I met Claire Gillian through AbsoluteWrite, a resource site for writers and, shortly thereafter, discovered that she wrote under not one, but three pen names (Claire Gillian – mainstream fiction and non-fiction essays, Lila Shaw – erotica and erotic romance, and a YA pen name). The mind, it boggled! We grabbed drinks at RWA last year, and I will admit to being a little relieved that she displayed only a single – very charming – personality. Though she did refer to herself in the third person the entire time…is that weird? J
You have the unique ability to combine strong sexuality with humor and suspense. Is that something that you intentionally work to balance, or does it develop organically during the writing process?
I don’t give it much conscious thought, to be honest. I write what I enjoy reading—romance, sex, mystery/suspense (sometimes), but nearly always humor. I look for humor in most situations and I especially love the ridiculous. Humor is subjective though, so I’m always taking a chance I’ll fall flat on my face with some readers. Sometimes I’ve consciously removed it when it felt inappropriate or too campy. Other times, I’ve had readers characterize a work or scene as funny when I hadn’t intended such. J Happy accidents are always fine with me. I never cease praying for luck to fill in the cracks and gaps in my skills.
However, I’m quite the cynic, though I don’t necessarily want to read or write about human misery. I wish I could write a starry-eyed / tearjerker to make people cry and sigh and tell all their friends to read it, but I prefer my fiction to make me cry with laughter. The other kind gives me a stuffy red nose that’s not at all attractive.
You’re writing prolifically, interacting under multiple pen names across the gamut of social media, inventing glorious blog features (Regrettable Book of the Week, anyone?), while maintaining a day job and a life. One question: Oh Dear God, How Are You Doing It???
Badly, I’m afraid. Actually, I have a really nice day job that pays enough to allow me to hire an occasional maid service to at least keep the CDC away. My kids and husband learned basic survival cooking and grocery shopping. I stopped watching almost all television. I cut way back on my exercise because I noticed that being buff had no bearing whatsoever on the quality of my work products whereas a fat butt in the chair did. Now, if I could train my pets to walk themselves responsibly and to use barf bags for hairballs I’d almost be set.
Beyond the time mismanagement, I’ve always been this eclectic type person. I was the one who floated between the various cliques in high school--never put down roots or committed to any one group. (Typical military brat.) I enjoy the challenge of writing in different styles and for different age groups. Diversity keeps writing fresh and fun.
To some extent I do regret having three pen names because it is more work and can be a pain in the tookus, especially when my YA pen name accidentally tweets something racy (damn that rascal Tweetdeck).
I consider Tweetdeck the great betrayer of social media. The things it’s done with my (not so) innocent tweets. *shakes head*
On the spot time! What are a few of your favorite lines that you’ve written?
I tottered toward the main entrance on my four-inch high monuments to bad judgment. (Gayle from The P.U.R.E.)
I leaned toward him, but almost started to laugh because "bosom" was such a funny word and my innuendo was more Tina Fey than Angelina Jolie. (Gayle from The P.U.R.E)
“I’m afraid I’m more a daughter of the Norsemen, preferring to pillage food lovingly prepared by others rather than to make it myself,” I said. (Gayle from Purely Relative)
That’s what we do in the Pacific Northwest—apologize, always apologize for the drizzle and clouds, for the constant lack of sun that will grip your soul and squeeze out every morsel of joy if you show a moment’s weakness. (Ellen from Louder Than Words)
A freckle-faced strawberry blonde in track pants and a "Save the Adobe Whales" t-shirt made me more likely to grace the cover of Natural Health--ironic since I was dead. (Dori from My Fair Vampire)
Love Dori! I think she was the first of your characters that I encountered.
Like me, you’re a family gal. Do you talk about the content of your books with your children and spouse? Do they read them?
With my spouse, yes, if and when he humors me. With my children, never and not because of the adult-nature of some of the material. My sons consider reading my writing as being even less exciting than doing their chores. My husband has never read any of my novels, though he does enjoy talking through plots for my erotic stories when we go on long walks. He’s actually given me some good ideas I’ve used.
What’s next for you, Claire/Lila? Will we see more succubi? And...I seem to remember a tantalizing “undercover boss”-type scenario involving a cruise ship?
On the front burner writing-wise is a novella for Lila called Wild West Succubus, the latest story in her Succubus Chronicles. That one is nearly finished. I have a novella sequel to The P.U.R.E. called Purely Relative currently being considered by a publisher. I also have a young adult novel called Louder Than Words that I’m querying but am seriously considering self-publishing.
I put the undercover boss 2012 NaNo novel on hold at the 60k mark so I could wrap up some pre-existing projects, but I’m itching to get back to it. Of course that’s what I said about my 2010 NaNo project, too, which also sits at about the 60k mark. Sigh…too many projects, too little time.
That is the curse of the creative mind, isn't it? Thank you so much for stopping by!
Claire Gillian is the pen name for a number-crunching executive by day and a darkly romantic curmudgeon by night. She also writes fifty shades naughtier stuff under the pen name of Lila Shaw, but please don’t tell her mother. Her writings typically involve strong-willed women with feminist tendencies, and are often playful, sarcastic and even silly. No matter which name she uses, she is happiest penning romance drenched in humor with a dash of intrigue and loads of spice.
Claire / Lila lives in the boggy Pacific NW with her husband, the Silverback, and their two teen-aged sons, Beavis and Butthead.