Author Q&A: Claudia Rowe

This weeks post features another author Q&A, this time with author of the Spider and the Fly, Claudia Rowe.

I reached out to Claudia after reading her book the spider and the fly, a non-fiction book which I thoroughly enjoyed! ( I have written a previous port on it, check it out here!) . Claudia kindly answered some questions for myself and this blog and I hope you will like to read the answers as much as I did!

1. What made you want to become a writer, primarily non-fiction?

As a kid, books truly were my friends. Very often my best friends. Novels kept me company when I was alone, made me feel safe when I was frightened. I remember my grandmother looking over a book report I’d written in the 3rd grade and announcing, “You will be a writer.” It stuck in my head. But I didn’t consider nonfiction until college. I’d been piddling around, torturing myself over short stories, until I took a class in Writing the Personal Essay. It was a revelation. Suddenly, my work had an energy to it, a pulse. After that, the die was cast. I was going to make my living as a writer, and true stories were the way.

2. When having conversations with Kendall was it always the plan to write a book, and in a memoir/true crime genre?

I knew I wanted to write a book that stemmed from the place where I was living, a small city in upstate New York, and there were aspects of Kendall Francois’s story that mirrored themes I wanted to explore – particularly denial. That part was clear from the start. But only after we began talking did I realize how much my own past was part of our dynamic. I wanted to be honest about this with readers, so I needed to explain what had brought me to a place in life where I was corresponding with a murderer. Hence, the memoir.

3. I felt this book was more about the relationship between yourself and Kendall and the concept of human behaviour, was it always the intention to focus on this rather than the actual crimes?

My intention was to try and understand Kendall Francois as a person, not some sort of nightmare creature. I’d spent many years reading about crime, and at a certain point it felt like there wasn’t a great deal more to be gained from depicting yet another gruesome act – just, why? But I had not read much nonfiction that explored the humanity embedded within these stories. Novels, of course, have tackled this terrain extensively. But nonfiction, not as much, which is understandable. It brings you to some rather dark places.

4. What was your process for writing this book like, was it a book that took a while to write?

It took an insanely long time – 18 years from the moment I started to when it was published – with a long break in the middle. I began reporting this story as traditional journalism, or true crime if you like. But after five years, it became increasingly clear that there was something running underneath – the chess match between Francois and me – that I needed to explore. At the time, I just wasn’t equipped to sit with that kind of material, let alone write about it. So I stepped away. I told myself the book was too hard, and I tried to move on with my life. But I never put away my notes. For eight years, they sat in boxes, stacked around my desk – until one night I absentmindedly began flipping through an old draft. And here we are.

5. When you first started writing this book, did you have a goal for it?

My original goal was a book that would answer the question we all have: how does a person become someone who does things like this?

6. After writing this book do you have a different outlook on crime and the meaning of the word evil?

Yes. I believe most of what we label “evil” can be more accurately understood as evidence of mental illness. Is hatred a sign of mental illness? Maybe not. But sadism is.

7. Do you plan to write any more books, potentially a fiction novel?

Right after The Spider and the Fly, I published an e-book called Time Out that looks at the true case of a 13-year-old who was sentenced to 23 years in prison. And I’m at work on a new book now, also nonfiction, about foster care. But I do have a novel percolating. It’s about friendship and betrayal, and what happens to a tight group of girls as they grow up.

8. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers and authors?

Ignore the disapproval of others. Read everything. Know that writing is work, often exhausting and sometimes humiliating. And if you think you’re a genius, you’re probably wrong.

9. Is there anything else you would like to share on ‘The Spider and the Fly’?

I am grateful to every person who reads this book and sits with the thoughts it brings up. Thank you for these excellent questions.

I again would love to thank Claudia for answering these questions, it is much appreciated!

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(ps please feel free to like, comment and share )

What puts me off a book

When browsing in store or online there is always that book that you pick up but immediately out back. These are my reasons :

  1. I tend to put books back if the are set far in the past unless it has an amazing story. There is something about books set hundreds of years ago that I just don’t really enjoy .
  2. When the book cover is a film poster. It always puts me off as therefore I imagine the characters as the actors
  3. When the font is hard to read. If I can’t read the title then I probably won’t buy it.
  4. If the cover features a person’s face because as I said before I quite like to imagine what the character looks like using the descriptions myself
  5. If the summary doesn’t interest me (an obvious one)

Many thanks, Caitlin X

(PS please comment why you wouldn’t pick up a book)

Why do I blog?

