I first heard Hope speak at the Missouri Writer’s Guild conference a few years ago. I loved the fact that she always smiled, and consistently wove positivity in her talks.
When I discovered Hope and I were featured authors at a booksigning at Columbia, South Carolina’s Irmo Branch Library in March, I suggested our husbands meet over dinner the evening prior to the event.
After three hours of lively conversation on writing, vacations, dogs, and various topics, we almost closed down the restaurant. Looking around at nearby tables, we didn’t recognize any of the original patrons when first seated. We decided to leave the waitress a NICE tip.
Hope graciously accepted my invitation to do “An Author Spotlight” Q&A. So without, further ado, I give you C. Hope Clark!
Q: When did you realize you wanted to write for a living? And do you prefer speaking engagements to writing?
Funny, but I can recall making the mental shift from working for a living to the concept of writing for one when I had lunch with a co-worker and he asked why I did not write for me. My work was routinely craved by management when I worked for the Federal government, and I entered my boss’s office many a time to ask “how do you want to spin this?” Should’ve known I wrote fiction all the way back then. But after three years of playing at it part-time, I realized that writing was what I wanted to do, with a passion I’d never had for anything else, so I took an early retirement at age 46 and never looked back. I’m a strong advocate of moving forward and never looking back.
I prefer writing, without a doubt. However, it’s the speaking that gives me that medicinal vitamin shot in the arm, making me see clearly why I write. I adore speaking to fans, audience and students alike, and their thrill and passion seep into me all over again such that I go home rejuvenated to write again. We have to go out and touch the world to understand how it all works.
Q: What compels you to write about the rural Carolinas, mystery, and weaving an agricultural bent into your books?
My degree is in agriculture. My grandfather was a cotton farmer, and I adored my summers on the farm. I love to garden and can’t stand urban for very long. Nature nurtures me. That and I wanted the world to see more of SC than Charleston, Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach. We are strong people with deep roots and a desire to preserve what is ours, the good and the bad. We don’t write off history, we learn from it, and I want Carolina Slade to be a representative of this state. And of course, what better way to do that than via a mystery that draws a reader into the setting, into the characters’ lives, to make them guess and solve a puzzle, and ultimately realize that the setting was as much as part of the story as the protagonist and the clues. These books are my way of expressing love for where I live, and for its people.
Q: What do you want readers take away from your books?
A strong sense of place. A wish to be like the protagonist, or at least have enjoyed walking in her shoes. An appreciation for people and understanding that some people are worth fighting for regardless what rules have to be broken. Honor is everything.
Q: What advice do you have for new writers?
Write daily. Read daily. I know it sounds oversimplified, but it’s a practice few new writers are willing to follow, and without this ingrained habit, the writing doesn’t happen.
Q: And finally, I’ve asked this question before of authors –
As Anne Lamott once said in “bird by bird’, it is important to have a moral position no matter what you do in life. What is your moral position?
Honesty. I believe in people until they prove me wrong.
C. Hope Clark expresses her love of her South through her Carolina Slade Mysteries and The Edisto Island Mysteries. Her next Edisto book, Edisto Jinx, is due out fall 2015, with the sequel Echoes of Edisto due out summer 2016. Hope speaks nationally to book clubs, conferences and writers groups, and also serves as editor of the writer’s resource FundsforWriters.com, selected on Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 15 years. She lives on the bank of Lake Murray in central SC when she isn’t strolling secluded Edisto Beach. www.chopeclark.com