Indie Artist Q&A with Clarie Kinton

Q: Thanks for doing the Q&A with us Claire, you’ve written a book called “DEAD GAME “can you tell us a bit about the novel, what is it about, what does it mean to you?

 CLARIE: My debut novel Dead Game is a young adult fantasy written in memory of my cousin Charles who served in Iraq 2003.  Dead Game was shortlisted for the Brit Writers Awards 2010 and came 8th in the Multi Media Shorty Awards on Twitter, three places behind JK Rowling. 

The story follows Lance Corporal Archie Fletcher as his plane plummets into the Persian Gulf during the Second Gulf War, his St Christopher talisman stripped from his neck as well as his clothes from his body, but even his wild imagination could never have primed him for the adventure he must now undertake. Waking to find he is lost in a feral land called Transit locked somewhere between Heaven and Earth and unable to believe he is dead Archie’s existence is transformed with new allies, new enemies and an inconceivable motivation to survive his ordeal and succeed in his new mission to cross the bridge to the other side of life.  With guardian angels, a cursed centaur and mythical saints, Archie battles his way through Transit, discovering an underwater world of ancient secrets, brawling with wild lions, enraged charioteers and venomous plants. The Moon’s trickery endangering his sanity and a three headed dragon that never sleeps blocking his path, Dead Game is no easy feat. The fantasy will whisk you away to a parallel world confirming the knowing deep within us all that the adventure of life must go on.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about the Charity that this book goes out to help?

CLARIE : Dead Game supports our troops through Help for Heroes and SSAFA Forces Help.  There are so many amazing forces charities that I’d love to support but Help for Heroes seemed to umbrella most of them.  SSAFA Forces Help and the Army Benevolent Fund were a massive aid to my family in our time of anguish and I know they would still be there now for us if we ever needed them.  I may not condone or understand war but I sure as hell will support every single one of our troops who fights for us.

SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) has now been around for 125 years and they have made an unfailing commitment to the men and women of Britain´s Armed Forces, continually adapting to meet the changing needs of those who serve – those who used to serve and the families of both. You need only serve for one day to receive SSAFA’s support. SSAFA are there for our servicemen and women because they believe that their bravery, dedication and commitment, deserves a lifetime of support.

Just seeing on the news the amount of casualties, and coffins returning from Afghanistan was enough for me to want to support Help for Heroes. I have one friend who lost a leg in Bosnia and another friend who lost her husband in Afghanistan. I know doctors and nurses who have been detached to Afghanistan and seen things that no man or woman should ever see. I wear my wrist band and poppy with such pride not only in memory of those who have died serving but in support of those who live with their injuries. Help for Heroes care for our living heroes.

Q: What got you into writing?

CLARIE : I’ve been writing since I was a child and seem to have turned to it, as a comfort, throughout my life during times of trouble.  It’s how I express myself best. 

My inspiration to write Dead Game, as I’ve just said ignited following the tragic death of my cousin, who served in Iraq 2003 with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.  Stricken with grief and pregnant with my first child, I found writing my way of coping with my bereavement.  I also found comfort spending six years attending a spiritualist church where I developed as a medium and I now believe Charles is as much the author of Dead Game as I am. Three children later and after six years of living by an RAF camp with my husband Gareth, I forged close friendships with families whose young men risk – and all too often lose – their lives serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Witnessing at first hand the heartbreak of loss that conjures a multitude of emotions, particularly in children and young adults, spurred me on to complete Dead Game. For some young minds it is not enough to say ‘He’s gone to Heaven’, they need to know why, what happens next, how long will they be gone? Dead Game is my way of answering these poignant questions.  Uplifting all those who have ever loved and lost, Dead Game strives to put forward one answer to death and at the same time teaches us; we are what we think; love never dies and that the human soul continues eternally

 I don’t know about all writers but for myself writing Dead Game felt a bit like opening a vein.  I tore this story from my heart, with every word, every sub-plot and every twist.  My part in writing Dead Game and its concept was not easy; most things are easy to say, it’s what we’re unable to say that’s hard.  Writing Dead Game was an emotional and grueling fight at times but I was compelled and driven to write it.  I think Dead Game opens that door in our minds where an infinite amount of possibilities become viable as long as the reader has the imagination to improvise.

On the flipside the greatest thing about writing is the process of discovery.  It’s a tonic.  It’s almost like a time machine.  Writing some chapters of Dead Game felt like going back to a place where innocence reigned – it was bliss.  I got to the stage where I couldn’t wait for the children to go to sleep so I could find out what would happen next.  It was also a way for me to put straight so many different thoughts and ideas I had.  Seeing them in black and white really clarified certain things for me.

On a physical level, it’s one thing to get the story down onto paper as a rough draft; it’s another having to go through it with a fine comb and edit and polish it until it’s perfect.  To be truthful writing and even the polishing I would construe as relatively painless – I love writing, that’s what I do.  The hardest part is getting published, marketing and getting the story out there to readers, which is why it’s so wonderful when I get invited to do blog interviews as it’s another way to tell people I’m here.

Q:  Who was your favorite Author?

 CLAIRE: Gosh I don’t know if I have one – I read so many different genres, fact and fiction mainstream and independent, I just couldn’t say.

Q:  Now the hard questions are upon us, so to speak, with the internet era upon us. Do you feel, like such Publishers have been very open about, that the internet/self-published writers ruin the market or hurt the art?

CLAIRE: Hmmm…. You’re not wrong!  The hard questions are coming out ;0)

There is a saying that ‘everyone has a book in them’ and I genuinely believe this to be true.  When it comes to publishing that book… well if your story is good enough and in this day and age if you manage to find an agent and find a mainstream publisher you are certainly one of the lucky ones.  Less than 1% of submissions get picked up, so per publisher that’s one or two books a year out of thousands upon thousands.  With celebrities and established authors swamping the bookshelves debut authors barely stand a chance.  And yet there are SO many manuscripts, stories and concepts out there worth publishing and reading, I think the publishers are simply swamped in submissions and through no fault of their own they can’t keep up with the modern twist in publishing.  So many great books are slipping through their systems and I think the authors are taking stock of this and choosing to pursue their aspirations by publishing independently.  I chose to do exactly this after I was shortlisted by the Brit Writers Awards.

I don’t think the internet or self-published writers ruin the market or hurt the art at all, we’ve just given readers another option and made the book-market more diverse and interesting.  Some independent books disappear to nothing just as some mainstream books do – whereas some other independent books take off and become incredibly popular just as they do with mainstream.

Q:  I for one, feel as though writers today are more insecure in going with their gut, and I know you’ve read my tweets. I’m open about that. What’s your take on the modern writer?

CLARIE: I’ve always gone with my gut!  It’s such a different world nowadays and I really think that if the author believes in their work, it will win through, whether you go mainstream, if that’s the way you want to go, some chose not to, or if you self publish. Another great saying ‘there are many roads to Rome’!  How many twists and turns that road has, who knows?  I don’t think anyone’s journey to publication, no matter how successful/famous, has been a simple motorway ride.  We all have a different story to tell.  I wholeheartedly and indubitably believe in Dead Game.  My journey started way before I was taken on by the Brit Writers as one of the fifteen participants in their first ever publishing programme.  I’ve come thus far now, beyond the point of return and what with the Brit Writers beside me and their philosophy towards creative writing being a mirror image of my own, I shall continue on down my path, endeavouring to inspire and encourage all those in it. 

The publishing process is an entirely different state of affairs from what it was, there’s just so much competition and it can, at times, be very disheartening.  I wanted to throw the towel in a fair few time.  I want to ‘write’ not ‘battle’ my way to publication.  As an author who wants to publish mainstream I’d say you have to be determined, thick skinned and proactive. Researching each agent/publisher you decide to approach tailoring your proposals to suit their requirements. It’s simply a waste of time and money sending out your work to those who don’t work with your genre.

For me, self-publishing, was an amazing experience. Just to see my novel take shape, having full bespoke input; choosing the font to the front-cover design. But once again, out in the commercial world, once all is said and done, you have to hope and pray the public like what you’ve created and that it will catch their eye, out of all the other millions of books on the shelves. Marketing a novel is the biggest challenge; you have to almost be your own brand, be dynamic, unwavering, and persistent… never give up.

