We were lucky enough to have a direct contact with celebrated local author Lucy Clarke – her cousin is our very own Julia Hanlon, of Year 12!
After attending St Peter’s Sixth Form and Cardiff University, where she studied English Literature she embarked on a six-month trip with her future husband James, from Hawaii to the west-coast of LA with many road-trips in-between, keeping a notebook and travel journal all the time. She continues to travel which has inspired many of her settings and styles for her books, which include The Sea Sisters, A Single Breath and her most recent edition The Blue.
How did St Peter’s Sixth Form influence your passion for writing?
Well, here I developed my love of English; I took English Literature as an A-level and that became my favourite subject. It also got me excited about books and as the school is so near to the beach I would spend my time down there whenever I could which inspired me a lot also.
If you weren’t a novelist is there any other form of writing you would consider?
I think screenplays could be interesting; it’s a different discipline, your writing has to rely on the acting and be shown through dialogue. However my favourite form will always be novels.
How has having a child impacted you’re writing?
Well, there is less time, ha-ha! I had to go back to work when he was 8 weeks old. But definitely has been a positive impact, it has definitely deepened my emotional experience, has given me more empathy and it has opened up my perspective as a mother.
Which author do you admire?
I would have to say Maggie O’Farrell, she is an Irish writer and her novels are beautiful.
Out of your three most recent books which was the biggest challenge for you to write?
A Single Breath probably- it was a tricky subject matter to write about. There were moments of grief but love also. The main character Eva falls in love with her ex-husband’s brother so it was hard to write without seeming too crass.
Do you have any strange writing habits?
Well, I will usually create a music playlist for whatever novel I am writing, and then for when doing specific character I will create a playlist or listen to different albums for different characters.
Also I always write my first drafts by hand.
Does this make it seem more personal?
Yes, definitely, it gives a real connection between me and the story rather than typing it up straight away.
Finally, do you have any advice for any aspiring authors at St Peter’s?
Yes, I would say read as much as you can – I learnt to write by reading novels, for the books you read will most likely be the ones you end up writing – so try writing as much as you can and experimenting with all styles.
I had a friend who said: ‘I want to be a writer’. I asked her what books she read but she told me she didn’t read. I then asked what sort of things she wrote and she said ‘I haven’t written anything’. It’s like saying you want to play at Wimbledon, but you’ve never picked up a tennis racket. You will never make it if you don’t know your field of work.