Claire Gillian is a number-crunching executive by profession, an after hours writer by passion, and a darkly romantic curmudgeon. Published in short stories and anthologies, The P.U.R.E marks Claire’s official, and debut, transition to the publication of her work in novel form. While Claire’s writing spans all ages and subject matters, she’s happiest penning romance drenched in humor with a dash of intrigue and loads of spice. Claire lives in the boggy Pacific NW with her husband and two teen-aged sons.
Let’s get to know Claire better.
Claire: I’m married and have two teenaged sons. My primary job is CFO/COO for a services subsidiary of a Fortune 500 company. I grew up a military brat but my parents were southerners and that’s where they finally settled when I was sixteen. I kept moving after college to England, then Texas, then New Mexico and most recently to the Portland OR area where I’ve lived nearly twenty years. My evenings and weekends are devoted to writing, and have been since 2008 when I started writing in earnest. The P.U.R.E. is my debut novel but I’ve previously published short stories in anthologies and in e-zines under two different pen names.
Me: Did you always want to be a writer?
Claire: No. Writing was up there with winning an Olympic gold medal—something I would have loved to have achieved in my lifetime but not something I ever really gave myself credit for being able to do. I didn’t think I had the patience to write something as extensive as a novel. I’m sure in my youth, I did not. I started writing fan fiction and had my first taste of putting my work out there for others to read because of the online fan fiction community at Live Journal. Prior to that, I’d always had people tell my non-fiction newsletter articles and Christmas card “brag rags” were entertaining, but never did that translate into, “Gee, I’ll bet I could write a really awesome novel!” not until my fan fiction blossomed into a story that grew longer and longer and before I knew it had surpassed the 80k mark. It was crap, but at least I knew I could sustain some sort of plot for the requisite length.
Me: Where did you get the idea for The P.U.R.E?
Claire: The P.U.R.E. came from my own first hand experiences in public accounting. Though the people and situations in my book are 90% fictional, I drew upon the collapse of my former employer, one of the Bix Six public accounting firms, and the overhaul of the industry as a whole because of the Enron and other scandals of that day. I made my story’s crimes a little more salacious and sensational, but many of the heroine’s feelings of being out of her league, being misjudged, concerned she’d made the wrong career choice, concerned about dating co-workers lest she taint her career opportunities in a then very male-dominated profession, and concerned about sexual harassment and sexism—those I drew from my own experiences.
Me: Is there anything you need in order to write? (a place, food item etc.)
Claire: It’s no secret I’m addicted to Diet Coke, so I usually have one at hand no matter where I write. I do 99% of my writing at a computer but that could be my Mac in my home office, my little netbook or my company computer on my lunch break (though I can’t save and have to email anything I happen to create).
Me: What is one book you think everyone should read? (except yours, of course)
Claire: Ooh, that’s a tough question. There are so many wonderful books I’ve read that I’ve gushed to others as being MUST READS at various points in my life. But in retrospect, some of the novels that made the biggest impressions on me have been Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, and Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Oh, and I’d probably throw in the short stories of O’Henry and a comprehensive tome of Greek myths including the works of Homer. That’s way more than one. Sorry.
Me: Any book(s) you are eagerly awaiting for in 2012?
Claire: I’m looking forward to Stacia Kane’s next Downside Ghosts book and probably the next Stephanie Perkins book because I LOVED Anna and the French Kiss as well as Lola and the Boy Next Door. I usually snatch up anything by Charlaine Harris and have fallen hard for Annalise Ryan’s “Stiff” mysteries featuring a coroner’s assistant. Alex Adams has an awesome post-apocalyptic book coming out the day after The P.U.R.E. called White Horse. I’m looking forward to that one too.
Me: Are you working on something new?
Claire: Definitely yes. I have so many in process projects, it’s pathetic. I have an anthology of short stories nearly ready to submit to an e-publisher under my erotica pen name, then I’ll probably dig into my YA novel and do some heavy-duty editing to get it ready for querying. I have an urban fantasy series plotted with the first book completed but in need of some polishing. I have a UK-based thriller I’ve worked on for two National Novel Writing Month challenges in a row and STILL haven’t finished because honestly, it requires more skill than I currently possess. That story has been brewing in my head for nearly two decades and won’t settle for anything less than my best. I have two other YA novels I’ve started. Then there are all the stories bouncing around my head itching to get out. I write a lot of short stories, have over 100 I’ve published on my blog. Given that many of my novels started off as shorts, that’s a lot of stub outs for possible future works.
Me: If you are asked to write in a genre other than what you write, what would it be?
Claire: I am an eclectic reader and writer, and because of that I have dabbled in horror, paranormal and contemporary romance, steampunk, chick lit, mysteries, humor and contemporary YA. The common thread is usually a romance, that can be anywhere from steamy to sweet. The P.U.R.E. happens to be a romantic mystery, and I do love a good mystery. They are mentally challenging to write but very satisfying when done well. If I couldn’t have my romance, cozy mysteries would probably be the genre I’d pick.
No one ever said Gayle Lindley’s first job would be a killer.
Fresh out of college, Gayle’s career path should follow the yellow brick road straight to the top. Thanks to a menial errand gone wrong, a wayward tongue, and a randy supervisor who won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, Gayle’s stuck in corporate hell.
Discovering a company secret only turns up the heat.
The one part of her life not going down in flames is her friendship with the gorgeous but intensely private, Jon Cripps. Jon would make the perfect consolation prize for Gayle’s pity party if dating a co-worker wasn’t career suicide. Then again, with all Gayle has been through, maybe falling in love is the lucky break she needs.
Hitting the cool sheets with Jon soothes her mind and body, but it also enrages whoever’s behind the smokescreen she’s uncovered at work. Someone is willing to kill to protect their secrets, and Gayle and Jon are the targets.
With both her heart and livelihood at stake, Gayle’s early career-limiting moves could turn into life-terminating ones.
One ecopy for the winner.
Open to everyone.
Running from 18 April to 25 April.