Let me introduce you to another wonderful debut author called Clare Wiker. She is a self-motivated historical fiction writer with a passion for modern American history. We met quite recently and I am really excited to have her here on my blog, so I hope that you will share in my excitement and read her interview. Then if you also have the option to download her fourth chapter for free before the release on the 6th of July.
Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I'm a writer living in rural Ohio, and I will be attending college this fall for GeoEnvironmental Science. I've always written, and finished my first (terrible) novel at age eight. I created the two main characters, Jack and Michael, when I was about twelve, but didn't end up writing anything legitimate for a long time. When I'm not writing, I enjoy hiking, reading, listening to music, and singing.
Did you always possess a passion for writing? When did you have the epiphany that you actually wanted to publish your work?
I've always written because my family are big readers/writers. However, when I was younger I used to announce that I would never be a writer, and look what happened. I never had an epiphany about publishing. My father is a writer and I've worked at two independent publishing companies, so I've been steeped in the writing/publishing world for years. In my mind the two go hand-in-hand. In fact, I actually wrote to an author once when I was about thirteen and asked if I was wasting my time by writing something that wouldn't be published. Of course, she gave me sound advice and said write and don't worry about being that right now.
You seem a bit of am American history buff? What is it about your country that so inspired you?
I'm fascinated by the kind of resilience that it took for the American people to become what they are. It takes a lot of courage to uproot and go to an entirely new country, and many of the people in Denver at the time were Chinese and Irish immigrants. Of course, that led to all kinds of tension and issues, and sometimes even resulted in a kind of economic imbalance. The conditions in Denver at the time were severe and yet many chose to stay and try to make something out of their circumstance. With Lest I Strike the Land, I'm trying to explore the darker issues of the time that would have led people to things like prohibition, and the Anti-Chinese riots.
On your blog you have many short stories that you have written? Why short stories? Some like them while others don't.
Mostly I wrote those to keep the creativity flowing. One, a story about a boy and a girl pursuing a chicken through the woods, I wrote because it made me laugh. I'm still unsure what it means, but I liked it.
Lest I Strike the Land is a story of a father and his two sons during the depression of 1893. It's both a political and a family drama. It outlines the economic struggles of the time, focusing on the events which led up to prohibition. The three main characters are Jesse, the father; Jack, the son; Michael, the adopted son. Jesse is a borderline psychopath with a highly addictive personality that has led him into all kinds of trouble. He's made such a negative impact on his sons' lives that they are both trying unsuccessfully to get out of his life for good. However, because of poor economy Jack ends up having to work and live at his fathers boarding house/bar. Michael is a kind of an anchored ship, unwilling to be involved in Jack and Jesse's relationship, but he still keeps getting sucked in. Things get bad when Jesse decides that he's going to protest against prohibition, and recruits both his sons to help him.
Where did inspiration for this come from?
History class, mostly. I was fascinated by the lower and middle classes of the era, and even more interested in the effects that prohibition would have on them. We don't view it as a bad thing now, but for them it would have meant doing away with a great part of their trade.
How did you decide the time and place of the novel?
I knew it needed to be during a depression, and 1893 is one that is often overlooked and undocumented. I think it's almost more interesting than the Great Depression, of which there are many novels written about.
Did you do much research into the era of 1800s? If so, what type and depth did you go into?
I basically did a lot of ground research of the important events of the era, and then when I needed something small I would just look it up on reliable sources. For things like clothing, I have about fifty pictures on my phone that I pulled off the internet of people from the 1890s. There isn't a whole lot of photographs of people in Denver that aren't upper-class, so I had to make an educated guess on what the poorer folks would have worn. I tried to keep the small historical details a secondary thing so as not to choke out the actual story. I was very adamant that this was relatable to young people who are struggling with bad economy even now in 2015.
Jesse, the character that gets the story moving, is probably the most controversial. People hate him, and he seems to make some quite upset. I think it's disconcerting for people to see a character with so many personality problems in a domestic setting, interacting in daily life. They sort of expect him to be in a straightjacket. My main goal with him was to show a character who is well-liked in the political sphere, outwardly charming and attractive, but just awful in his personal life.
Jack is the son who has borne the brunt of Jesse's craziness. He's quiet, and more passive, almost unlikable to the reader. He's worn down, even at twenty-one, and more sensitive than his father and brother. He doesn't like Denver and everything that is happening there, and would much rather buy a farm and raise some horses, but he can't seem to shake Jesse's grip.
Michael is the adopted son. I find him the most relatable of all three, because I think he goes through many of the struggles young people do today. He's unsure of what to do with himself, unsure of where he wants to be. He's also just barely hanging on in a bad economy, so he can't work his way up. It's very frustrating to be a young adult and not have any idea what to do, and I think that's something that young people will empathize with.
Who do you think would like your story and what kind of readership are you aiming for?
17-25 mostly. It was written to appeal to young adults who are having trouble gaining a foothold in their lives, which is becoming increasingly common.
How did you come up with the title Lest I Strike the Land and what does it mean for you?
“And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers; lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction—Malachi 4:6”. It's said in the book by Jesse, when he's trying to convince his son to help him fight the prohibitionists. Basically, he's saying that unless the father and sons come together, things don't bode well for Denver. It does however, take on a somewhat different meaning later on in the story.
You have decided to self-publish later on this year. Why did you decide to go down this route rather than a traditional publisher.
To be honest, I just didn't want to bother with a publisher. In this day and age in many ways it's easier to just use one of the many websites that allow for self-publishing.
Thank you Clare, this has been a great interview! I am so happy for you have made your dream a reality and have the paperback book in your hands. I wish you the best of luck with developing a strong readership and for a long literary future ahead of you. You have to keep in contact so as to let everyone know when your book comes out! Congratulations!
If you want to hear more from Clare and watch her dominate the publishing world you can follow her on her other accounts:
- twitter: @clarewithouthei
- her blog: http://blogofclareelizabeth.blogspot.com.au/
FREE SAMPLE CHAPTER
Quick overview: Jesse Griffin is a business owner in downtown Denver during a time when public opinion is shifting against the sale of liquor. In this excerpt from Chapter Four, Jesse discusses with two businessmen, Edward and Donovan, the difficulties of obtaining alcohol for his bar/boardinghouse.