“Lifting each other, promoting one another, that’s where the true authenticity appears as queer authors” 📚
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS. IMAGE CLAIRE HIGHTON-STEVENSON.
Claire Highton-Stevenson is a contemporary romance writer – and one with a penchant for lesfic, at that. When she’s not writing she can be found lurking on social media, watching football and spending time with friends, family and her four fur babies.
Here, we caught up with Claire to hear all about her latest lesfic offering…
DIVA: Can you remember what the first book you ever read was?
CLAIRE HIGHTON-STEVENSON: I’m not sure if it was the first book, but it’s certainly the one that’s stuck with me throughout my life – Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl. So much so that I even have him tattooed on my right shoulder!
How did you get into writing – what inspires you?
It was totally by accident. I started to read fanfic – I’m a big Rizzoli & Isles fan – and the itch to write began. I never felt as though I could do justice to somebody else’s characters, so I created my own. They stayed in my head for quite a while until I broke my leg in a freak accident and had some time on my hands. Suddenly, Cam Thomas came to life! My good friend, fellow author and Rizzles fan Michelle Arnold, asked to read it. She liked it and instantly became my editor.
Tell us about your new book, In Dyer Need?
Ren Dyer is at the pinnacle of her career. Newly appointed as head of the protection team for Home Secretary, Andrea Fielding. When the worst happens and the world changes dramatically around them, will Andrea finally see what’s been right in front of her all along? On the road, together with a group of people that includes Andrea’s ex, Dutch Foreign Minister Marja Stegenga, they must try to reach the safety of HQ at the other end of the country. For Ren Dyer, it is simple: keep Andrea safe. For Andrea Fielding, it’s anything but…
Your book The Promise is being released as an audiobook, what’s your favourite thing about the medium?
I just love the versatility of audio. I used to drive to and from work – two hours each way – and so listening to these characters being brought to life, with all the emotions and feelings that the author put into them, it’s quite something. Now, I listen to them in the gym, in the car, even on holiday sunning by the pool.
What is the publishing industry like for queer women’s literature?
Small. It’s a pretty niche area and I’m not sure many of the big publishing houses want to take us on. There are a few smaller lesfic-based publishers around, but really with the way that KDP and Amazon are working, being independent like I am is so much easier now.
Do you put your own experiences into your work?
I have added in a few character traits that I feel most comfortable with. I’ve been cheated on, so I know the feelings that brings up. I’ve lost both of my parents so I understand grief and the way that that can take hold. I’ve been in love, smitten, flirty, so in that sense, yes there are elements of my own experiences in there. There has to be, I’m not sure how we avoid it. But I wouldn’t say any of my characters are like me as a whole.
Is there a strong queer community within the writing world?
Absolutely! I’m an independent author, but I’m not a lone wolf. Lifting each other, promoting one another, that’s where the true authenticity appears as women-loving-women. When I first arrived on the scene, I assumed nobody would speak to me at events, they’d all be looking down their noses at me. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Authors like A. E. Radley, Emma Sterner-Radley, Lise Gold, and as I said earlier, Michelle Arnold have all been so supportive. It’s been a blast getting to know them.
Are there any queer literary events you’d recommend?
Yes! This is something I am very passionate about. We don’t have enough of them. In the States there are quite a few but here, not so much… So we (my fellow lesfic authors and I) are changing that!
This May we had the first South Coast Lesfic Hangout (SCLHO) in Crawley. It was free to readers. We had some of the top UK Lesfic names there and it was great fun, and will be happening again next May. But in the meantime, the Weston-Super-Lesfic is happening on 16 November 2019.
In Dyer Need is out October 2019. To read more of Claire’s work, click here.
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