Saturday, August 3, 2019

Inspiring Interview with Clemency Crow, Author of Middle Grade Novel Taking Wing

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Today we are interviewing Clemency Crow, author of the middle grade adventure novel "Taking Wing."

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I wanted to be a mammoth when I grew up. That was between wanting to be a fox, a cat, a mermaid and (weirdest of all) a dentist! I mean, what child wants to be a dentist?

Then, as things became more serious, I wanted to be an architect. This lasted a good few years until I came to fill in my UCAS application. I’d just moved across the country and I didn’t want to move again to university so I picked the most interest degree that I could study at home.

And it was interesting. It just didn’t lead to a job. Then I decided I wanted to be a Primary Teacher. That did lead to a job, and a rekindled interest in children’s literature.

Now, I want to work part-time as a Primary Teacher, so I have time to do fun things like writing and, erm…editing.

Evidently, I want whatever I do not have.

Describe the plot of your new book, “Taking Wing,” in a few sentences.
Freya is pulled into a society where people live for centuries and wars last for millennia. This society is filled with tribespeople who can turn into birds and fly. When she makes friends with the crows, she tries to stop their war with the owls before her friends are hurt. To do that, she must solve a centuries-old murder and contain a destructive power within her.


Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
I read this book to my class of P4s and they enjoyed but there were dark parts to it I was concerned about. I’d recommend this book to children aged 10+ but it’s one of those reads that could be enjoyed by adults also.
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"Taking Wing" is filled with danger and adventure so it is best suited to someone who likes to read about characters in a pickle! I also happen to know it makes an awesome class novel, and classroom resources are available on my website!

What attracted you to the middle grade genre?
When choosing books for myself to read, I enjoy middle grade and young adult. I find the adventures more fun and thrilling, and there’s no complicated ‘he loves me/he loves me not’ storylines which get a bit tiring after a while.

I’m also on the lookout for great class novels to introduce to my class. I had ‘staples’ that I would read time and time again but this year, I have the same children as last year, so I have to find something new!

Tell us about the protagonist, Freya.
Freya is a really strong individual. She just doesn’t know it.

When she arrives at the crow castle, she is convinced that they are all much stronger than she is, but throughout the course of the book it becomes clear that this is not the case. She’s really sensible and is the only one in her class who has a part-time job. Her good sense means that it takes some convincing to persuade her that the tribesmen are real.

Inside Freya lies a shadow – an embodiment of her soul. This is inside each of us but what makes Freya so special is that she learns to use her shadow to control the ‘blue light’ (a fire that gives the owner special power). The shadow, however, can get out of control very easily.

The guardians play a major role in your story. What can you share about them?
The guardians’ original purpose was to protect mankind. However, they started arguing amongst themselves and the war that began meant they lost sight of their task. Now, they are just immortal beings that can use the ‘blue light’.

Because they were made to protect people, if they kill a human, they lose their own immortality and die. However, if humans are around them for too long, then the guardians unwillingly drain their energy. Because of this, they live apart from society.

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Author Clemency Crow.
Who was your favorite character to write?
Oh my goodness, I love writing about baddies! For "Taking Wing," that would be Raedwald, the owl king. He’s just so…bad! I loved coming up with cheesy one-liners for him to say, but also, I like how he has an understandable side to him. You can almost understand why he is so evil to the crows.

What inspirations contributed to this book?
My childhood reading wasn’t much! I loved Alan Garner, but other than that I just read my sisters’ stories. It was these stories that really shaped my writing and it took me a little while for me to develop my own voice away from what I’d read.

I love animals and birds of all shapes and sizes! I always have. It only makes sense that my first published novel would be about birds. Nature is a huge inspiration for me, as is the countryside. I love being out in the country – it really gets my creative juices flowing! 

How long have you been writing?
Although I have only become a published author this year, I have been planning stories and writing them since I was very wee! I started a novel when I was about 7 years old. It was called The Rule of the Unicorns and it was a high fantasy story with, sadly, no plot! I keep meaning on revisiting the characters to see where they take me now.