 Q: People say down with Publishers, that they shouldn’t be around; I know this is stepping in dangerous waters, but do you think having them crash and head into bankruptcy is the key for a better stream of creative writing?

CLAIRE: No I don’t think ‘down with publishers’ at all.  I think their role is imperative in the publishing world.  But I do think the publishing world is changing and it’s a case of waiting and seeing what will happen.  Publishers need to move with the times and I think they will… they will have to in order to keep their heads above water.

Q:  You are nominated for a Shorty, and I was the first to NOMINATE YOU! IN YOUR FACE FANS OF CLARIE 😉  Do you think we need smaller indie award shows like this to give the Indie artist exposure?

CLAIRE: Thank you Jesse *smiles* you were indeed the first person to nominate me in the Shorty Awards.  You started something I never dreamed possible, you gave me new lease of faith in my tale – I took the huge leap into cyber space and I think it paid off.  The Shorty Awards were fantastic for Dead Game – great exposure – during the competition my followers doubled and I sold two dozen books via twitter.  Yes I definitely think more, smaller indie award shows like this would be fantastic for Indie artists.

 Q: Is there any new projects you’d like to talk about?

CLAIRE: I’m aiming to get Waiting Game, Dead Game’s sequel out early summer 2011.  I’ll keep you posted nearer the time.

Q: What advice would you give the readers out there?

CLAIRE: Please support independent authors as well as mainstream and if you have chance take the time to check DEAD GAME out by visiting my website or my blog I’d love to hear from you and if you decided to buy a copy of the mystical DEAD GAME you’d also be supporting your heroes.

DEAD GAME not only puts forward one answer to death in a fantastical way, uplifting all who have ever loved and lost but really strives to motivate young adults to have pride in themselves and opens their eyes to believing they can achieve something if they say they can.  Obstacles are those fearsome hurdles you see when you take your eyes off your target, so stay focused.

Q:  Claire, it was a blast having you here, any last words you want to leave the readers with?

CLAIRE: Throughout my life I will continue to strive for my own goals, with a readiness to help others along the way, sharing my experiences of writing and persisting to inspire our children to pick up a pen and write creatively.  Writing can help in so many ways, whether the writing is simply a letter or a journal, comic strip, or song.  It’s a socially acceptable way to express how you feel and can heal so many wounds and clarify so many problems.   For anyone who is reading Jesse’s blog and who is thinking about writing themselves, the best advice I can give you is to stop thinking about it and just start writing.  You never know where your pen is going to take you.  We need to motivate our youth to trust that little voice in their heads saying, ‘wouldn’t it be interesting if…’ It is imperative.

I really hope I’ve inspired some of you to read DEAD GAME, or maybe continue on with your own publishing journey and not lose hope or even if I’ve simply encouraged you to pick up a pen or sway one of your children to write, whatever it is I wish you all happy reading and writing.

Tons of love to you all and thank you so much Jesse for having me

Dead Game follows Lance Corporal Archie Fletcher as his plane plummets into the Persian Gulf during the Second Gulf War, but even his wild imagination could never have primed him for the adventure he must now undertake. With guardian angels, a cursed centaur and mythical saints, Archie must now take on a new mission and battle his way through a feral land called ‘Transit’, locked somewhere between Heaven and Earth. This fast paced fantasy will sweep you away to a parallel world where you will follow Archie’s fateful story full of courageous imagination – confirming that knowing deep within us all that the adventure of life must go on. Dead Game is an extraordinary story.

For some young minds it is not enough to say ‘He’s gone to Heaven’, they need to know why, what happens next, how long will they be gone? Dead Game is Claire’s way of answering these poignant questions. Uplifting all those who have ever loved and lost, Dead Game strives to put forward one answer to death and at the same time teaches us; we are what we think; love never dies and that the human soul continues eternally. Claire is part way through completing her second novel, Dead Game’s sequel ‘WAITINGGAME’


3 thoughts on “Indie Artist Q&A with Clarie Kinton

  1. As a fellow BWA participant–and having read Dead Game, I can vouch for the book and the author. Dead Game is a story of hope. A fairytale fantasy for adults, for younger adults, for men and women, girls and boys, alike. Claire is very genuine, talented author and I wish her the success she deserves. GOOD LUCK, Claire.

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