I started to blog purely because I wanted to share my love for books and that still stays the same.

I love sharing what I have read and my opinions on them. Hopefully my words could inspire others to take up reading or read a certain book.

I love to read book blogs and it inspires me to not only wrote but to explore new genres and authors.

I currently blog twice a week but in June I will probable be making it once a week. I often struggle to think of the second post of the week as it is only two days later and I likely haven’t finished another book .

I love to write blog posts and I don’t get hung up on the number of views and reads.

If I was to say anything it would be that. Don’t look at the numbers and worry about them. Write for yourself. If only one person reads it then that’s good. If no one does it’s fine it allows you to express yourself.

Many thanks, Caitlin X

(PS please comment if you have a blog or would like to have one )

My opinion of non-fiction books

Personally I don’t read much non-fiction but that doesn’t mean I don’t like it.

Source: Book Riot

Non-fiction as a genre is huge and has many variety of types. For example, autobiography, encyclopedia, teaching and learning material etc. The list goes on.

I like to read non fiction however unless it is one I really want to read, I often don’t enjoy it as much as a fictional book.

I like autobiographies as they give you an insight into another life, let’s you see what the life of a celebrity is. I particularly enjoyed reading Amy Poehler book as it was honest and blunt. I also really want to read Jenna Fischer Book: the acting life. I am a fan of her as an actor and intrigues to see what she says about her profession.

Non fiction is also a great way to teach and learn whether that be in a class environment or as a passtime at home.

I really should read more non-fiction!

Many thanks, Caitlin X

(Ps please comment your opinion of non fiction or you favourite non fiction book!?

Long or short books?

When it comes to books the length often is a deal breaker on whether to buy it.

Personally I prefer shorter books so that I can read it in a shorter period of time and have the chance to read another. I feel that when I read a longer one I tend to lose interest at some point.

If I were to read a longer book it would have to have shorter chapters or sections. I find this helps to motivate me to read as I can set myself goals.

Some people however much prefer to read longer books as there can be more depth or subplots. It may take more time to explore a character or storyline. You can also feel more invested in the book if you are reading it for longer.

It is a completely personal thing and you can discuss your opinion in the comments !

Many thanks Caitlin X

(PS please feel free to comment your opinion)

The Title of a Book

The title of the book is one of the very first things you look at when you pick one up so therefore it is important for it to be a good one!

Here’s a few tips to a great title!

  • It has to fit with the story and give an essence of what the book is about. It has to show the essence of the book so that reader’s will know what they are buying and whether they will want to buy it.
  • It has to attract reader’s. It has to be able to make someone want to pick it up and read it.
  • Concise. It can often help to have a shorter title as they are quick and easy to read/find.
  • Highlight a part of the story. Often you don’t understand the title until you have finished the book.
  • It can also help to have it link with the image and have that on mind when choosing it. What will it look like on the page

Hope this helps!

Many thanks, Caitlin X

(PS please feel free to comment your hint and tips for writing a title)

Short Stories

If you want to get into reading more but the prospect of reading a 200+ page novel scares you don’t worry! There are plenty of great short stories to keep you entertained with less commitment.

Short stories are a great way to start reading or re-introduce yourself into reading. You are not committed to a huge novel that may take a while to read but you are still able to enjoy something that an author has written. it can bring you back into enjoying reading as you feel the accomplishment of finishing something.

Often in schools, you look at short stories and analyse them. this is often a good way to get to grips with the idea of short stories and understand that although they may have less words they are still as entertaining. When I was in school, we looked at a short story called ‘The Flowers’ by Alice Walker. It is a powerful story and showed me that I could be interested and moved by a story that is a mere single side of an A4 page.

It is also a great way to explore new genres. If you are not sure you would like a certain genre but want to try its a great option. A short story is an introduction to a type of book and author and can often allow you to see if it is something you would enjoy before picking up a novel.

