The Fiction Team’s Alan steps in to chat to Wendy Clarke, our Writer of the Week, about her story The Little Things in the latest issue.
As with the plot of The Little Things, your stories are often centred around thought-provoking family environments. What is it about writing family-based stories that you find so inspiring?
I’ve always been interested in family dynamics – the relationship between parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren and between siblings. Maybe it’s because I’m a daughter, sister, mother and grandmother. Families can provide endless material as there are so many emotions and themes to tap into under one roof. Love, jealousy, loyalty, anger, grief… the list is endless.
You’re adept at writing from either the male or female viewpoint. Does this ever prove challenging to write, or do you feel a character’s gender can work whatever the storyline?
Not challenging at all! I am equally comfortable writing from the male or female viewpoint. I look at theme of my story and decide whose voice it would fit best and who would convey the emotions most convincingly.
I remember your first serial for us, Charlotte’s War, was set on Guernsey during World War II. Do you have a preference for writing historical or contemporary stories?
I have written both contemporary and historical stories for the “Friend”. Each have their own merits. I enjoy the research that goes into historical writing, such as my serial “Charlotte’s War”, but then again, I like studying the minutiae of life closer to home in contemporary stories. Either way, I like to try and add a little of myself into each story – an emotion I’ve felt, a situation I’ve experienced or even advice I’ve been given over the years.
Similarly, what about location – do certain settings appeal for different types of storylines? For instance, would a sunny location inspire a more romantic storyline in you?
Have you noticed that many of my stories are set in the Lake District? No surprise there – it’s my favourite place to visit in England. I love travelling and, almost without fail, write a story set in that location once I’ve returned home. I’ve recently been staying in the mountains of Mallorca so it’s very likely you’ll see a story of mine set there!
Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
Laptop all the way. If I wrote in long hand nobody (including myself) would be able to read it and writing longhand reminds me too much of school. I am a nomadic writer in that I write where the mood takes me. Although I have a writing room, I’m usually to be found in the conservatory or the garden.
P.S. What’s your one top tip for aspiring writers?
Just one? I think it would have to be to try and find your own voice. Once you’ve done that, writing becomes a whole lot easier.