Monday, 15 December 2014

Strictly Star of the Future?

My guest today is Wendy Clarke. Wendy is a full time writer of women's fiction. Her work regularly appears in national women's magazines such as The People's Friend, Take a Break Fiction Feast and Woman's Weekly. She has also written serials and a number of non-fiction magazine articles.

Wendy lives with her husband, cat and step-dog in Sussex and when not writing is usually dancing, singing or watching any programme that involves food!

Room in Your Heart is Wendy's first collection of short stories.

I set out to find out more.

I am aware you haven’t always been a writer. What did you do before and why did you choose to change careers?

I’d like to say I was one of those writers who was born with a pen in their hand but it wouldn’t be true. I always loved English Language at school but thought that studying it at university sounded a lot like hard work so did psychology instead. After that, I drifted into teaching. When my children were born I was a stay at home mother for a while before working as education officer at The Sussex Wildlife Trust. I eventually returned to teaching – this time as English teacher in a private primary school. When the school sadly closed in 2011, due to the recession, I decided to do an online creative writing course while thinking about my future. I loved it, despite having not written any fiction for over thirty years - and the rest, as they say, is history!

Your prolific output, and indeed your success, as a short story writer is well known. How do you maintain such a level?

I’m lucky in that writing is my only ‘job’ so that helps. Having said that, I still only write part-time - fitting it in around other things such as my choir, walking the dog and seeing my grandchildren. I try to write at least one story week and am very lucky to have a very good relationship with The People’s Friend who publish a lot of them.

It was a real pleasure to meet you at the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) Winter Party a few weeks ago. Does this mean you’ll be turning your hand to novel writing?

I’m trying – honestly! I have three chapters of a novel written but I’m aware I’ve been saying that for rather a long time now. I just seem to keep writing more short stories and serials... I just can’t help myself! The plan is to try to get onto the RNA New Writers’ Scheme in January and that, hopefully, will spur me on.

Can you tell us about your working day?

That’s a little difficult as each day is different. What I’ll do is tell you what I did today. Firstly (while still in bed) I checked Facebook and Twitter and posted/tweeted new items and left comments etc. Then I looked at my blog to see if there were any comments I needed to reply to. After that, I got up and went Christmas shopping. Once home, I walked the dog then wrote 1000 words of a short story before stopping for lunch. In the afternoon, I wrote another 1000 words then, around five, I went back to checking social media again. This was a productive day but they’re not all like that.

Where is your favourite place to write – and why?

I am a writing nomad! I usually start off in the living room as it’s south facing and the move around the house as the mood takes me. In the summer I like writing in the conservatory but it’s a bit cold now that it’s winter.

You’ve recently had an anthology published of some of your short stories, Room in Your Heart. How did you choose which to include?

I decided that I wanted Room in Your Heart to be a collection of romance stories and thought I’d use ones previously published in The People’s Friend. I read them all and then chose my favourite stories for the start, end and middle of the collection. The rest were selected to mix light stories with more emotional ones, male and female viewpoints, first and third person and past and present tense. Hopefully, the finished collection is a well-balanced one.

If you could choose anyone to invite to a dinner party, who would your guests be?

My friends would laugh if they saw this question and say ‘nobody’ as they know I don’t like dinner parties but if I had to then I’d say Strictly star Kevin from Grimsby – so that he could dance with me between courses! David Nicholls – so he could tell me how he writes such wonderfully funny books and Dame Judi Dench – just because she seems so lovely (well, she was when I met her in a garden centre!)

And while you’re not busy writing and entertaining, what do you do to relax?

Oh, that’s easy... I dance! I’ve been dancing modern jive for around twenty years and salsa for over ten. Five years ago, my husband and I took up ballroom and Latin and try to dance twice a week – there’s nothing like dancing for forgetting everyday problems. I also belong to a choir and a very friendly, informal badminton club and I mustn’t forget walking my dog Bonnie, that’s when I do my thinking.

What’s next for Wendy Clarke?

More of the same probably. I like writing short stories too much to give them up but if I can write a novel alongside them then it would be the icing on the cake.

Thank you very much for having me on your blog Natalie; it was lovely of you to ask me.

It’s been a pleasure, Wendy.



  1. Thank you for having me as a guest on your lovely new blog, Natalie.

  2. I didn't know it could be such fun, Wendy! I so enjoyed your answers. I'm looking forward to having lots more lovely people join me here

  3. A wonderful interview, Natalie. I have a lot of admiration for Wendy and love reading her stories. I downloaded Room in Your Heart as soon as it was available and revisit many of the stories regularly. Wendy's writing style drags you into the lives and places within each story and leaves the reader feeling warm and satisfied. I am looking forward to her next compilation. Thank you both for the post. All the best.

    1. Thank you for your very kind words, Nicola - so glad you like my collection.

  4. Thank you for joining us, Nicola. It's so nice (and helpful) to get other people's perspective on things.

  5. Great interview, I am another one hoping Wendy can get that novel written!

    1. Wendy is the gift that just keeps on giving, Kath. It's not a case of finding questions to ask but more of deciding which to leave out.