Interview with Adrienne Clarke4 min read

Adrienne Clarke is a writer of YA and literary fiction. Adrienne’s short stories have appeared in a number of publications including The StorytellerA Fly in AmberNew Plains ReviewSilly Tree Anthologies, and in the e-zines  Les Bonnes Fees, The Devilfish Review, and Rose Red Review. Her story “Falling” was awarded first place in the 2008 Alice Munro short fiction contest. An excerpt from her second YA novel Losing Adam (also unpublished) recently won first place in the Young Adult category of the Seven Hills Literary Review contest.

What was the inspiration for “You Will Leave”? How did the story develop/change from conception to completion?

Chekov said, “every family is unhappy in its own way” and I think he’s right. Within every family lies some heartbreak, and usually a secret or two. Relationships between fathers and daughters can be particularly delicate and I wanted to explore the feeling of abandonment. The loss of a parent can have a devastating, lasting impact at any age, and I wanted to write about one woman’s attempt to come to terms with that loss.

How did the main character, Kate, first form in your imagination? Was there a pivotal moment, in the course of writing the story, where you discovered something unexpected about her?

Spoiler
Kate was a difficult character to write because I’d created such a painful future for her. How does someone begin to live in the present when they know something terrible awaits them? I didn’t know the answer when I started writing and I still don’t, but through Kate I began to understand the desire to live, to be in the world right now, no matter what fate holds in store for us.  Kate’s decision to be present in her life for as long as she can, and to accept her father’s love, flawed as it may be, is (I think) a tremendous display of courage.

How would you describe your writing and revision process? What have you found to be most helpful for you when dealing with writer’s block?

I feel like I constantly revise and yet at the same time I know I don’t revise enough. I have a good friend, also a writer, who says the craft of writing is essentially ‘rewriting.’ She’s probably right but I get attached to first drafts. At some point, however, you must be prepared to make changes for the sake of your story. In terms of writers’ block, I think the only cure is to write through it. Sometimes, you must give yourself permission to write many terrible words in order to get to the good ones.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received as a writer and what advice would you give new writers?

When I was younger, I only considered advice that talked about craft, how to make my writing better, but now that I’m a bit older I know that the best advice is: don’t give up. You have to decide to make good art even when no one’s paying attention.

What are you currently reading? What book has been most influential on your life or on you as a writer?

I’m currently re-reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon which has one of the most charming, endearing narrators you’ll ever meet. I like to come back to this novel every few years because it really is a love letter to literature. The second part of your question is much more difficult to answer! I’ve loved many books that have affected my life in a myriad of ways, but if I had to choose, I’d say Wuthering Heights for its intense passion and darkly romantic sensibility. It’s a book you can come back to again and again and make new discoveries.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thank you for asking! My first young adult novel Losing Adam is now out in the world and I’m thrilled that people are finally reading it. A coming of age story about first love, fairy tales and the pain of living with mental illness, this book has been part of me for a long time. For that reason, I’m very gratified that Losing Adam garnered a silver medal in the 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards and was selected as a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards. It’s now available on Amazon and in select independent bookstores.

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