Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Claire is giving away an eBook copy of book one in the Elementals Challenge series, Fire Danger. For a chance to winn, comment on this post below.
Today: USA Today Bestselling author Claire Davon has written for most of her life, starting with fan fiction when she was very young. She writes across a wide range of genres. If a story calls to her, she will write it. She currently lives in Los Angeles. Claire’s website is www.clairedavon.com.
Newsletter signup: https://clairedavon.com/newsletter/
Amazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00IMP2KSU
Claire’s Reader Group (Claire’s Reader Muses): https://www.facebook.com/groups/388481941792498/
Thanks so much, Claire, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
Claire Davon: I’m one of those folks who writes across multiple genres. I say I write in everything except mystery/crime drama (although I am trying to plot a cozy mystery series, but so far haven’t completed anything). I read any and everything growing up and I think that gave me a taste for multiple genres. My style is a mix of things as well, from first person to third person and unreliable narrators to more omniscient. My style, like my genres, is a bit of everything.
JSC: What do you do when you get writer’s block?
CD: With my schedule, I can’t afford to deal with writer’s block. I always write a thousand words each day, no matter what, and most days also have editing and other things to do. Therefore, even if I’m not “feeling it,” I write. Whether I use any of the words or not, I write. Most of the time I find that some of those thousand (or more) words may be useless, but there are often nuggets of goodness in there. I’m otherwise too busy. The days when I have pure inspiration and a fire in my belly are magic but some days I simply have to slog through.
JSC: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
CD: I read a statistic early on that basically said your first two years of writing will be stuff you shouldn’t publish (I’m paraphrasing). Back then I thought for sure that was nonsense, that I already knew what I needed to know and that two-year rule wouldn’t apply to me. Well…I’m not saying that everything I turned out was bad, because it wasn’t, but I will say that over the last several years I have grown so much as a writer that the choices I made back then are different than the ones I would make now. What I would say to my younger self is be patient, learn all you can, write every day and grow. The things you will learn along the way will be amazing.
JSC: What do you do if you get a brilliant idea at a bad time?
CD: Write down what I can and maybe do a short outline before going back to my WIP – especially if I’m on deadline. I definitely don’t want to lose that great idea since today’s great idea is tomorrow’s series or short story, but I also can’t lose focus. I write it down and save it and return to what I have to work on.
Now, if I’m not on deadline and what I’m writing is a short story or novel that is in progress but not imperative, I might shift to that brilliant idea. I don’t want to be the magpie, flitting to the shiny things, but I also don’t want to ignore my muse if she’s patting me on the shoulder.
JSC: Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
CD: When I went back to writing about ten years ago my main goal was simply to take some of the ten or so first drafts of stories I had and get them into shape. As I started doing so, I kept going to my paranormal stories over my contemporaries and eventually gave in to that prevailing voice and started working on my paranormals. Those were what took shape over time. All my series except one are paranormal/fantasy romance. As a kid I was fascinated by mythology and read a ton of science fiction and fantasy but also liked romance with my fantasy. So that was what I gravitated toward.
As I continued on my journey and started also tackling short stories that was when I truly could let my love for multiple genres express itself. I don’t know that I’d want to write a full-length horror book, but I love writing spooky horror short stories. Same with science fiction. I read and still read it, and enjoy writing shorts in that genre. To me it’s the story that governs, not the genre. As for how I balance them, the story will decide what genre it has to be.
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
CD: Total pantser. The one or two times I tried to outline, it didn’t last. Since my writing regimen is a thousand words a day sometimes I literally will load a new file and grab an idea from my brain and start writing with no idea how it will end. Often from there I will have an ending and write the ending before going back to the middle.
That being said – I rarely have first drafts that are anywhere near publishable. It’s a three to four draft process.
JSC: Do your books spring to life from a character first or an idea?
CD: Both. My stories can be either character or plot driven, depending on the idea. Sometimes the story springs from an idea, or a thought, about a particular type of person and other times the plot is the thing.
JSC: How do you approach covers for your indie stories?
CD: I learned early on how compelling a good cover can be. I mostly use one artist who I absolutely adore, and she crafts covers that are beyond anything I can imagine. I spend some money on her but the thing that I wanted to avoid from early on is the cover looking cheesy. I have the utmost respect for cover artists. In my early days before I started working with her, I bought a fair number of premade covers and some of them are really fantastic.
JSC: Would you visit the future or the past, and why?
CD: Oooh – I started answering this question saying the future, but I also want to visit the past. I’d love to know what is going to happen in fifty or a hundred years but I’d also dearly love to go back to certain flash points in human history and see what really happened. It would be so fun – but then again history isn’t exactly what is portrayed in the books so I would also run the risk of having my illusions shattered. I guess on balance, I’ll stick to the future!
JSC: What are you working on now, and what’s coming out next? Tell us about it!
CD: I am working on a number of things with an eye toward release next year. Series wise I am editing the fifth and final book in my Elementals’ Challenge series, but that’s unlikely to come out before the middle of the year. In the world of contemporary romance, the second in my Lyrical Interludes series is with the publisher and will be released March/April I believe. I am editing the second Beyond Elementals’ Challenge book and hope to have that out sometime in the first quarter. I’m also starting to edit the fifth book in the Universe Chronicles series and that usually releases around late third quarter. Additionally, I will have a novella in Alpha Shifters Forever that is a continuation of my Maine fox shifters as well as a novelette that is unusual for me – it’s a single parent love story.
More will happen, but I don’t know what yet. It’s always a work in progress!
New releases are Earth Tremors, the fourth in the Elementals’ Challenge series, and Generating Gravity, the fourth in the Universe Chronicles series.
