Interview With Sophie Claire, Runner-Up in the WOW! Spring Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, November 28, 2023


I'm so glad to interview Sophie Claire, running up in the WOW! Spring Flash Fiction Contest. Make sure you read her story After the Storm then come on back.

First, here is more about Sophie:

Sophie Claire writes emotional stories set in England and in sunny Provence, where she spent her summers as a child.

Previously, she worked in marketing and proofreading academic papers, but now she’s delighted to spend her days dreaming up heartwarming contemporary romance stories set in beautiful places.

--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: Congratulations on winning runner up! You had great character development in your story What is your approach in creating such strong characters in fiction?

Sophie: Editing! That’s the key. We all strive to create strong and sympathetic characters (heroines especially), but I often have to edit my work several times to really draw this out. No one wants to read about someone who’s too sharp or jagged: characters also need warmth and motivations we can relate to. It’s only in revisiting the piece that I tease out these elements, so I write a rough first draft, then edit several times until it’s polished. 

WOW: Great technique! What surrounds you as you write?

Sophie: I’m lucky enough to have my own office, and I always have a mood board on the wall beside me for each book. It’s a collage of pictures and words cut out of magazines, and it helps me stay focused on the story, but also provides inspiration. I also use Pinterest, but there’s something about having it right there beside me that really sparks my imagination. I also have a clutter of printouts and notes on my desk: I’m a very messy writer, and it drives me mad, but it’s all essential, and woe betide anyone who moves even a sheet of paper!

WOW: I love you have visuals around you! I loved reading on your website that you love to help characters find their home. Is that something you've struggled with as well?

Sophie: I’m half French, half British, and, growing up, I lived in England but we used to visit my mother’s family in France regularly. I always felt very aware of the different attitudes and traditions within these two countries, and, as a child, I desperately wanted to fit in and belong. However, as an adult I embrace the unique perspective that my background gives me. I speak two languages, I cook French and British cuisine, and I hope my upbringing makes me more open-minded and gives me a better understanding of different attitudes. I love to write about characters struggling with the issue of belonging, and I strongly believe that we have to find peace within ourselves and our relationships before we can really ‘come home’.

WOW: That's amazing! You have some incredible publications under your belt! Why did you decide to write flash fiction?

WOW: I started writing flash fiction recently as warm-up exercises for my writing day. I belong to the Romantic Novelists’ Association and in their quarterly magazine (Romance Matters) they hold a flash fiction competition. I entered it and, when I won, I was so thrilled that it motivated me to write more short pieces. I’m a slow writer and finishing a novel can take me a year or more, so completing a short story in a morning is hugely satisfying. It’s also a great way of honing my writing skills: creating tension and plot development in such a short word count is not easy.

WOW: Finishing a short story is such a wonderful experience. What are you working on now that you can tell us about?

Sophie: I’m currently promoting my latest release, This Christmas in Paris, which was loosely inspired by the film You’ve Got Mail. I’m also writing another romance novel set partly in England and partly in the South of France at Christmas. I really enjoy writing festive novels, and this one is super cosy with a heroine who’s a carpenter. 

WOW: I have already added your book to my reading list! I love that movie! What advice do you have for writers who are struggling telling their stories?

Sophie: Relax! That’s what works for me, although it’s not always easy to do. So often we put pressure on ourselves, or let our inner critics have too much volume in our heads. I recommend writing short pieces if a longer project feels too daunting, and writing every day to keep those writing muscles working. I also swear by Julia Cameron’s morning pages. I use them as a warm-up to get into the zone, and if I’m stuck with the plot they often help untangle the knot. But the thing that helps me most is to read: it’s when I’m relaxed and absorbed in a story that ideas come to me. 

WOW: Great advice! Congratulations again and best of luck on your future successes.


Yvonne Osborne said...

Focused on a small, yet decisive moment in time, this short story has it all: the good guy, the bad guy (those reptilian eyes), friction and resolution. Nice job!

And....I enjoyed your interview, how important it is to surround yourself with visuals for inspiration while writing a story. I myself have taped up pictures of people around my desk. Those I envision as resembling the character alive in my head. Fun stuff! Good luck.

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