Claire Coffey of Burning Soul Press On The 5 Things You Need To Be A Successful Author or Writer
An Interview With Kristin Marquet
Discipline & patience for working through a big project. Writing a book is a long-term project. There are days that are great, and days where you think you can’t put a sentence together to save your life. It’s important to stay the course and have your eye on the long game.
Some writers and authors have a knack for using language that can really move people. Some writers and authors have been able to influence millions with their words alone. What does it take to become an effective and successful author or writer?
In this interview series, called “5 Things You Need To Be A Successful Author or Writer” we are talking to successful authors and writers who can share lessons from their experience.
As part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Claire Coffey.
Claire Coffey is the Success Manager at Burning Soul Press, where she works with authors on publishing and marketing their books. She writes romance under the pen name Claire Ripley and is the author of the romantic suspense novel, The Art of Murder. She has been raiding her grandmother’s romance novels since she was a kid and never looked back. A seed was planted for writing, and she has loved creating stories ever since. Claire is a Southern girl at heart, making her home in the mid-Atlantic with her family.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I started writing The Art of Murder when I was at home with my toddler. I woke up in the middle of the night with an inkling of an idea. This was not the norm for me, to wake up with an idea to write a book. Luckily, I was smart enough to make a note of it in my phone before going back to sleep. That idea took hold, and I wrote the book in the “fringe hours” — early in the morning, while my daughter was at preschool and during naptime. Over the next two years, I crafted the book together and self-published.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
Writing does not have to be a solitary endeavor! My writing partner and I joined forces by happenstance; we both happened to mention that we enjoyed writing. We decided to become each other’s accountability partners. We checked in with one another for writing new words, for getting our butts in the chair for a writing session, and provided feedback when it was needed. Without the encouragement and accountability, I wouldn’t have made the progress I have made.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming a writer? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?
I would say overcoming self-doubt was a challenge that presented itself over and over — and still does! You have to ignore that voice inside your head that makes negative comments and questions what you’re doing. You can give roots to those negative thoughts, or you can trust the process and keep going. First drafts are never going to look good.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Oh my gosh, I had no idea about process when I first started writing my book. I would edit while I was in the first draft phase, and I got distracted with research when I should have made a note to come back to it and move on. The biggest mistake I made was when I completed my first draft, and I decided the POV wasn’t working for me. I switched from third person to first person, something that took a long time to change. I wish I had known that getting a first draft in place was paramount, then the editing process would have taken care of the things that I stopped to go over.
In your opinion, were you a “natural born writer” or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
I wanted to write since before I could write my own name. I remember being very young, truly excited to learn to write my own name and then later moved on to making up my own stories. As I got older, my best friend and I would spend our play time writing stories in notebooks. I was always coming up with characters or story ideas. I’ve always loved stories in general. While I love to write, school helped me to hone my craft.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m working on my next book. It is a love triangle set in a fictional, small Southern town. I’m hoping to have it out by the end of the year. The love triangle trope can provoke strong feelings in readers! I’ve had fun spending time with my characters. My goal is for the reader to root for all the characters, and a love triangle is a fun trope to play with those characters’ motivations.
Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Be A Successful Author or Writer”? Please share a story or example for each.
- Read constantly. I think reading is important both to study your craft, but also to draw inspiration for your own writing.
- Write daily. Writing begets writing. When I’m out of practice and not showing up daily, the words don’t come as easily. When I am focused and writing daily, my book stays in my head. I’m spending time with my characters and that writing muscle stays strong. Getting my butt in the chair to show up for myself was important to making progress.
- Discipline & patience for working through a big project. Writing a book is a long-term project. There are days that are great, and days where you think you can’t put a sentence together to save your life. It’s important to stay the course and have your eye on the long game.
- Attention to detail. For me, when writing a novel, there are so many details to keep up with. I make lots of notes for keeping up with them because in the end you are fitting lots of pieces of the puzzle together.
- Focus. Turning off your distractions for writing is key! There’s always going to be the lure of your phone, social media notifications, that load of laundry and dishes in the sink calling your name. But when it’s your writing time, guard that time!
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study). Can you share a story or example?
Craft study. I’ve read many romance novels, both for enjoyment and for studying craft. While it can be formulaic, I love to see what other authors are doing with that formula and fitting those puzzle pieces together. It’s said to write the book you want to read, and I drew on that inspiration for what I found myself looking for in a book.
Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?
I read widely, but I’ll always have a soft spot for romance. Romance never gets old, and I’m forever studying romance novels. Pride & Prejudice is my all-time favorite book. Jane Austen’s dry wit and her commentary on social class; she was clever at hiding details. I get something new out of it every time I re-read. She’s still relevant 200 years later — it’s not “just” a romance.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Reading. The power of a book can change a life. Literacy is the gateway to knowledge and is so important to succeeding in life. Literacy and education reduce inequality across gender, race, nationality, and religious groups. As adults, reading helps you understand someone else’s experience; it helps you become a better person and teaches you something you didn’t know.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!