I’M SO EXCITED! Thursday was the launch of Finding Claire Fletcher, the poignant tale of a young woman who was kidnapped at the age of fifteen and held captive for ten years. This incredible novel of love, loss, and hope was written by my very best friend, Lisa Regan. (Read my review of FCF here.)
I was lucky enough to have read this book as a critique partner a couple of years ago, and since then, I’ve read it an additional three times. That’s how much I love it! I know you’ll love it, too. As a preview, I’d like to give you a bit of insight into Lisa and her novel so you can see just how wonderful and talented she really is. So here is an interview I conducted. Enjoy!
Why the obsession with missing children?
I think it was from being bombarded as an adolescent by missing child stories. Jacob Wetterling and Jaycee Dugard were both abducted within two years of each other and the news coverage was extensive. Certainly something I’ve never forgotten. Right around that time, that TV miniseries I Know My First Name is Steven about Steven Stayner came out and that had a big impact on me. I was the same age as Wetterling and Dugard and I think it was a that-could-be-me kind of thing that started the obsession.
You’ve been writing since you were a child, so what is it about Finding Claire Fletcher that made you want to seek representation and a publishing contract?
It was the first thing I wrote that had a discernible plot! As an adult it was the second novel that I finished. In my first novel I was trying to do too much. But FCF was pretty simple: girl is abducted. Here’s what happens. Man tries to find her. FCF seemed much better written than everything that came before it. I just had this feeling that after all those years of trying, I had written something worth reading.
How long was it from the day you started writing Finding Claire Fletcher to the day you finally signed your publishing contract, and was there ever a time you just wanted to give up, tuck Finding Claire Fletcher into a drawer, and move on? If so, why didn’t you?
I started writing it sometime in early 2004 and I signed my contract on 4/3/12 so it was eight years from first word to contract. If I had a dollar for every time I wanted to give up, I wouldn’t have to work. Yes, there were times I wanted to put FCF into a drawer. There were times I felt like I should put it into a drawer and move on. But Claire’s voice was so compelling to me that I simply couldn’t. The whole time I was writing it, I felt like she was standing behind me with her hand on my shoulder, whispering the words into my ear. She became like a real person to me, and I felt like I owed it to her to see her story through. Maybe because she represents all the children who have lived through an abduction whose stories most people turn away from.
What is the most important lesson you learned during this time between writing and publication?
Ask for help. When I was growing up, I approached so many teachers asking for help or direction with my writing, and I was consistently blown off. So by the time I started writing as an adult I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I didn’t want to ask for help because I was sure no one would give it. But my college professors were wonderful, and, later, after I started querying unsuccessfully, I found plenty of other writers willing to help me (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Unfortunately I didn’t have critique partners or beta readers until after I started querying for FCF. I really believe if I had gotten the type of feedback I got between 2006 and 2010 from CPs and betas before I sent out my first query, my journey would have been a lot shorter. Plus this is not a journey you want to take alone. You need other writers to support and encourage you—only they can understand the unique misery you’ll experience. Get involved in a writing community—in person or online and accept their help and support.
Do you think the subject matter in Finding Claire Fletcher made it a hard sell, and why?
Absolutely. It’s the element of sexual assault that makes it a hard sell. I’ve found that murder and dismemberment are easier for people to deal with than rape. But I purposely did not want to shy away from it. It happens to women all over the world every day. It is real, and it is damaging. We shouldn’t pretend it doesn’t exist. We shouldn’t minimize it. I think that would be a disservice to women (and men, too) who are recovering from it or have survived it—and their loved ones whose lives are also affected by sexual assault. You know, Diane Sawyer asked Jaycee Lee Dugard why she went into detail about the sexual assaults she suffered at the hands of her abductor in her memoir and Dugard said, “Why not look at it? You know, stare it down until it can’t scare you anymore?” I think that is incredibly brave.
With real-life cases like Shawn Hornbeck, Elizabeth Smart, and Jaycee Lee Dugard so well-known, why do think the Big Six turned Finding Claire Fletcher down on grounds they thought it unbelievable that a kidnap victim allowed to leave her prison would not seek help from the authorities?
Well obviously I can’t speak for the Big 6 but I think the real issue is that most people have a hard time believing the real-life instances. I think a lot of people look at kids like Hornbeck, Smart, and Dugard and, in the back of their minds, there is a nagging question as to why they didn’t try to escape. What people don’t realize is that, first of all, these were children. Do you remember how you felt when you were 11 or 14? Do you think you would have been equipped to handle being torn away from everything you knew and systematically tortured, both physically and emotionally for a sustained period of time? Because make no mistake—what happened to these kids was torture. Second, they were completely terrorized and broken down by their captors. By the time people see them on the news, they’re grown up. They look like and they are now adults. People forget that they were just kids when they were taken. So I think a lot of people want to say, “Why didn’t they just walk away?” But no one looks at a Prisoner of War and says, “Why didn’t he just bust out of there like Rambo?” They are kids and they’ve been tortured. I think that’s the point people miss. But to answer your question, some publishers may have reasoned that if people find it hard to swallow that real life kids don’t leave at the first opportunity, then they won’t buy a fictional account.
After all the hard work getting Finding Claire Fletcher a home, what’s been the most difficult part since?
Managing my time. I had no idea that this part would be so busy! Don’t get me wrong, I’m ecstatic and euphoric. It has just been hard finding time for everything on top of working full-time and raising a child. But I wouldn’t have it any other way!
What can we look forward to next from you?
More of the same! LOL. Well there is Aberration which comes out on 6/6/13. It’s about an FBI profiler working on a serial killer case where she turns out to be the object of his affection. The WIP I’m working on now is about a single mom who is a detective in
Philadelphia investigating a series of sex
crimes. After that I had planned on
working on a new book that would have Connor and Claire in it, but we’ll see
how successful FCF is—if people like it, I’ll bring Connor and Claire
back. If not, I’ve got a few other
things up my sleeve, but whatever it is you can count on dark and gritty.
Thanks, Lisa! As part of the Finding Claire Fletcher Blog Tour (12/6 - 12/21), Lisa Regan will be giving away:
· $25.00 Amazon Gift Card
· 1 signed copy of the paperback of Finding Claire Fletcher
· 1 e-book version of Finding Claire Fletcher
All you have to do is visit the Finding Claire Fletcher Blog Tour & Giveaway page and comment on that page letting Lisa know whose blog you’ve just come from. Each commenter will be assigned a number and then the winners will be chosen using random.org. Winners will be announced on 12/24/12!
And please stop by Lisa’s tour to learn more …
Lisa’s Blog Tour:
12/6: Emily Unraveled
12/7: Bards & Prophets
12/10: Nancy S. Thompson
12/11: Cassie Mae
12/12: Melissa Maygrove
12/14: Falling for Fiction
12/17: So, You're a Writer
12/18: Julie Flanders
12/21: The Doubting Writer
Find Lisa here:
Blog Website Amazon Goodreads Sapphire Star Publishing
Buy the book here:
Watch this awesome book trailer for Finding Claire Fletcher
Buy the book here: