Interview with Joanne McClean
Joanne describes herself as a cynic, hopeless romantic, eccentric, daydreamer, nerd, music lover, movie-goer, loner, coffee addict, bookworm and writer.
What is life if you don't have a dream to chase?
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the small town of Armagh in Northern Ireland. When I was younger, there wasn't a lot to do and you had to make your own fun. Then there was the fact that the estate I grew up in didn't have a lot of other children that I could socialize with. Hence why I became interested in books.
There is just something magical about books. They could transport me from my bedroom into a completely different world where anything could happen.
I became interested in writing in my early teens but didn't take it seriously until I finished school.
My first novel came to me on a bus journey home and since then I was hooked.
It provided me with something to do. After I had finished school, I lost my part-time job when Woolworths closed. So I had a lot of free time to get creative and that is where my debut novel was born.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing stories when I was about nine. I loved Creative Writing when I was younger and used to amuse my teachers with my stories.
When I got older, my writing took a back seat. It wasn't until I was 15 and took up English Lit. to study that I found my love of writing again.
It was then, three years later, that I went on to write The Secret Life of Jamie Sykes and I haven't looked back since.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I actually discovered it by accident. When I completed my first novel, I was only 19 and didn't know what to do with it. I researched publishing and was disappointed to find that you needed a lot of money to get an agent and send out copies of your book. It all seemed like too much hassle just to probably end up on the rejection pile.
Anyway, I kept writing and the stories just sat hidden on my laptop for nearly two years.
It wasn't until I got a Kindle for my 21st birthday that everything changed.
I had seen a tab listed about 'Kindle Digital Text Platform' and was intrigued. So a bit of research later and I discovered that I could self-publish. It was free and I thought 'why not?'
I uploaded my first novel and it went live on December 2010.
Soon after that I discovered smashwords.com and the rest just followed.
I just loved that I could publish my book my way and could control the pricing since I knew how expensive some books were.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Just losing myself in a different world. Dreaming up a story and falling in love with the characters I create.
And then finally completing that story and unleashing it onto the world!
Who are your favorite authors?
Way too many! I like to read a mix.
I read indie and well-known authors.
Some off the top of my head are:
J.K. Rowling, Nicholas Sparks, Sophie Kinsella, Meg Cabot, Louise Bagshawe, Ali McNamara, Miranda Dickson, Milda Harris, Kelly Oram, Lynda Renham, L.J. Smith, Janet Evanovich, T.J. Dell, Harriet Evans, Cecelia Ahern, Jodi Picoult, Stephen King, Shakespeare, Jane Austen and loads more!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Ha, what a question. Well, as a part-time author, I have a full-time job so getting out of bed to go to work is a little hard in the mornings! ;)
Anyway, I guess I'm inspired by the unknown. I don't know when or where another idea is going to hit me. Many of my ideas have been inspired by the simplest of things. I often dwell on the plots of my stories in work (shhh don't tell!) and sort out what I'm going to work on that night. Then there's the fact that I know my laptop is waiting for me when I get home and as soon as I touch that keyboard, the words just flow.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, vaguely. I was about eight and had to write a story for my English class. We all had to pick out certain words out of a hat to include in the story. I remember that it involved a missing watch, a metal detector and a boy called Andrew.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Harry Potter Series (I'll count that as one!) - I just fell in love with J.K. Rowling's world. Everything was just ... magical. I loved the mixture of adventure, friendship and the good and evil in life.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory —I just loved Roald Dahl's work and this was a childhood favorite that I read loads of times.
Vicky Angel by Jacqueline Wilson —I cried so much reading this. I was young and found the story beautiful and heartbreaking.
A Walk to Remember — I adore Nicholas Sparks but this was the first book of his that I read. It was heartbreaking but also inspiring.
And finally, it's a tie between Cecelia Ahern's Where Rainbows End — because it was just too cute and an interesting style of telling the story -
and Ali McNamara's From Notting Hill With Love Actually — because I'm just so obsessed with movies and like to live in a little fantasy land most of the time ... hence why I write! ;)
What do you read for pleasure?
Loads of genres: horror, thriller, chick lit, young adult, fantasy. I just love reading anything!
Describe your desk
Cluttered. Ha ha!
No, seriously, it's covered in notes, notebooks filled with ideas, a dictionary, a thesaurus, photos of family and friends and an inspiring plaque quoting 'Follow your dreams, they're worth the chase'. (just to inspire me to keep going!)
What's the story behind your latest book?
I'm working on several so I'll pick one. It's called Letters from Charlie and is told in letters, emails, voicemails etc. It's about how two pen pals become friends over the years and the possibility that it could turn into something more.
What do your fans mean to you?
Without my fans, I wouldn't be here. I would have given up a long time ago. They inspire me to keep going and I just want to thank each and every one of them for taking a chance on my books. I just love creating different worlds for them to fall into.
What are you working on next?
Way too many projects! I seriously have 10 or so projects just sitting there to work on. I just need to find the time to work on them!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Going to the cinema, watching movies and various TV shows. Hanging out with my family and friends. Listening — no obsessing! — over music! And of course, reading!
What is your writing process?
It differs. Sometimes I get a lot of writing done and sometimes I barely write a sentence. At the minute, I'm working on several stories at the same time. I find if I work on one story for too long, I get stuck. That's why I move onto whichever story I've been thinking about that day. Then I switch back and forth depending on my mood.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Well, apart from the kid's books we had to read for school (I can't remember the name of any of them) I think the first book I read was Roald Dahl's 'The BFG'. I remember just falling in love with the characters and being transported to a different world. I then devoured the rest of his books and then moved on to Jacqueline Wilson and then J.K. Rowling. That's when I really fell in love with books.
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