The first novel I finished was called The Drandel Valley. I started it when I was 13 and finished it years later. That would does have a plot, but it needs a complete rewrite before I put it out there in the great wide world!

Occasionally, my sisters and I would have ‘Story Days’ where we would all sit down and write our main story. For me, that was usually The Drandel Valley but lately it’s been "Taking Wing." We’d have a great time, each lost in our own world, and we’d listen to our ‘inspiration playlist’ on Spotify. In the evening, we have ‘Story Night’ where we read to each other what we’ve written during the day. Together with homemade cocktails, it is a fantastic time!

How do you think you've evolved as a writer since when you first started?
Oh boy! My first ventures into writing will never see the light of day! That is, unless I can establish myself as a decent author first.

When I started, I was lucky if my story had a plot. It was mostly just about the characters and how they developed – but how can they develop if there’s no plot? Then, as I began to read more and understand what I enjoyed about books (usually a good juicy storyline with lots of danger!) I began to put this into my own writing. That’s how I started to develop. I would imagine I was reading my story for enjoyment and consider what I would find entertaining.

Are there any aspects (e.g. character building, world building) of your writing that you've been practicing?
I found "Taking Wing" tricky to write because of the ending. I knew it was going to be a trilogy so originally, I had a very poor ending indeed. There was no conclusion to the conflict, no satisfaction at all about it. When I read through my first draft, I knew this had to change. Ok, so the main storyline had to be allowed to continue, but there had to be something that was resolved in the book. I scratched my head for hours about what it could be, until I came up with a solution that (if I say so myself) is pretty awesome!

So, in future, I will be developing the planning of the stories, paying particular attention to the endings. I know I love a satisfactory ending so I need to write one for other readers!

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
I have so many ideas for stories – both in my head and written in my funky yellow jotter! I’m also aware that the best marketing I can do is to write another good-quality book so I’m hoping to release one every year.

Yes, I know some authors are releasing one every few months and, believe me, I would love to do that. Quite frankly, I just don’t know how they have the time to edit and redraft and edit and market a book in such a short space of time.

It would be amazing if I could work as a teacher part-time and write part-time, but I’ve a way to go yet to get to that stage. If only…

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like?
Absolutely! I don’t like that my sister, Judith, won’t read my stories until I have finished the first draft! Mean!

Seriously, though, I find the actual sitting down and making yourself write the book harder than it should be. When I’m walking the dog, or when I’m in the bath, I am writing sentences in my head and they actually sound pretty good. When I sit at the computer, looking at the blank screen on Scrivener, all those sentences abandon me! Once I start, however, this feeling disappears, and I can’t be dragged away from my laptop.

Have you ever had writer's block? If yes, how'd you deal with it? If you have not had writer's block, why do you think you haven't?
Yes, I get writer’s block quite frequently! I’d like to think it will get better the more writing I do, but I’m told this isn’t the case!

One thing I try is to make a playlist of songs for whatever story I’m writing. Sometimes songs remind me of certain characters. Sometimes they just fit in really well with the plot. Usually, if I sit and listen to these songs, the writing juices come to me and I am cured of writer’s block.

If this doesn’t work, I sit and plan a story. I might plan out the plot in detail, or I might write an intricate backstory for a character. I love making maps, too, and I find this helps get me into story-mode. After planning for a while, the inspiration returns and I can write.

What do you have in mind for your next project?
I have a few too many stories in the pipeline. The struggle is choosing which one to write.

"Taking Wing" is the first book in a trilogy so I’m currently on Chapter 10 of the 2nd book. However, sometimes when I’m not inspired to write that one, I continue work on one of my standalone middle grade novels. This includes Leo, The Railway Cat – a story that deals with difficult subjects such as mental illness.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
Only that the harshest critics in the world have approved it! Who are the harshest critics? Children!

Kids can be downright mean about literature they dislike so I feel like getting the seal of approval from them stand me in good stead.

During my blog tour, the ebook of "Taking Wing" will remain at 99p.

More Information
Find the book on Goodreads.
Check out the author's website.
Visit the author's website.
Buy the book on Amazon UK. 
Buy the book on Amazon US. 

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