Monday, October 27, 2014

Interview with Claire Bridgeman, Author of the Spellweaver Chronicles Series

Welcome to Claire Bridgeman, author of the Spellweaver Chronicles. So far on this blog I've reviewed books one and two. You can find the review of Spellweaver (book 1) here and Sun Stealers (book 2) here. Book 3 is due to be released shortly and  you can check back here for the review on that one too.

I'll be interviewing her here on Shelf Full of Books today so we can get a better idea of what this busy lady does when she's not writing. Welcome Claire, and thank you for taking time out to talk with us.

Where were you born and where do you call home? 
I was born in Norwich, in the east of England, and it is also where I call home. In fact, I live in the same house that my dad grew up in, by pure coincidence!

What do you do when you are not writing?
I'm a teacher most days, and a mother every day! I have a gorgeous 2 year old daughter named Pearl and if I could spend every waking moment with her, then I would. But alas, I can't. So during the week I teach teenagers how to do Drama (and also coerse them into reading my books!!)

Where is one place in the world that you would really love to visit someday?
I've always wanted to go to Greece and see the Akropolis, and Rome to see the Colosseum. I find ancient history fascinating!

What is your favourite motivational phrase.
"Don't wish for it, work for it."

How long have you been an author?
Oooh, that's a tough one! I've been writing stories since primary school. My teacher loved them and smacked this great big 'Excellent' sticker on them. But that was when I was about 7 years old so I don't think that counts... I suppose it must be for almost two years, because that's how long it has taken to both conceive and write Spellweaver and Sun Stealers (and my so far unnamed third book!)

What inspired you to write The Spellweaver Chronicles?
My love of all things fantasy. I mean, I've always wanted to get a book out there, but the reason it became the Spellweaver Chronicles is because of how much I love fantasy and how much I love writing. I have a really vivid imagination that really excites me, and I want to share the stories that I tell myself in my head. If they can excite others as much as they do me, then I've succeeded!

How did your book come to life?
Had I written it earlier, I might have caught on to the urban fantasy genre when it was growing. It seems to be at its height now, with things like Harry Potter, Twlight and the Hunger Games as popular as they are. I've loved writing and I've loved the fantasy genre for longer than any of these books have been out, but I didn't feel that I was ready to put something out on the shelves. Then, along came Spellweaver. to begin with, I was writing stories that required creating a whole new world for the characters to live in, and it took me a long, long time to realise that that wasn't going to work for me. I didn't feel that my worlds were convincing or strong enough to survive. So then I thought about setting my story in our world, with Dungeons & Dragons-esque features, and after that Felicity's story just seemed to spill out. 

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
One of the most challenging things is making it consistent and not contradicting anything that you've said in earlier books or chapters. When you have a series, it's easy to neglect to explain something, or describe something as yellow and then inadvertently change it to green. You have to be really, really careful because someone somewhere is bound to notice!! It requires reading and rereading your books time and time again, or having little minions to do it for you!!

Why did you choose to self-publish your books?
I like the control that being self-published brings. I designed my front cover, got the book printed, have complete control over my sales - it's great. It's not incredibly profitable (unless the word spreads and you become a roaring success overnight) because advertising is expensive and you don't have the contacts that publishers and agents have. That's the bit that I really struggle with. I do what I can, looking for reviewers and paying for some advertising that isn't out of my price range, but I'll never be able to do what a publisher can.

How do you market your books?
As a teacher, I tell my students about it. There are free copies in a couple of high schools in Norfolk and I'm hoping to send more out to other schools in my region. I also plan on offering myself up as a visiting writer for no fee, so I could go into schools and do a presentation and sell my books at the same time! I also take advantage of the Kindle Select program, which allows me to offer my book to Kindle users for free for a limited time. On one occasion Spellweaver got almost 3,000 downloads whilst it was on a free offer. 

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Use your contacts! Start a website, start a Facebook page and get your friends to join and spread the word. Ask your friends and family to read your book and tell their friends. Get in touch with bloggers and offer a copy of your book in exchange for an honest review (preferably one that goes on Amazon and Goodreads, too). Find a way to target your specific audience. Do giveaways. Advertise, but don't go overboard and spend money you don't have; it's very easy to believe that paying for a certain advert or something will boost your book, but then it doesn't work out quite as well as you thought. At the same time, be prepared to spend much more than you make, especially at the beginning. 

Spellweaver (The Spellweaver Chronicles)
By Claire Bridgeman
Publisher: CJ Bridgeman
Published: October 20, 2013

Amazon Synopsis:

Felicity Lucas never really knew her mother. Even though they had lived together for all the fourteen years that Felicity had been alive, they had barely even had a meaningful conversation. It was a relationship that was far from perfect. 

So when her mother dies in a car crash and Felicity is sent to live with her estranged father in a deprived London borough, she is determined to move on. It isn't easy - content with her solitude, she's never had friends before, but the most popular girl in her new school won't leave her alone and she's forced to attend counselling. To make things worse, it's obvious that her father doesn't want her around. 

It is only after she discovers a book of spells and is attacked by a strange boy who can conjure flames in his hands that she starts to realise that her mother was far more than what she seemed. She had a great many secrets, secrets that promise to thrust Felicity into a terrifying world of magic and straight into the path of beings who are determined to destroy her... 

Book Links

Sun Stealers (The Spellweaver Chronicles Book 2)
By CJ Bridgeman
Publisher: CJ Bridgeman
Published: June 16, 2014

Amazon Synopsis:

It’s tough when you’ve just found out that the weight of not one world but two is hanging on your shoulders. 

This is the life of Felicity Lucas. 

Her mother was the Spellweaver, the most powerful magic user of both worlds. Now that she’s gone, the title and the power have passed to her only daughter, a fourteen-year-old student at Greenfields High School. She has no choice but to learn the skills that her mother had, to weave magic like she did; she has to keep the mysterious ‘others’ at bay and stop a strange group of cultists bent on bringing down the sun. 

All of this - and she has exams coming up. 

Book Links

Book 3 Soon to be released!

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