Monday, September 2, 2013

An Interview with Author Claire C. Riley

Hi, Claire! I'm so glad you could join us here in the blog studio. Make yourself comfortable. Would you like some tea? Fresh-baked zucchini bread? Help yourself. And let me know when you're ready. This is a combined interview and game show, where prizes may be awarded for great answers. The grand prize, should you win all of the questions, is a signed copy of my brand new children's novella, “Falling From Tree Houses, and Other Things You Should Probably Avoid Doing.”

Hi, and thanks for having me, Mike. 

I am so going to win this thing, woooo. Let’s do it!... Wait, I need to nip to the loo first, sorry, smallest bladder EVER… Okay, I’m back, let’s do it! Wait…can I have a cup of tea please? Twinnings English breakfast tea if you have it??? Ta’ very much, okay, I’m ready now.

Welcome back.  When did you start writing fiction? Was there anything in particular that sparked your interest?

I’ve always wrote, since being a very young girl. I used to read a series called Point horror, and loved it. I finished the entire series, and then decided to write my own horror called Edge Fear. Original, I know. Anywho, I then went on to write various other horror stories. One in particular called ‘Lips’ where the murderer would take the victim's lips as a memento and pin them on a little bug board. Seriously, I have to wonder why my parents weren’t more worried about me to be honest!

Your upcoming book, Odium, is set in a world that's been devastated by the zombie apocalypse. What's your favorite (or favourite, if you prefer) zombie movie of all time? And what are the first two objects you would grab in your house if a zombie apocalypse broke out?

It simply has to be the old school style of zombies like Night of the Living Dead by George Romero. In fact, I really loved the remake of it by Sam Raimi in…1990? Or something like that. It was actually that version that got me into zombies and all things horror.  I hate all these new style zombies. Super-fast and super-smart. Not only does it annoy the hell out of me because the believability factor goes out of the window (I know, I know)—but seriously, zombies cannot be fast if they are dead, rigor mortis anyone?! Hellooooo? But it also scares the hell out of me on a whole new level. I hated 28 weeks later. I literally ran to my car!!

First two objects that I’d grab? Hmmm, my car keys I guess and a big freaking knife since we don’t really have guns to hand over here. Not including family members of course.

I picked up a copy of your first novel, Limerence, and it was wonderful to see my name listed on the acknowledgements page. No question, really. Just thought I'd point that out. 
Thank you, by the way.  That was very kind of you.

Haha, no problem. I’m all for helping out and thanking my fellow authors. You gave some great advice when I was writing Limerence, and it meant a lot. Especially coming from such a talented writer as yourself. (Do I get brownie points for that one?)

:) And for people who haven't checked it out yet, what's Limerence about?

Limerence is about love, lust and obsession. Limerence is a very over the top intense feeling of obsession towards someone, and I wanted to show how it can take hold of you and stop you from having any rational thoughts—even when you’re a hundred year old vampire-aka Mr. Breckt. On the flip side you have Mia who is trying not to succumb to the powers that Mr. Breckt has over her. Her love for her fiancĂ© Oliver keeps her strong, but will it be enough? 

I tried to change things up a bit. Everyone I spoke to always said the same thing—
I would love to be a vampire. And all the books did the same thing—the character hated being a vampire. So I tried to do the opposite on both counts.

What is the most fun part about writing zombie stories? And what can people expect from Odium and your anthology, Life Ever After?

I love writing crazy and disgusting descriptions of zombies to be honest. Sick? Yeah, I guess I am a little bit, but it really gets the imagination going thinking of new and inventive zombies!

Life Ever After is the prequel to Odium. So in it we meet Nina and see how the events unfold around her when it all goes to hell, and how she deals with that. In Odium it’s several years later, and we see how the world has changed, and how she has changed, and hardened up I guess. It’s about how the world would change you, and what you would be prepared to do for others and yourself to survive. I love Nina. Everyone has been through a hell of a lot in the story, no matter who the character, but she changes throughout both stories and develops into a person she didn’t believe or know she could be. You see her dealing with all sorts of emotions that I think people will be able to relate to on some level or another.

I sometimes try to sneak in little inside jokes or references into my books which only a few people will actually catch (like the colors or mascot from my high school, or using birthdays in secret codes). Do you do this, too, and is there an in-joke or a secret you'd be willing to share with us about your books?

No in jokes as such, but what I will tell you is that 80% of the characters from Odium are based on real people and their real answers. Last year I put out an SOS on my blog and FB page for people willing to fill in a survival questionnaire, and as a thank you I would cast a character as them, or at least put their name in the book in some way or another. Some parts are huge, some parts are very tiny. But most of the story on peoples survival are actually based on ‘real’ answers that were given to me. Real escape plans, and real scenarios that I put out there. Some people basically killed off other characters with their answers haha. I will hold my hands up in defense and say that I never promised anyone that they would survive, though I have had several pleas from some of the people that filled it in to not let them get eaten. I never promised anything though ☺ Mwua hahaha

Cliched question time: Being a mom, is it difficult to find time to write? How do you manage to balance everything?

Haha, yes, very clichĂ©, but a good question. And yes, it’s incredibly hard. I have three young children and I work, so my writing is done when the toddler naps and from about 8:30pm right up to about 2am some days. Then I’m up again at 7am. It’s very tiring, but worth every minute.
And when my kids tell me they want to be authors when they grow up, I couldn’t be any prouder.

What's the dumbest question you've ever been asked? It doesn't have to be about writing.

I was once asked what the dumbest question I’ve ever been asked was. I sat there for like ten minutes thinking of an answer to that one…doh!

Does being British help your writing? It is where the English language comes from, after all.

To be honest I’ve found it a bit of a hindrance. Most of the big book blogging sites and most other writers that I’ve connected with are based in America, so sometimes my humor can get a little lost, and I’ve found that I have to check with some of my American friends now on certain things. Like the other day I had to ask if they had canned prunes over there, and canned rice pudding. There’s a scene in Limerence where Mia is eating Banoffee pie, and I’ve been contacted a couple of times by people asking me what it is. I thought everyone knew! Then there’s the spelling differences etc. I try to make my stories universal to be honest, but sometimes I come across things that I’m just not sure what to do on. Like we say Mum, and you say Mom.

Okay, now what's the dumbest question you've ever been asked?

Well I was once asked if being British helped me in my writing…

And the final question. This one's for one hundred points, and a chance to play for the grand prize. Remember that honesty is the best policy or whatever. On a scale of one to ten, where one is pretty awesome and ten is fully awesome, how awesome is Michael Matula?

Michael who? Naaa, I’m kidding, he’s off the freaking scale!
He (ahem) is a very talented writer, with a crazy and brilliant imagination, and a really nice guy too. A ten easily.

And now, please tell the folks at home about when and where they can find your books, and where you'd like them to look on the internet for your stuff.


You can also find me on which is a fantastic author imprint group that I work with. It’s a bunch of Indie authors who try and help promote each other. In fact, the anthology that I have Life Ever After in is a product of BHB and some of its authors. There will definitely be more from us all in the future.

Thanks very much for having me Mike, it’s been amazing. Please tell me I won that wonderful book. It sounds fantastic!

Congratulations on winning the interview!  You've been an excellent contestant, Claire. Thank you so much for playing.


  1. Thanks Michael,

    this was great fun, fabulous questions1

    Claire C Riley

  2. Thank you, Claire!

    I really enjoyed it, too. You were a wonderful guest. :)