Claire Duffy blows me away with her writing output and subsequent energy for life. If you’ve wondered about blogging works of fiction, this post should serve as a source of inspiration. This winter I worked on a reader report for her supernatural Scandi-noir novel Stranger. Even though my job was to help note inconsistencies, I became immersed in a story’s intricacies and mesmerizing characters. Simply put, if you start reading her work, you are definitely going to be hooked.
Official Bio: Claire Duffy works as a screenwriter, copywriter and now novelist. After training at LAMDA and the Vancouver Film School, she worked in theatre and behind the scenes in the film industry before selling her first script. She has been commissioned by Swedish Television, published in Elle Canada and The Guardian, and accidentally blogged her first novel in 2014. Her feature film Guilty is due to shoot next winter in Canada, and she will be launching her first series as a self-published author this autumn.
1. Please provide a brief overview of your plan for a blog series of books.
For years, I’ve been circling around self-publishing and blogging a fiction series, and trying to figure out how I could make them work for me. I love the immediacy and connection with readers that you get by posting daily chapters, but just blogging a novel doesn’t really work. It’s too long, plus chapters and blog posts aren’t quite the same thing so you either end up with a blog that loses momentum sometimes, or a hair-raising novel (and not in a good way). Plus, on a practical level, it’s a lot of effort to pour into something there isn’t really any way to turn into income.
So I keep telling myself, it’s not practical, stop with the blogging.
But I love it so then I do it again.
I JUST FIGURED OUT THE SOLUTION!
I’m going back to my TV roots (where I trained and started my career) to PILOT my three book series. As blog series.
I know! Boom.
The pilot series will run for 5 weeks each, with bite-sized chapters posting daily. They each have a self-contained episodic story, so I won’t completely leave you hanging–but hopefully they’ll draw you into the world so you’re hopping from one foot to the other for the next few months waiting for the first book.
Of course I still had to pick one to start first, so I went with the one that’s been keeping me up at night lately:
The Low Road is set in Scotland, and it’s a Gothic thriller about a woman who escapes from an attempted murder–only to discover that she’s lost a year of her life.
And did I mention it launched TODAY?!
If this goes well, I think that every autumn will be my “pilot season,” because how fabulous would that be?!
2. Tell us a little bit about what motivates or inspires your writing.
I mostly write because I can’t not. I’ve been a daydreamer pretty much since birth (my poor parents were plagued by phone calls from concerned teachers about my imaginary pet lion and non-existent twin sister who was kidnapped). I’ve had at least one story ricocheting around my head pretty much every waking hour that I can remember. I think if I didn’t write them, my head would explode.
3. Writing aside, what passions drive your life?
I’ve been an ex-pat since my eighth birthday when my family moved to Paris, then to the US, then London (I’m from Scotland), and as an adult I’ve lived in Canada and Sweden. I think that sense of being an outsider definitely drives a lot of my writing. I’m also a weirdo who loves extreme water and winter sports, but is terrified of flying, so I think I explore fears and phobias and paranoia a lot.
Other than that, I’m a passionate feminist–if you’re looking for damsels in distress you won’t find them in any of my stories–and a history nerd. One of my passion periods is the 1920s in America for years–right now I’m just finishing the pilot of my series set in early Hollywood.
4. It’s hard to pick just one, but what do you consider your favorite novel and why?
That’s a real struggle–but I think I’d have to go to The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Partly because it was the book that introduced me to the 1920s, and partly because reading it was the first time I properly ‘got’ how a story can explore themes. I distinctly remember sitting in my teenage bedroom just being in awe of how many layers it expressed.
5. What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?
I used to have all different sites for the different aspects of my career (I work as a screenwriter, copywriter and blogger), but just this summer decided to consolidate it all into one: My blog there is pretty much a potluck collection of rants and musings and anecdotes.
6. What does your drafting and/or editing process entail?
I’m lucky to write full time (albeit for different media) so I’m in the habit of being fairly disciplined with my writing hours. On an average day, I start early–6am–and work on the main draft from the moment until I’ve hit my word count or lunchtime–whichever comes first! The afternoon is for work I can invoice for, then late afternoon (assuming my brain hasn’t turned to mush) I’ll work on plotting future projects, blogging, or general admin.
For years I thought that I needed the silence of home to be able to focus on a draft, but this summer I’ve been experimenting with taking my writing on the road, and I’m finding that weird and wonderful locations really freshens things up. Last week, I hit one of my best word counts ever by taking a tiny ferry far out into Stockholm’s archipelago (i.e. almost halfway to Finland!) and back again.
7. Are you traditionally published or self-published?
I’m just about to be self-published! I work more traditionally as a screenwriter (I have an agent, and sell scripts to production companies), and while that works for me on that front, I’m really excited about the entrepreneurial aspects of building a self-publishing business up myself.