Overall, I would say that you should always give short stories a try as they can be just as powerful as novels but condensed. There is often not as much characterisation or depth but can still be incredibly powerful. If you are looking to explore new genres or want to get back into reading give short stories a try!

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please comment any short stories you have read and loved)

Bookish Apps

The majority of people have a smart phone or tablet that has the capacity to download apps and there are many book related and reading apps that would be perfect for the avid reader. They can come in many forms for example, an e-reader or an app that keeps track of the books you read. Here are a few that you may be interested in;

READING APPS:

When it comes to reading apps they are essentially e-readers on your phone/tablet. This is ideal for those who like to read throughout the day and like to keep all thier books on one device without having to buy a seperate e-reader. This can be cheaper as you can get published books at a better price without having to bu a seperate device. There are also loads of apps that share stories and books from individuals that are not published. Examples of reading apps are as follows;

  • Apple/Google Play books
  • Kindle
  • Aldiko
  • Wattpad
  • WordPress
  • FBReader

And much more!

AUDIOBOOK APPS

Audiobooks are a hugely popular way to read on the go. Whether your on your way to school/work or travelling. You can listen to a book and experience it through sound rather than physically having to have that book with you and reading it. You can listen to audiobooks whils you are doing something else such as painting, gardening or anything really! Some example of audio book apps are as follows;

  • Audible
  • Google Play books
  • LibriVox
  • Kobo
  • Kindle
  • Audiobooks.com

OTHER:

There are a huge variety of book apps that can be anywhere from shops, to review sites to blogs. a few examples of some I like are as follows;

  • GoodReads
  • Waterstones (Bookshop)
  • Litsy (Share and discover new books, create an online library to keep track of what you read.)
  • Snaptell
  • Scribd (like Netflix for books)
  • InstantPoetry

These are just a few of the many different apps you can get on your app store so take the time to explore and see what fits best for what you want/need.

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please comment your favourite book apps or if you have anything different to the ones above)

Book Clubs

Books clubs are often easy to join and can allow you to share your passion for books with like-minded people.

Not only can you share your passion but you can experience reading and discussing books with new people. You can be pushed into reading out of your comfort zone.

One benefit of joining a book club is that it gives your deadlines to meet and ensures that you finish the book instead of moving onto the next. It helps you to stay in time and on track to make sure you are making the most progress possible.

It can also allow you to see new perspective on things. If you ask a group of people about one aspect of a book more likely than not you will get a lot of different answers. People look and interpret information differently and you can explore and deepen your view with the help of others.

You can meet new people and can become apart of a community. You can create relationships that stem from a love of books and you can learn how to have good discussions.

I would highly recommend joining a book group and would love to hear of you are a part of one.

Many thanks, Caitlin X

(PS please feel free to comment )

Rapid Fire Book Tag

  • Ebook or Physical Book?

I would have to say physical book. There is something much more satisfying about seeing your progress and finishing a physical book.

  • Paperback or hardback?

Paperback. It easier to carry with you and cheaper!

  • Online or in store book shopping?

In store for sure. To physically browse and flick through books is much more enjoyable. To be able to be surrounded by books and the smell of new books is so much better.

  • Trilogies or series?

Either to be honest. If I had to choose I would say a series. More time to develop the characters and the plot.

  • Hero’s or villains?

Hero’s. considering I love to read police procedural and spy books I would have to say heroes. In these books the heroes are not like superman or batman but real people doing their bit for example detectives or doctors.

  • A book you want every one to read

The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby. It’s a very inspirational and powerful read!

  • Recommend an underrated author

Jessi Kirby, Kayla Olsen, Claire Askew, Helen fields, Mick Herron… so many.

  • The last book I finished

All the Hidden Truths by Claire Askew

  • Used book: yes or no?

Yes of course. At least I new someone had read and loved it before me. A way to recycle books that are no longer wanted.

  • Borrow or buy?

I tend to buy my books because I like to own them and have them on my bookshelf but I am not adverse to borrowing!

  • Character or plot?

If you have read my blogs before you will know that a vital part of a book for me is characters. If the characters are not well deserved or realistic for the book then I often don’t like it as much.

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(Ps please feel free to comment your answers)