All these and more can be found on my website, with more information about me – www.clairedavon.com
And now for Claire’s new book: Earth Tremors:
Their love was unshakable—until danger severs their most critical connection.
Challenge is coming. Shani and Masud, the duo comprising the earth Elemental Sphinx, can feel it in the unusual tectonic shifts rattling the walls of their home in India, their refuge. This overwhelming sense of impending doom tells them it’s time to return to Egypt.
After decades away, they are strangers in their homeland. And to each other. Somewhere along the way, the most critical piece of their combined power—their mental connection—weakened and snapped, leaving their power vulnerable and their hearts adrift, even as another Challenge bears down on them sooner than anyone expected.
Their oracle, Ramla, offers few clues and even less comfort. Not only does she sense that Shani and Masud’s connection has been sabotaged, Ramla herself is dying—another vital link on the verge of breaking right when they need it most.
From the tombs of Pharaohs to the halls of Elementals, Inc., Shani and Masud race to rekindle their love and find out who is behind the danger hurtling toward them—before the world is once again swallowed up in blood and chaos.
They had encountered their first oracle when they joined Ramses’ court after they had become the first Elemental. Like the Elementals, the oracle was a power and not a person, each gifted with their abilities as the old one neared her time of passing. Their first one had been in the form of a harem girl, with a quick smile and lithe body. She had not been a favorite nor ill-considered in the harem. Her origins were mysterious. Some understood she had come from a neighboring country as tribute after a lost battle, while more rumors suggested her father had traded her for a debt. The truth was hidden in the depths of history and lost to time.
Shani didn’t think that the oracle had been influential in Ramses’ downfall. They influenced events but didn’t cause them. She was there to give counsel, not be the arbiter of change. After Ramses’ death, Shani and Masud had vanished from Egypt, and hadn’t encountered an oracle again for over a hundred years. From that time forward, they and the oracles, women who lived longer than normal humans but were not immortal, interacted as time and necessity demanded.
“How did you know we have been separated?” Masud asked, studying the oracle closely.
“Sphynx, after all this time, I’m surprised you would ask such a thing. I can sense the parting in you. It is as obvious as a fissure in the earth,” Ramla said, lighting candles throughout the space. She lit incense as well, and Shani smelled sandalwood. The room was sparsely decorated, with symbols and statues from at least a hundred different religions. Whatever Ramla’s roots, she did not play favorites among the gods. Inside, the villa was painted in earth tones, taupes and burgundies and sand. There was no overhead lighting, and lamps illuminated the area. Fringed rugs in bright colors—Moroccan, perhaps, or Bedouin—dotted the floors. She had little furniture beside the shelving to hold curios, but there was a basin on the side on a wheeled cart. It had to be a modern-day divining pool. Last time it had been made of plaster.
“Can you undo it?” Shani asked.
Ramla shook her head. “It is not something that I caused nor something I can reverse. That is not within my power.” She went quiet and then raised her head to stare at the ceiling. “To succeed, you must be parted. To unite, you must be separated.” It had the ring of a prophecy.
Shani glanced at Masud, who gazed back at her with no expression.
“I don’t understand,” Shani admitted. “Mind abilities are part of who we—all of us—are. Only weak paranormals cannot hear minds. This has never happened before. How is it we can be separated from one another? How can we succeed in our upcoming Challenge if we are unable to hear our other half? We are the earth Elemental and we must succeed. How could something do this?”
Instead of answering, Ramla pulled the rolling basin toward her and tapped the pool of water. Shani watched her movements, seeing the familiar in Ramla’s mind. It had always been part of their oracle’s gift to be able to prophesize using water. She could make a living reading palms, as others did, but paying customers did not like when psychics told the absolute truth. They desired pretty lies, not harsh realities.
Shani had hoped for a quick fix and now understood that had been foolish.
She tried to probe Ramla’s mind, but she had no entry points to explore. It wasn’t like Masud, who was a blank wall—this was a strong, protective shield. She would be allowed that which Ramla needed her to understand. Shani would have expected nothing else. Ramla inclined her head.
“If you want to know something,” Ramla said, with no censure in her voice, “you need only to ask.”
Masud nodded, but his jaw was flexing in a sign Shani knew from long experience showed his stress. She would have to relearn his nonverbal cues if this mind-blindness kept up for long. “I must identify the origins of Challenge to end Challenge. There has to be a way.”
“You have an additional trial, then.” Ramla’s voice was calm, with no sign of emotion.
They watched as Ramla studied the pool of water. She pinned each of them with her piercing grey gaze.
“To understand the why of Challenge, you must consider what Challenge is accomplishing.”
Masud frowned again. “It accomplishes nothing. It compels the Demonos to kill if we lose. Humans are protected if we win—until the next time.”
Ramla made a movement, something between a shrug and acceptance. “It kills, but it also creates. Many innovations have come from the needs of the human race to reform itself after obliteration.”
Shani nodded. “What does that have to do with Challenge? What does that have to do with our no longer being able to hear each other?”
“Consider, Sphynx, that Challenge is about creation. There is something Challenge is after. That is the why of it. You have to keep on. There will be no rest, no end to Challenge, until it has been accomplished.”
“How will we know?” Shani frowned at the woman.
“You will,” Ramla assured them. “There will be no way not to if you accomplish this. I haven’t yet determined why you were separated. Perhaps to make you stronger. You have too long relied on your pairing.”
She swirled the pool of water, and Shani wondered what she saw in those depths. Her probes yielded nothing. Ramla’s shields were remarkable. She had never perceived how powerful the woman was in past visits. Or was it possible her strength had grown since the last time? They had been away too long.
“There is much you do not understand, even after all these years.”