Q&A with Debut Author Claire Huston!

Hi book friends!

Let me tell you, we’re in for a treat today! I’m thrilled to have Claire Huston on the blog to tell us all about her recently released debut novel Art and Soul. Claire and I first met through the book blogging and baking blogsphere quite a few years ago. And we very nearly met in London while I was visiting my in-laws. Hopefully in the future we’ll get another chance!

I was fortunate to read an ARC of Art and Soul and it is a delight! The perfect kind of uplifting and charming read for these quarantine times. (Check out my Goodreads review here: https://bit.ly/3fjkIqp)

Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, Claire, and congratulations again on you brilliant debut!

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AK: Tell us a little about yourself.

CH: Hello! My name’s Claire Huston. I live in right in the middle of England in a county called Warwickshire, which is most famous for being the home of Shakespeare. I’m married and have two sons. When not looking after my children, I work part-time as a translator of Spanish to English. If there’s any time left, I enjoy baking, but probably not as much as the kids enjoy eating the results of my efforts!

 

AK: What’s the premise of your book?

CH: Art and Soul is an uplifting contemporary romance featuring art, cake and, of course, love.

The heroine, Becky Watson, is a struggling single mother who used to work as a freelance life-fixer, solving her clients’ crises, no matter how big or small. But since having her son two years ago she’s been stuck preventing wedding fiascos for the richest and rudest residents of the Comptons, a charming, leafy area of southern England known for its artistic heritage.

So when semi-reclusive local artist Charlie Handren reluctantly hires Becky to fix his six-year creative slump, she’s delighted to set him up with a come-back exhibition and Rachel Stone, the woman of his dreams.

Though they get off to a rocky start, Becky and Charlie soon become close. But as the beautiful Rachel becomes Charlie’s muse, Becky is forced to wonder: will giving Charlie everything he wants mean giving up her own happily ever after?

 

AK: What inspired you to write it?

CH: I fully accept that the following will sound odd, but please take into account that I did English Literature at university and some texts you study stay with you for life.

It all began with me misremembering something from Marlowe’s version of Doctor Faustus. I had got it into my head that at some point in the play Mephistopheles expresses sorrow for Faustus, and then I wondered what would happen in a version of the story in which the demon grows fond of his master over the years he’s serving him. It was a (relatively) short imaginative journey from there to a story about a highly capable woman (who isn’t a demon or supernatural in any way) working to realise the dreams of a man (who isn’t a Faustian megalomaniac) and falling in love with him along the way.

My working title for the drafts of the book was Modern Mephistopheles, although obviously that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue so was changed!

I’ve tried to write a few novels over the years, but have always got stuck about halfway through. This was the first time I had a clear vision of the very end of the book and I think that’s why this is the first one I managed to finish.

 

AK: What are you most looking forward to this debut year? And conversely, what are you most nervous about?

CH: I’m very excited to see what happens as publishing the book is all new territory. I’m probably most looking forward to being able to tell people about my book knowing they’ll be able to read it rather than just listen to be harp on about it!

I suppose I’m a little nervous about the whole publication process as it’s a first for me. Hopefully it’ll all go smoothly and the book will find its audience.

 

AK: What authors do you admire and/or have influenced your development as a writer? Please feel free to add specific books, we love recommendations!

CH: I will restrain myself here as once I start on this subject it’s difficult to stop!

I’m not sure whether I could pinpoint any specific authors who have influenced my development as a writer. I suspect you unconsciously absorb a little of everything you read over the years and this comes out in your own style.

In the romance genre, the ultimate inspiration for me will always be Jane Austen (particularly Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice) and Charlotte Bronte (Jane Eyre, but Villette gets overlooked).

As a reader, my true loves will always be science fiction and fantasy. Two of my favourite authors growing up were Diana Wynne Jones (Howl’s Moving Castle is probably my all-time favourite book, but Archer’s Goon is also superb) and Terry Pratchett (anything and everything he wrote is wonderful).

Book blogging has allowed me to keep a record of everything I’ve read over the past five years, and I have a page dedicated to the books which I’ve given 5 stars. There are 12 so far, and if I had to pick from those the ones I think would have the widest appeal, I’d chose: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness; The Martian by Andy Weir and Circe by Madeline Miller.

 

AK: What are you working on now?

CH: I have to get back to the difficult second novel. It’s another contemporary romance, this time set in the Cotswolds, a particularly picturesque part of England. This one was inspired by one of my favourite films, It’s a Wonderful Life, and has a little more darkness in it than my debut, but ultimately it will be another uplifting read.

If I can give myself a shove to get it finished I hope to publish in 2021.

 

AK: We know each other from the book blogging and baking world and I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed your reviews and recipes. Tell us, what’s the best thing you’ve baked recently?

CH: I surprised myself by making the most delicious cappuccino and vanilla swirl layer cake. I say surprised because I’m not the greatest fan of coffee, but the finished product was absolutely delicious, had a beautiful texture and sliced perfectly. It was devoured in an indecently short time and while I’d like to blame that on the kids, it was mostly my fault!

It’s also an easy bake, so if anyone would like to try it, the recipe is here: https://clairehuston.co.uk/2019/10/04/recipe-cappuccino-swirl-layer-cake-with-caramel-buttercream/

Cappuccino swirl layer cake with caramel buttercream

AK: What question do you wish I had asked, and answer it!

CH: Rather than answer a question, I’d like to take this chance to express my gratitude to all those who have supported me with my writing and blogging. Family, friends, writers and fellow bloggers have all been encouraging, and I’d like to thank them for being wonderful. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to make them some appreciation cake!

Claire Huston author photo 2020

BOOK INFO:

Title: Art and Soul

Release date: 23rd April 2020 (ebook and paperback)

Synopsis:

Struggling single mother Becky Watson longs to revive her career as a life-fixer, working miracles to solve her clients’ problems, no matter how big or small. Since the birth of her two-year-old son she has been stuck preventing wedding fiascos for the richest and rudest residents of the Comptons, a charming, leafy area of southern England known for its artistic heritage.

So when semi-reclusive local artist Charlie Handren reluctantly hires Becky to fix his six-year creative slump, she’s delighted to set him up with a come-back exhibition and Rachel Stone, the woman of his dreams.

Though they get off to a rocky start, Becky and Charlie soon become close. But as the beautiful Rachel becomes Charlie’s muse, Becky is forced to wonder: will giving Charlie everything he wants mean giving up her own happily ever after?

A heart-warming, uplifting romance served with a generous slice of cake. Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Katie Fforde and Cathy Kelly.

Where To Get Your Copy: getbook.at/ClaireHustonAandS

Let’s Get Social:

Website and blog: www.clairehuston.co.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClaraVal

Facebook: https://facebook.com/clairehustonauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/claire_huston

Pinterest: https://pinterest.co.uk/claire_huston

Instagram: https://instagram.com/clairehuston_author

2 thoughts on “Q&A with Debut Author Claire Huston!

Add yours

    1. It’s an absolute pleasure! I love your book! And that cake you baked for your launch was stunning! :-)

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