Guest Spot: Bestselling Author Claire Allan

We're thrilled to have bestselling author Claire Allan guest for us, especially as her fourth book, “It’s Got To Be Perfect” is released today . Hi Claire, and welcome to Strictly.

Q. Can you tell us a bit about “It’s Got To Be Perfect” and where the idea for it came from?
It’s Got to Be Perfect is my most traditional chick lit book to date. It has more comedy in it that anything else I’ve written and I can honestly say I adored every second of writing it. It is a fairly upbeat story - one woman’s quest for perfection in her life, her relationship, her work, her friendships etc. The only thing is she seems to constantly get it disastrously wrong and she is envious of her friends who seem to have it sussed. Of course, we all know that there is no such thing as the perfect relationship and that everyone has their secrets if you dig deep enough. 

Q. Your first book, “Rainy Days and Tuesdays” was a massive success and dealt sensitively with the very real issue of Post-Natal Depression. Was this a cathartic exercise for you and what kind of feedback did you get?
It was a massively cathartic experience and while the book is not a misery lit memoir, there are passages which I find hard to read now as it brings back to me the very real pain and guilt associated with my PND experience (which I experienced after my son was born in 2004). It was a book I felt I had to write however and I’m very glad that I did and that I made PND a big part of the storyline. The feedback I got, from people who have been there and even from health professionals has been astounding. One doctor told me she would give the book out on prescription if she could! It was a very humbling experience, to be completely honest. 

Q. How did you find writing the infamously difficult Second Book, “Feels Like Maybe” (which I adored, btw!).
I loved it! I know at times, especially at the beginning while I was trying to get the voices of the two main characters just right there were times when I wanted to tear my hair out in frustration but once I had Aoife and Beth in place it was a joy. The book was one of those really happy author experiences where it just seemed to write itself and there were times I would read back the previous chapter and not quite believe it was me who had put those words on the pages. 

Q. Can you tell us a bit about your road to publication and how it felt to realise you were a ‘Bestselling Author’?
I had a very lucky experience - one which makes some people pea green with envy but it really was the case that my book hit the right desks at the right time. I started writing RD&T in January 2006 with a goal of finishing it by June. I did and that was the first and only time I’ve ever written a book in six months! I sent it out to agents and got a yes from the first lady I approached - Ger Nichol of The Book Bureau. She helped me through a few revisions and then, around October time we sent it out. By early December I was sitting with a four book deal from Irish publishing giant Poolbeg Press. Poolbeg advertise themselves as “the Irish for bestseller” but I never expected my book to hit those dizzy heights. Indeed my editor, Paula Campbell, went to great lengths to explain to me that sometimes it just doesn’t happen. It was an amazing and happy shock with RD&T hit number 2 in the Irish charts and I still a get a buzz when I see that “bestselling” catchline on my books. 
Q. You write a regular column on the Derry Journal, “Skirting The Issue” . Are you any different  since becoming such a household name?!
Oh God no! I still do the same as I did before - I still cover school prizegivings and courts and bomb scares and whatever else comes our way. I do tend to get kicked out of the office to all career events though as I’m a bit more high profile and occasionally people I’m talking to for stories get very excited when they realise who they are talking to. It’s very surreal because I’m still working full time to pay the bills and journalism is still a way of life for me. It is nice to get a wee ego boost now and then though - I can’t deny it! 

Q.Do you already have an idea for book number 5 and can you tell us anything about it?
As I write a year in advance, book five is well underway and should be finished in the next few months. Essentially book five is about friendships, how they can come and go but how someone will always survive. It follows three school friends, now in their 30s, as they take a holiday together and uncover each other’s secrets. It’s set partly in the South of France and I have loved researching the region, dreaming of chateaus and hunky French men. I’ve also really enjoyed exploring the dynamics of friendship. 

Thanks so much for taking time to be our guest today, Claire, and on behalf of everyone at Strictly Writing, huge congratulations and we wish you enormous success with “It’s Got to be Perfect”. Here’s to another bestseller!
You can find Claire here:
Released by Poolbeg Press


Charmaine Clancy said...

Good interview :-)

Caroline Green said...

Lovely interview. Thanks so much for stopping by Claire and best of luck with the new book!

Gillian McDade said...

Good luck with this one too, Claire! And thanks for joining us on Strictly.
Luv Gxx

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the next one, Claire. I wrote a book set in France one and had to control myself not to let the male character's speak like Kenny Everett's character who called everyone his 'leetle raspberry ripple' :)


Anonymous said...

Gosh, excuse the typos in that!

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Here, here - thanks for a great interview, Claire, and all the very best for It's Got To Be Perfect.

Fionnuala said...

Hey Claire! Great to see you here and wish you every EVERY success with Its Got to be Perfect...x

Rosy T said...

Very enjoyable interview - and best of luck with the new book, Claire!

Karen said...

I remember reading RD&T practically in one sitting it was so good and am looking forward to reading the latest :o)

Pea green with envy at your success story though!