview with novelist Claire Gillies

cover for on the edgeNovelist Claire Gillies is here today to chat about her new romantic women’s fiction, On the Edge.

During her virtual book tour, Claire will be awarding a signed copy of the novel to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, (it’s open to everyone), use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Bio:
Claire grew up in the highlands of Scotland, and in her early years moved to Edinburgh where she started her creative journey in theatre costume. Over the course of many years, she put the design experience on hold and worked in admin. Eventually her creative juices could not be contained any longer during the nine to five routine and Claire began writing her first novel, which was inspired by her time living on the Orkney isles. As well as being an author, Claire has her own fashion label, taking inspiration from her Scottish roots.

Claire now splits her time living in Melbourne Australia and the Scottish Highlands.

Welcome, Claire. Please tell us about your current release.
On the Edge follows Cat MacGregor, a city girl who leaves her dead-end job and dwindling love life impulsively, for a fresh start on a remote Scottish island. Cat adapts to island life, unlocking her passion for art, until the handsome and elusive musician Patrick Flannagan shows up, unravelling all her good work. All the while, Cat’s past haunts her, can she unlock her own secrets in time to love again?

This novel is a joyously feel-good read with an emotional side that will make you laugh, cry and fall in love.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was working the daily grind of a nine to five job and was looking for escape. I’m a creative person and the job I was in did not encourage that side of my brain. On my nights and weekends, I’d go to the park with my laptop and play about with a story in my head. In the midst of this new exploration, my husband had been offered a placement to work in the Orkney isles, so we took the plunge and I daydreamed about what it might be like to live there…then the book On the Edge was born!

 

Excerpt from On the Edge:
She gazed at herself in the mirror. Now, stop it Cat. He’s out of your league. What happened was a bit of fun, but now it’s time to move on. He has. She wiped her eyes, fearing the tears might make her face blotchy, and quickly reapplied makeup before anybody else came in. After a few minutes the alcohol began to take effect, and she felt surprisingly better. She went back to the bar, ordered more drinks, and went back into the dance hall where she soon found Jess.

“Oh Cat, there you are!” Jess took one of the drinks. “This is Andrew!”

Cat was very impressed. Andrew looked smart, strong, and was clearly already very fond of Jess. He smiled at Cat, and asked her if she wanted to dance.

“Take your partners for the Gay Gordons!” announced the fiddler and plunged immediately into playing a fast-paced jig.

Cat agreed, and left a smiling Jess to her top-up. The dance was simple, and Andrew guided her with strong hands, so that it was impossible for her to get the steps wrong. The beat became quicker and quicker, and Cat lost herself in the movement. Then as abruptly as it had begun, the dance came to a trumpeting end. Everyone applauded, and scrambled to find their drinks as the musicians drank away their sweat, and chatted amongst themselves once again.

“Great, eh?” said Andrew, breathlessly. “You’re a good dancer!”

“Yes!” Cat, exhausted from the dance, could hardly form words through her dry lips. “I need a drink though!”

Before they made their way back, Andrew asked if Jess was single. Cat was thrilled for her friend, and confirmed that she was. Cat had hoped that Jess would find someone special. Maybe, just maybe this was him? Before Cat could grasp her drink, she was approached by a younger man who looked a little nervous.

“Would you like to dance?” With his open, earnest baby-face, Cat put him at about eighteen, and was flattered.

“Yes, why not!” She fanned her face, trying to recover from the previous dance, ready to launch into another. This one was different, still with a deal of twirling, but with variations involving kicks and a burst of graceful hopping. Cat laughed as she missed a few steps, trying to keep up both with the music and her partner. She loved the movement and the strength of the steps; they made her feel so alive, like her stint swimming in the sea earlier that month. Her partner spun her around one last time, and the music stopped suddenly, and everyone clapped again. The fiddler started playing on his own, a much slower waltz to which Cat was about to start gliding with her partner, until a cough came from behind them.

“May I interrupt?” Patrick smiled, and looked down at them both.

“We’re just about to dance!” the boy said “Go find your own partner Paddy!”

“Come on now, Archie!” laughed Patrick, “you know I’m only good at the slow dances and there’s lots of girls lined up by the wall over there just waiting for you to ask them!”

The boy looked at Cat, then at Patrick, considering his prospects for a few moments. “OK then,” he finished reluctantly, handing his partner over without any more complaint, heading quickly in the direction of the waiting girls. Patrick took Cat’s hand in his and held her against him, leading her further onto the floor. The guitar and accordion joined in to bring the sweet sad song echoing out over the dim, crowded floor. Cat was now so close to Patrick, that she could hear him humming along to the music under his breath, and smell a warm, woody musk on his clothing.

“You know this dance?” he asked gently in her ear, making her body stand to attention.

 

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m currently writing about two sisters, completely the opposite to one another but are thrown together when their mother dies and they are to fulfill her wish; they must travel to Scotland to scatter her ashes. I’m really interested in the dynamics within family and wanted to explore this, all the while making it an uplifting read. I am still on my first draft, but excited about it so far. I am also editing my second novel, which I hope to release later this year. It’s about a successful girl working in fashion in New York, then she is forced to go back home to the highlands of Scotland where she faces her first love again.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Only recently! Myself and fellow author friend HD Coulter started a podcast “Aspiring Authors” and I guess while making that podcast and going through the motions of releasing this book I can call myself an author.

Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Currently my days are all higgledy-piggledy to be honest, I have a little baby and I’m lucky if I get down any words! But having said that, I have set the goal of 200 words a day, and that seems to be achievable..for now! I find myself rushing to my already set-up laptop when the coast is clear (aka baby asleep) and typing as fast as humanly possible! Taking little steps has made it possible for me to continue writing a book. I’m almost finished a first draft!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I used to have so many – but now I just work from the kitchen table. I would say I do relish my writing time; I enjoy the process of sitting down to write – sometimes not knowing what I’ll end up writing during that session. I guess a quirk would be that I love to have some form of drink in my hand…whether it be coffee, tea, wine etc. There’s just something about having a cup or glass next to you, it seems to go hand in hand with writing…and maybe a little cake or treat too!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Hmmm everything! I was a kid in the nineties, and girl bands were very popular! I always thought being a popstar was my calling, I’d dance in my room miming to music…then I turned 13 and suddenly grew shy! I shudder at the thought of being a popstar now, not at all my music taste!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I would recommend everyone going to Orkney – it’s such a beautiful spot! Standing Stones and ancient sites are everywhere, it truly is an inspiring spot. That, or read my book!

Links:
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