I’ll definitely be turning to professionals for editing and book covers, and possibly for promotion down the line. I’m thinking about running Crowdfunding campaigns during the pilots which will go towards the production of each book. It would be partly to help towards costs of course, but even more about gauging the interest in each story. If a pilot doesn’t make its production costs, then I’ll consider whether it’s not the right time, or the project needs more work.
8. Can you offer one or two helpful tips for fellow writers when it comes to marketing and publicity?
Well I’m at the very beginning of my journey, so the short answer is: not yet! Part of what I’m going to be doing during my “pilot season” is experimenting with different promotion ideas, and hopefully making a start in building a tribe of readers for each project.
9. What future projects can we look forward to?
The next pilot will be Stranger. A couple whose marriage is hanging by a thread are drawn into a mystery to protect their son–but in righting an injustice, they inadvertently free a monster. It’s a genre I’m fairly sure I invented: a supernatural Scandi-noir 😉
Then I’ll be switching gears completely to launch Hollywoodland. It’s a drama set in a struggling studio in the early 1920s, about a group of female film pioneers–Downton Abbey meets Entourage, but feminist, if you will!
At the moment my thinking is to pretty much run one after the other (not least as I imagine it would be a slightly different readership for each), but if it feels like too much, I’ll hold back for a bit.
10. Is there anything else you want your potential readers to know?
I came to fiction writing accidentally. Deep down I’d always wanted to be a novelist, but I came from a theatre and film background, so somehow decided I was only qualified to write drama. A couple of years ago I took a brief career break to teach preschool of all things (long story!), and knew I’d need a little writing project to keep me going.
On a whim I came up with the idea of writing a blog as a character in one of my screenplays. I wasn’t really thinking in terms of fooling people–in my head it was just a writing exercise–but within weeks, people were reading daily as poor old Regan lived through a movie. When I got to the end of it, I realised that I basically had a (very rough) novel on my hands, which convinced me that I could maybe write one on purpose!
You can connect with Claire Duffy and her social media accounts via her website. And don’t forget to check out the launch of The Low Road.
Is there anything else you’d like to know about Claire Duffy?
Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2016.
Looking forward to The Low Road!
Thanks Candy, I hope you enjoy it!!
Fabulous journey and interesting take on self-publishing. Will be interested to see if and how your opinion forms during the process. Looking forward to all your projects and will tune in to The Low Road.
Thanks so much Jacqueline – I’m interested to see how it all turns out too! I figure I have so much to learn that diving in and experimenting is the best way… though we’ll see how I feel about that in a few months 😉 Thanks again!
I. Love. Claire.
A gazillion years ago, I found her blog via Katie Cross and it was love at first read. She’s the real deal and so crazy-talented I can’t even deal. I’m so excited for your new series and for all the writing you’ve been doing, Claire! xoxoxo
BEEEETTTHHHHH!!! Amazing Beth! I’ll forever be grateful to Katie (who is also amazing) for ‘introducing’ us xoxoxox
Claire, Your energy is contagious. That is something, when all you have are words. Well, the picture is pretty energetic, too. Happy autumn launch, and thanks for the Monday morning lift!
Thank you so much! Just out of shot in that photo is my three year old niece making me laugh, which accounts for at least some of the energy 😉 Happy Monday!
I’m a night owl and can’t imagine writing at 6 am in the morning. Also, as she says, she needs to write and she writes mornings and afternoons. That’s a big commitment of time and mental capacity. But I guess it doesn’t seem like work if it’s something you love to do.
It can be sometimes, though I find it’s refreshing to switch between creative and more technical work – it’s a slightly different part of my brain, I think! I’d love to be a nightowl, but my brain switches off at… ooh around 9pm 😉
I would love to accidentally publish my first novel! Thanks for introducing us to an intriguing writer. This is why I think being an editor would be such a fun job, you get to read all these amazing stories!
It was so much fun – though I very nearly psyched myself out when I realised what I was doing!
I love the Low Road pic you posted. It’s so misty and intriguing. I will check out The Low Road, it sounds great – I love Gothic thrillers. Good luck on the crowd-funding!
Thank you so much – I hope you enjoy it! Please do let me know what you think if you check it out!
This is one of those interviews, which have inspired me to immediately hop on to Claire’s blog. In fact I had to restrict my mind to first finish reading this and share my view to resist the urge to hop on! There is something in her answers, which have a strange pull…she seems to be different. All the best for your upcoming book Claire. Thanks Jeri for introducing us to her.
Thank you so much – that was so lovely to read! I hope my blog doesn’t disappoint ;-))
Fascinating lady with a most unique blog strategy. “Supernatural Scani-noir” – interesting!
