C. E. Clayton is an award winning author born and raised in the greater Los Angeles area. After going the traditional career route and becoming restless, she went back to her first love—writing—and hasn’t stopped. She is the author of the young adult fantasy series “The Monster of Selkirk”, the creator of the cyberpunk Eerden Novels, and her horror short stories have appeared in anthologies across the country. When she’s not writing you can find her treating her fur-babies like humans, constantly drinking tea, and trying to convince her husband to go to more concerts.
Q&A with author C.E. Clayton
WTB: Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
CLAYTON: When I first decided to publish, I knew from the start that I would use a pseudonym. There were two reasons for this: one, was I didn't want my content to be judged based on my gender, which is something women do face, especially in genres like science fiction. But the main reason I decided to use a pseudonym is that my first name is hard to spell: Chelscey. You say it like the normal "Chelsea", but trying to search for it on Amazon or Google could be tricky if you've only ever heard my name said and never seen it written before. Writing under C.E. Clayton just makes me easier to find!
WTB: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
CLAYTON: I'm close friends with authors Tyffany Hackett (who also writes epic YA fantasy) and Hannah Marae (who writes urban fantasy). We've become each other's critique partners, helping each other craft our stories from the very beginning, which usually includes us pointing out plot holes, or when certain scenes need more (or less) emotion. I met them through the Bookstagram community on Instagram and we've been friends for years now! They are just as fast to point out beautiful lines I've written as places where my story is weak, and I do the same for them in return. We often discuss our craft, as well as the state of the genre as a whole which helps our stories satisfy our readers far more than our books probably would have without each other. I am also part of a writing group with other aspiring writers and we all beta read for each other. Having those extra pairs of eyes help ensure that my book is in the best possible shape it can be in before I even send my manuscript to my editor.
WTB: Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
CLAYTON: Generally, I like each book to stand a bit on its own, even if the book is part of a larger series or shared universe. What I mean by that is, that the thing that the characters originally set out to do or solve is accounted for and answered, even if, in doing so, they realize that the journey has just started. I'm all for the occasional cliffhanger, but there's something really satisfying, as a reader, when a story feels like it's wrapped up, but with so much potential for the book and characters to continue on. Because that's what I enjoy as a reader, that's what I try to do most in my books. It doesn't always work out that way, sometimes you can't avoid a cliffhanger, but, when I can, I try to make them stand mostly on their own.
WTB: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
CLAYTON: Research is one of those things that I can sometimes use as a procrastination device if I don't go into it with a plan. So usually, before I start, I figure out the kind of typography my story takes place in, if it takes place in a certain time frame (historic or far future setting), and once I have that figured out, that's when I do my research. I make sure I am using names appropriate for the area or nationality, the science, or lack thereof, is accurate to the world. If I am writing in a new genre, I research the genre ahead of time through Master Class like videos from experts in the field to make sure I understand how to frame the research I'm collecting, and then I begin. It usually takes 1-2 months before I feel like I can start, but I do a second round of research when I start my revisions, that way details feel grounded. Which usually includes medical type research to make sure that the things I'm doing to my characters are things they can survive, and If so, how…
WTB: Does your family support your career as a writer?
CLAYTON: My family is very supportive! My sister was one of my first readers for my YA fantasy series before it was even on my publisher's radar. She reads all my books and tells her friends and their kids, and they usually all end up reading my books, too. She was my first cheerleader and, even 7 books later, is still so excited each time I publish a new story. My parents are also really supportive, they love seeing all the art and admiring my book covers. My mom even buys boxes of my books to give to people she knows, even though she has never actually read them. It's been a true blessing to have their support, and has definitely made the publishing process and the lows of negative reviews much easier to handle.
WTB: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
CLAYTON: I'm a fairly fast writer, I can write a 100k word novel inless than a year usually, as long as I've done all my research beforehand. But I am a very slow reviser. I take a long time to self-edit my books before I feel comfortable having my beta readers ever take a look at what I've written. So it usually takes me about 2 years to complete a book from that first draft to publishing ready. Thankfully, I usually have many projects moving at different speeds, so while one book is with beta readers, I'm editing another, while another project may already be with my editor. So, even though I'm not fast to finish books despite my initial fast writing speeds, the gaps between when I publish aren't huge.
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