I’m really chuffed to welcome C H Cleppit to the blog today, to answer my nosy questions and talk about her new release, Eye of the Beholder!
Take it away, Claire!
1. First, tell us why you are doing this interview?
I like to get about a bit. Also, I’ve recently started a new series of queer fairy tale retellings which I’m calling my “Magic Mirror Collection” and I’d also like to shamelessly plug the first one of those. It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I have set it in 1930s France and fixed all the problematic bits. If you like slow burn lesbians (not actual fire, slow burn is what they call it if they don’t jump each other right off the bat, apparently) with magic and acceptance, give it a go and see what you think.
2. What started you writing?
I’ve always written. Even when I was tiny I used to record stories on cassette tapes! I don’t know what happened to those, which is probably for the best.
3. Where do you write?
For drafting I write wherever is comfortable. I have an app on my phone that allows me to write on the move, too, so wherever inspiration hits, I can get it down. Once I’m editing/formatting I have a grown up desk.
4. What do you like to read?
I like to read anything where the characters are well developed enough to be plausible and the pace is decent. If you describe a woman by how she feels about her own breasts, or spend three pages on what a wall looks like, you’ve lost me as a reader.
5. What are the three books you’d take to a desert island? Why would you choose them?
Hmm. Good question. I do comfort reread things sometimes, so if we’re talking about that, maybe His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman, The Night Watch by Sarah Waters and the complete Sherlock Holmes. I like them because they are totally immersive, and you can really see the worlds within them. But I think if I was going to be on a desert island I’d like to take something I haven’t read yet so I’d have something to look forward to.
6. Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?
Nah. I’m not a huge fan of humans! That’s not true, I am in a couple of online groups that discuss writing and marketing, but they aren’t hugely active. If anyone has any recommendations for groups they enjoy that aren’t all spammy or dead on the inside then give me a shout. Bonus points if they focus on Lesfic.
7. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Quarantine has pretty much limited me to binge watching, sketching and LOTS of home decorating. I have basically turned my kitchen into a comic book… But before that when I was passing for human I would love going to the gym, meeting friends for food and cinema and playing netball.
8. Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?
Eye of the Beholder is a queer retelling of Beauty and the Beast (with lesbians). It took me much longer to write than it should have done because lockdown threw my brain into a terrible unproductive spiral of not focusing on anything but Twitter, which was super healthy… I am proud I managed to finish and launch it in spite of myself, though. I enjoyed being able to turn a fairy tale around and remove problematic elements and make a story of mutual respect, love and support and I’m glad it’s been so well received. The only thing I hated was how hard I found it to focus and get it done.
When pressure from his materialistic children turns Claude into a thief, it is down to his youngest daughter to set things right. Angelique agrees to take her father’s place as prisoner to what she is told is a hideous beast.
Angelique soon discovers that the so called beast is nothing more than Rosalie, a princess cursed to remain trapped in a castle, unless the curse can be broken, something she assures her is impossible.
Angelique does not believe in the impossible, and sets about trying to find a way to save her new friend, who she is rapidly growing to love.
Eye of the Beholder is the first in a series of queer fairy tale retellings in C H Clepitt’s Magic Mirror Collection.