Thank you – I hope it will be!!
This is an interesting case study of all the different ways you can tell a story. Good luck with the pilot series.
Thanks so much – I think I’m going to learn a lot from the process!
I heard about novel blogs but never read one. I am going to check out The Low Road. Thank you and good luck.
Thanks, I hope you enjoy it!
Fab interview, ladies! Thanks! I left a message for CS over on Wattpad regarding our mutual admiration of the 20s 🙂
Thanks – and I’ve just seen it, thank you! I’m deep into extra research for Hollywoodland right now, and don’t think I could get any more obsessed…
Great interview. I can feel Claire’s energy throughout. The whole concept of fiction blogging is very intriguing,
Thanks! I’m definitely still figuring out exactly how it works, but it’s exciting!
Fascinating interview with Claire. I’m hooked! I’m looking forward to following the new ‘Low Road’ series.
Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy it – would love to hear what you think!
Claire has such a passion for writing which dates back to her teenage years. I enjoy writing and wonder if I have that same burning passion. I guess it is the passion that fuels you to wake early and work into the early hours of the morning.
Blogging has allowed me to develop my writing skills and network with some wonderful writers such as yourself.
Sometimes working early in the morning is easier than other times 😉 I always say that if a story is interesting enough for me to wake up to work on it, hopefully it will be interesting enough for people to wake up to read! Good luck with your blogging!
Totally love the idea of Downton Abbey meets Entourage!! And what a great way to get your work out there. I’ll be really interested to see how the whole project goes. Another interview Jeri?
Me too!! I’m just putting the finishing touches on Hollywoodland’s pilot season now (hoping to launch it in October) and I am so in love with it! Thanks so much!
Love that there won’t be damsels in distress in your stories. There’s a bit much of that going around. I’ve never thought of/heard of blogging fiction, so off to check out your site and see just what that’s all about! Good luck with the self-publishing.
There isn’t half! Nothing more frustrating than enjoying a story only to have the heroine suddenly turn useless! Thanks so much – hope you enjoy it!
Another great interview with an author.
I liked the phrase “Deep down I’d always wanted to be a novelist”, I think we all that that desire deep down somewhere. Even when I was a pro wrestler, I was telling a story, except in the ring and not on paper.
I am curious about the Vancouver Film School, the director of the Saratoga Springs International Film Festival went there also.
That is such a cool perspective – and absolutely true, we’re all telling stories all the time in just about everything we do!
How interesting – always fun to hear about another VFS grad! I was there a very long time ago, but the writing program was great then!
Wonderful interview! Claire is clearly ambitious in many aspects of life. Best of luck!
Thanks so much!
I like how you keep trying new things and figured out that you could write and not just stay in one box. I think it is about exploring all avenues and being brave enough to take a leap of faith. Good luck on your future endeavors and like your spirit!
Thank you! The old adage about opportunity being where you least expect it is so true. Though it’s never quite that linear, at the time that I wrote Life is Swede, I definitely felt as though I’d flunked out of the film industry and it was just a creative outlet – then it turned into a whole new world!
I related to this interview because I come from a theater and film background as well (though not really as I writer – though I did have a short film I wrote get produced which I also got to act in.) It is interesting that silence isn’t always the best for concentration. I concentrate best when working in a coffee bar. It drives me crazy if the person next to me is talking loudly, but I somehow concentrate well with generalized noise.
It’s odd, isn’t it? I used to think I needed the silence of home, but definitely find more focus in a lively environment – though I know exactly what you mean about the person next to you talking loudly!!
**Downton Abbey meets Entourage**
I savored, enjoyed, and LOVED this entire interview.
Thank you, Jeri & Claire.
Thank you so much!! I’m hoping I’ll manage to launch Hollywoodland in October – I can’t WAIT!!
I can tell just by her photo that I would like Claire – so much energy! The approach she’s come up with to blogging her stories makes so much sense, and I especially like her idea about a “pilot season.” The whole interview made me smile – great way to start the day. 🙂
I’m so pleased – thanks! I’ve no idea how the pilot idea will go yet, but I think it will be interesting whatever happens!
Jeri, thanks so much for hosting this interview with Claire Duffy. Claire, I’m glad you’ve settled down to one website. I think I was trying to follow you on a couple, and, oh, that was hard 😉 I wish you the best with The Low Road!
Haha I have been a bit of a blog butterfly lately!! Thank you very much for trying 😉 After bouncing all over the place for the past couple of years, I think I finally have a plan… for now! Thanks again!
Great interview!. Liked the different ways in which a story could be presented.
Congrats on your launch, Claire! I hope your PILOT goes well. 🙂
Great interview. I especially enjoyed the part about where Claire’s inspiration for her writing comes from.
I am definitely going to take a look at her work.