When you visit Wendy’s website, you are first greeted by a friendly smile and an intriguing novel. Grabs your attention right away. The Scribbler is most fortunate to have Wendy as our guest this week. She is sharing her thoughts in a 4Q Interview and agreed to share a sample of her writing.
Wendy Clarke started her career writing short fiction and serials for national women’s magazines. After having over three hundred short stories published, she progressed to writing novels. With a degree in psychology, and intrigued with how the human mind can affect behaviour, it was inevitable that she would eventually want to explore her darker side.
What She Saw is her debut psychological thriller, published by Bookouture. Her second, We Were Sisters, comes out in August 2019.
In her previous life, Wendy has published three collections of short stories and has been a short story judge for the Chiltern Writers Group, Nottingham Writers Group and The Society of Women Writers and journalists.
Wendy lives with her husband, cat and step-dog in Sussex and when not writing is usually dancing, singing or watching any programme that involves food!
4Q: Let’s talk about your novel – What She Saw. Great cover, interesting setting.
WC: Thank you, I’m glad you like it. A lot of readers think that authors choose their own covers but in a lot of cases this isn’t the case. My editor and the cover designer spent a lot of time discussing possible ideas: motifs and colours that would work well with the storyline, the genre of ‘Psychological Thriller’ and the title. When they were happy, they emailed it over to me to see what I thought. Luckily, I loved it, especially the red shoes which start you asking questions – who do they belong to? What happened to the child? The novel is set in The Lake District which is one of my favourite parts of England. It’s beautiful, yet haunting. In other words, the perfect setting for a psychological thriller.
4Q: Your website tells us about your writing journey and the numerous stories you’ve written and that you are working on your second novel. What can you tell us about that?
WC: My second novel is called ‘We Were Sisters’ and is about an over-protective young mother, Kelly, who is struggling after the birth of her third child. One day, she finds a locket in her baby’s pushchair, but when she looks closer, she recognizes it as the one her foster-sister Freya had been wearing when she died. The find brings back haunting memories of Kelly’s lonely childhood and she fears someone from her past wants to harm her family. Slowly but surely, her well-ordered life begins to unravel
4Q: Please share a childhood anecdote or memory.
|Photo Credit: Annette Batista Day - Unsplash.|
WC: Whenever I’m asked this, a particular one comes to mind from when I was about six years old. Each year, the town where I lived had a fete which, along with coconut stalls and a dog show, held a fancy-dress competition for the children. In the past, I’d never come close to winning but this year my mum had made a big effort with my costume. I was a mermaid complete with shell headdress and a green tail covered with silver milk bottle tops. I felt a million dollars. What’s more, the judge was the current ‘Miss World’ which, for a child in those days, was the equivalent of meeting a Disney princess. When I won and received a kiss on the cheek from this beautiful lady along with my rosette, I couldn’t have been happier.
4Q: Please tell us about your writing habits and do you have a “special place” to write?
WC: Every January 1st, I tell myself I will have a proper writing schedule and a serious ‘writerly’ place to produce my work. Every year I fail. Basically, I’m a writing nomad. I write in the living room, in the conservatory and on the swing chair in my garden. Anywhere except in the ‘writing room’ my husband lovingly created for me. The same goes for my writing habits. I sometimes write in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon but never at a regular or set time.
4Q: Anything else you would like to add?
WC: I would just like to thank you for inviting me onto your lovely blog and to leave your readers with this message. If you believe in your writing, don’t give up… You just need to find that one person who believes in you.
An Excerpt from What She Saw.
(Copyright held by the author. Used with permission)
“Beautiful day, isn’t it.”
Graham leans his back against the shelves of cigarettes and nods across the small parking area towards the distant peaks. I hear the soft click-click of the window vent as it turns and notice the way the sun streams through the window, picking out the cracks in the wooden counter.
“It is lovely, yes.”
“Scott out today?” He scratches the side of his cheek, his fingers rasping on the whiskers that grow there. His weekend stubble he calls it, even though the weekend is yet to begin.
“He’s taking a party of four out to Castle Crag this afternoon. The nearer it gets to Easter, the busier he’ll be.”
“Well, it’s certainly the perfect day for walking.”
I wonder if Graham Hargreaves ever walks. I doubt it. Like many of the people who have lived in the Lakes all their lives, a walk to him is a Sunday afternoon stroll along the flat path beside the River Brathay. The people Scott takes out are tourists seduced by pictures in the cottage brochures of majestic peaks and sky-blue tarns, the clouds reflected in their mirrored surface. I don’t say any of this to Graham, just check my list.
“Hold on a sec. I’ve forgotten the frozen sweetcorn.”
Leaving the basket, I walk to the tall freezer cabinet and as I do, the bell above the door tinkles, making me turn. A young woman backs into the shop, struggling to drag a pushchair over the threshold but, as the wheels get stuck on the step, Graham lifts the flap of the counter and comes to her rescue. Shouldering the door to keep it open, he grasps the front wheels of the buggy with his free hand and lifts it over. I hear the woman thank him. She’s not from round here – I can tell by her accent. Her back is to me, but I can’t stop staring at her long dark hair. It’s like a magnet to me.
Dragging my eyes away, I reach out a hand to pull open the freezer door. I hear the woman’s footsteps in the aisle and that’s when it happens. In one heart-stopping moment, Ria’s face is reflected in the glass – just as I remember it. She’s standing behind me, her dark hair falling to her shoulders, her eyes wide in terror. The shock is like a fist to my stomach.
Instinctively I turn but the young woman has moved away and all I can see is Graham Hargreaves rooting around in a basket of discount DVDs. When I look back at the glass door, Ria’s face has gone but the feeling I had when I saw her hasn’t. My hand is still raised to the door and I see it’s shaking. I stare at it as though it belongs to someone else. With a great effort, I try to still my racing heart but instead of lessening the feelings become stronger.
“Are you all right, Leona?”
Graham is by my side but it’s as if his voice is coming to me through a fog. I want to answer him, but I can’t. I feel light-headed and disembodied, as if at any moment I might float away. My fingers close around the handle of the freezer cabinet and I’m scared to let go.
“Is something wrong?”
The sense of terror I feel is debilitating. I’m unable to move, the nerves and muscles of my body unable to respond to the messages my brain is sending to them. Graham Hargreaves has his arm around me. He’s saying something else, but I can’t hear his words.
The young woman is there too now, standing beside Graham, unsure what to do. Now she’s closer, I see she’s nothing like Ria. How could she be?
Thank you, Wendy, for being our guest author this week. Your story sounds captivating.
For you readers wanting more info on Wendy and her stories, please follow these links:
What She Saw Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/What-She-Saw-psychological-heart-pounding-ebook/dp/B07N8YGN5B
We were Sisters Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/We-Were-Sisters-absolutely-psychological-ebook/dp/B07RSB413T
Twitter: https://twitter.com/wendyclarke99Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wendyclarke99/