Clodagh Murphy is an Irish author of romantic comedy novels and lives in Dublin. She has had four novels and a novella published to date by Hachette Ireland. She is a compulsive writer, an inveterate dreamer, a devoted aunt, an enthusiastic traveller and an expert procrastinator. She loves writing funny, sexy, romantic stories with lots of kissing. Her writing heroine is Joan Wilder from Romancing the Stone.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I loved making up stories from an early age, and I was always writing something. It was a compulsion, and something that came naturally to me. I think I was about twelve when I started writing my first novel. I even made a cover for it. I used to write a lot of short stories too when I was younger, and the first thing I ever had published was a short story. So starting things was never really a problem for me. Finishing was a lot harder – but I really wanted to be a published author, so I was very motivated to keep going.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? I don’t really have a structured writing day at all. It’s pretty haphazard, and sometimes I wonder how I ever get anything finished. I work four days a week, so most writing is done at evenings and weekends. If I’m under deadline pressure, I’ll write late into the night rather than get up early in the morning, and will occasionally pull an all-nighter. Sometimes I’ll take time off to go away and write, and that’s when I’m most productive. I love having big blocks of time to concentrate on the writing, and getting away from all the distractions of everyday life makes a huge difference.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Yes, I do. I’ve found that staring at the screen tearing my hair out doesn’t work. I’ve tried that a lot! It’s more effective to step away and do something else for a while – maybe go for a walk, or do some activity that’s engrossing but at the same time doesn’t occupy my brain, so I can allow my mind to wander. Baking is good, and I find doing jigsaws great for thinking through plot problems. The solution often comes to me when I stop trying to force it and just let my thoughts drift.
4.Are you a plotter or panster when it comes to writing a story? I’m definitely a pantser – although I do plan to some extent, even if it doesn’t really feel like planning. It might be just working out what’s going to happen in the next scene before I write it, or I might have worked out an overall story arc before I begin but have no idea what’s going to happen in the middle. I don’t really plan on paper at all, but I do play scenes out in my head as I’m walking around and going through my day. I envy plotters sometimes because it can be quite panic-inducing not having a clue where the story’s going – but then it’s lovely when it suddenly comes to you, and it seems to appear out of your subconscious and takes you by surprise.
5.Are you traditionally or self-published, and what was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors?
I’m traditionally published. All my novels to date have been published by Hachette Ireland. However, I’ve also self-published them as ebooks in the US because I don’t have a US publisher, so I have some experience of self-publishing too. The publishing process has mainly been a very happy and positive one, though it can be very frustrating at times. I’d advise aspiring authors to learn as much as they can about the publishing business, whether they plan to self-publish or go down the traditional route. Knowledge is power.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Seeing my books on the shelves in shops is always a high, of course, but I think the best thing is getting great feedback from readers and reviewers. It still seems kind of surreal when complete strangers are so engaged with characters that came out of my imagination.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. My last book Some Girls Do, is about Claire, who is the anonymous author of a very successful sex blog, where she writes about her sexual adventures. In reality, though, she’s very inexperienced and lives a quiet life with her incapacitated mother. Mark, a London publisher, offers her a book deal based on the blog, and when they meet in real life, there’s an obvious attraction between them. But Claire is worried that she won’t live up to Mark’s expectations in the bedroom, so she enlists the help of Luca, a brooding artist, to help her brush up on her sex skills so she can live up to her sassy online persona.
8.What audience is your book targeted for, and what genre does it come under? Naturally I’d be happy for anyone to read my books (though they’re definitely not suitable for children). My main audience would be women, though I have had some lovely feedback from male readers occasionally. My books are romantic comedy, and are targeted at anyone who loves a funny, romantic, sexy story.
9.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time?
I read a lot, not surprisingly. I love travelling and do as much as I can. I also love TV and cinema, eating out, and just hanging out with friends and family.
10.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.)
I’d say get active on social media. Connect with bloggers and readers, as well as other writers, on Facebook and Twitter. Engage with people and be friendly – don’t just relentlessly promote your book. That’s very off-putting. Contact bloggers and ask if they’d be interested in reviewing your book – but be polite, don’t hassle them about it, and do thank them if they post a review.
11.How much research do you do when starting a story? It depends on the story. Some haven’t required much research beyond the odd bit of Googling. If I need more depth – about a character’s job or a medical condition, for example – I’ll find someone to talk to. Social media is a good place to find people for help with research. The book I had to do most research for was my second, Girl in a Spin. It was set in the world of British politics, which I knew nothing about. Luckily I was put in touch with a friend of a friend to help me with that, and I did a lot of emailing and phoning with him, as well as meeting up once in person. I sent him the book when it was done, and I was very pleased that he found the story completely authentic.