Interview: Ericka Clay, Author
Name: Ericka Clay
Newest Release: Too Human
Interview conducted by A.L. Mabry
Ericka Clay is a published novelist and the author of Unkept and Dear Hearts. She graduated from the University of Arkansas creative writing program, has published a book of short stories and poetry and is in the process of writing her fourth novel, Runners.
Ericka has been awarded a number of times by Writers Digest for various short fiction pieces, she has written four novels (one of which placed as a quarter-finalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest) and has had the privilege of sharing her craft, teaching writing classes and holding writers workshops in the South Texas area.
She currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her husband, daughter, two dogs and an insatiable need to push buttons, both figuratively and literally.
All proceeds from Ericka’s books go to various charitable organizations. Please visit her site to learn more.
What was the very first thing you ever wrote?
The first thing I ever wrote, I mean REALLY wrote, was a poetry compilation that was assigned as a sixth grade project. I don’t remember the name of it, but I do remember everyone groaning when our teacher announced the assignment while I started to tap dance my excitement on the top of my desk.
My grandmother probably has it framed somewhere so we should probably ask her.
Do you have any strange or interesting writing habits?
I have to get the set up right if I want to create anything worth reading: first I pee (nobody can think on a full bladder) and then I make a cup of green tea with two scoops of chia seeds and take one caffeine pill, then I turn on classical music, I write, write, write and then I either make a cup of espresso or black tea. Then I start seeing pink elephants.
Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
I don’t think I’ve ever had a difficult situation that I’ve had to get out of. People often mistake me for a twelve-year-old child, so when I excuse myself, they’re pretty much under the assumption that I have to use the bathroom or go find my mommy.
Are you involved with any writing groups or websites?
I created tipsylit.com, which is essentially an online writing community that features the work of a talented group of poets and short story writers. I’m also a big fan of Wattpad. I used to attend a writers workshop and even led a few of my own in the past, but now I spend my time asking my child to refrain from writing on our walls.
Are you loyal to one genre or do you like to play the field?
I usually stick with contemporary/literary fiction for novels. But I also write poetry because I’ve come to find that I think and even talk in poems sometimes. It’s difficult making friends.
Do you spend a lot of time researching (plotter) or do you make things up as you go (punster)? I’m a punster for the first couple of chapters and then I start plotting. I have to “feel” the characters before I can start determining their fate. I feel like I should be wearing a scarf and glasses right now.
Do you (or do you plan to) write stand-alone stories or series? I’ve never written a series and don’t plan on it but admire people who do. It’s really the perfect way to capitalize on a story and keep your readers interested in your work.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on a novel called White Smoke that’s about a small town Arkansas family that starts crumbling when the husband, Mitch, has an affair with a local gay man. I wrote a version of one of the main characters, Wren, in that novel and decided to cut her from the book because her character just wasn’t right for the direction the novel was taking (funny how novels are more in control than us writers). But I love her character so much that I decided to simultaneously write a serialized novel about her on Wattpad. I then decided to add her version of the story to the original novel and turned it into the second half of the book.
This is why our laundry is never done.
If you could ask your main character one question, what would it be? “Do you think I’m pretty?” Okay, I’m just kidding. I have three main characters, so I’d probably ask Mitch why he feels he can’t be honest with the one person who’s been his savior his entire life, I’d ask Elena why she’s stayed in a relationship that isn’t working for her for so long, and I’d ask Wren if I could borrow her boots.
What do you think the secret to being a good writer is? I think it’s mainly about sacking the concept of “a good writer” and keeping at this whole crazy thing regardless of the self doubt. Your inner voice is what matters, not anything or anyone else. And what you have to do is start training that voice to encourage you, not make you feel guilty about not banging out enough words for today or maybe hitting a roadblock in your protagonist’s development. Knowing what you need as a writer and person at any given moment is so important, so if you need to take a break to release the demons in your head, then do that and don’t look back.
Who would play you in the story of your life?
Me. I have amazing cheekbones. Seriously though, I’d go with Anna Kendrick. Sometimes I get the two of us confused.
Thanks for taking time to answer our questions, Ericka. Good luck in your current and future endeavors.
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