For her new poetry collection, Encounters, Laurie Clayton has taken inspiration from personal experiences and observations. The poems, which tackle some dark emotive issues, are balanced with a mix of sensual, erotic and spiritual offerings along with a few playful digs at life's minor irritations.
Find Laurie's blog HERE
Find Laurie's blog HERE
What was the first thing you had published?
A short poem entitled ‘New Birth’. I had entered it into a contest organised by Writelink, an online writing community. It didn’t win, but thanks to a public vote, it gained enough support to be included in the anthology ‘A pocketful of spring’.
What inspires you?
Anything and everything. Sounds cliché, but it’s true. It can be something simple like a butterfly flittering past, a piece of music, a comment or an incident that causes me to ask ‘What if that was me, how would I feel, how would I cope, how would others react?’
What are your writing strengths and weaknesses?
Aside from the obvious answer, imagination, I consider my main strengths to be observational skills combined with a strong sense of empathy; an ability to immerse myself into different situations and emotions.
I think my biggest weaknesses revolve around punctuation and the occasional spelling mistake, but with dyslexia running in the family to varying degrees, the latter is probably not surprising. I can read a word that is spelt correctly, yet be convinced that it is wrong. My biggest bugbear, by far, are the apostrophes. Just when I think I have a handle on them, they start to appear in all the wrong places. The more I consider the rules, the more confused I become. (Slippery little blighters in my opinion.)
Do you have a writing routine or any odd writing quirks?
Once an idea strikes, my natural routine would be to sit at the computer and work away until a natural completion; whether that be as little as ten minutes, ten hours or longer. However, since the birth of my daughter, I have to make do with whatever time I can snatch, which is not always conducive to the artistic flow.
I never know where or when my muse is going to kick in, although true to form, it is usually within the wee small hours and at the most inconvenient moments. That said, some of my most emotive creations began this way. Once awake, my brain takes over and sleep becomes a lost cause. At this point, I usually end up firing up the laptop, just to get things down before they disappear into the ether, never to return. Apparently, there is nothing like a touch of sleep deprivation to sharpen the creative process, especially where poetry is concerned.
Is there a special place you like to write?
I would love to say yes; that I have this perfectly tidy get-away cabin ,with an enormously spacious desk, a haven in which to be creative, alas I cannot; for now I have to make do with wherever I can lay my laptop.
Tell us about your proudest writing achievement.
When my short story ‘Going Solo’ was selected for inclusion in the charity anthology ‘100 stories for Queensland’. This was the first time that my writing was considered to be of a publishable standard on its own merits – by writers, editors and publishers from around the world; people who didn’t know me from Adam. This was the point that I finally realised how much my writing had improved.
Regarding poetry, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Learn the rules but don’t be afraid to break them.
Who is your favourite poet?
In all honesty, I don’t have one. I tend to like poetry for itself, not for the person who wrote it. Like many of my age, I have some fond and not so fond memories of the war poets Sassoon and Owen. I enjoy the classics of Keats and Shelley and some of Carol Ann Duffy’s work strikes a chord, but I have no definitive favourite.
What was the hardest thing about putting together a poetry collection?
The first thing was collating enough material with a central theme. It surprised me just how many poems that made the original cut, didn’t make it into the collection.
The second was choosing the title and style of the cover. I wanted simple but eye catching.
With the main theme leaning heavily towards emotions evoked by various human interactions, Encounters seemed to fit the bill for the title.
For the cover, combining the stark contrast of a red rose against a black background gave a perfect visual whilst subliminally representing the beauty, pain, colour and darkness of human emotion.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently formatting the manuscript for Encounters ready for the e-reader market, something that is proving to be quite a challenge where poetry layout is concerned. I never consciously set out to write poetry as it has a tendency to interrupt me when working on something else, so the plan of action is to concentrate on my novels and take it from there.
Laurie Clayton lives in the South of England with her family. Whilst her main interest is poetry, she also writes short stories, non-fiction articles and currently has two novels in the pipeline. One of her stories was chosen for the charity anthology:
Laurie Clayton was talking to Maureen Vincent-Northam, co-author of The Writer's ABC Checklist (Secrets to Success)