#YourNextBeachRead is a way to introduce you to a new author and their works in the hopes that you’ll find the next book you want to take with you to the beach, the pool, or the comforts of air conditioning.
Today’s featured author is Felecia Clarke, author of Are You Ready.
What’s your name and where are you from?
Felecia Clarke. I grew up in Connecticut, have lived in Colorado and Arizona and currently reside in South Florida.
How long have you been writing? How did you start?
I’ve been writing since I was about eight years old. My first “published” work was the Clarke Family Chronicles where I produced a page-long newspaper for my family about what we just did that week. Very important material! I continued to write creative fiction, poetry, and for the school newspaper throughout my youth. After school I tumbled into business which focused my attention on business-type writing which left me little time to write creatively.
Who are some of your influences?
Stephen King – even though I will probably never write a horror thriller, he’s just such a consummate writer. Jonathan Carroll who writes brilliant fantasy. Tony Hillerman who wrote mystery/detective fiction surrounding the Navajo Nation. Daniel Silva – superior spy and espionage writer.
What is your book about?
Are You Ready is a spiritual coming-of-age memoir about how, at a mid-point in my life, I could look back and see how God had always been with me, always asking me if I was ready to turn to Him, regardless of how “bad” I’d been or how badly I’d messed up in life.
Where did you get the idea?
Actually, I was in a deep prayer session when I started journaling and wrote, “You will write books that will bring people to Jesus.” I chewed on that for several years before I began to outline the story. So many people are afraid they’re not “good enough” for God or worried that they have to “get cleaned up” before they come to Him. He wants you just as you are. It took me too long to figure that out.
How long did it take you to finish it?
Years! I started the manuscript during a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month-November) and got a little over 50,000 words down before I was diagnosed with cancer. The treatment that followed had my pen down for over 2 years before I was able to resume.
Is this your first book, or have you written more than one?
Are You Ready is my first book. I’m currently working on a women’s fiction mystery.
We all like to write about people we know, even if we never name them. Who are some people who inspired characters or situations?
Well, since Are You Ready is a memoir, it is about me and people I know. Some are named and other names and identifying characteristics have been changed. In the next book, the protagonist is loosely based on me (an HR professional) but the bad guys are based on bad characters I’ve worked with and detested immensely. You know that saying Don’t piss me off or you might end up in my book? It’s true!
What’s your favorite scene in the book?
I’ve got many because it’s my life but the first one that came to mind was when I was living in Arizona and had lost everything. I was so wrapped up in the hate I had for my former boss because he’d let me go at the height of the economic downturn and I couldn’t find employment anywhere. My mind was stuck in what I call a “hamster wheel of hate” and it was tearing me up inside. I had walked so far away from God that I didn’t know if He even knew who I was but one day, I finally broke down and asked Him for help. To take the hate I had for my boss away. He ‘gave me’ a scripture verse that did just that. In the space of a few minutes I was released from the hatred I’d been harboring. At the same time my doorbell rang. I ran to the door to find a couple who had a little tract in their hand and wanted to talk to me about a different religion. I invited them in and with glee told them about the epiphany that just occurred in my living room. I probably sounded like a crazy person and, as they backed out of my door and down my walkway with their smiled still plastered to their faces, I followed them telling them about how good God was.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever got?
I forget who but someone once said, “Great writers are great readers.” Jane Friedman has also said (I’m paraphrasing) “Make reading in your genre as important as anything else you schedule in your day.” It really is that important to read and I would add: in and out of your genre.
What’s the worst?
“Avoid flashbacks like the plague.” Sometimes you need a flashback – or backstory – in order to dive more deeply into your main characters psyche. Just learn how to write it well. Don’t “info-dump” and don’t go on for pages and pages. Snore!
Where can we buy your book?
Currently available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.
Felecia realized her love of writing early in elementary school when she began writing, editing, and publishing the Clarke Family Chronicles reporting weekly family news of her family of four … to her family of four. After obtaining a BA in Mass Communication from the University of Denver and an MBA from the University of Phoenix, she spent years working in Human Resources management and writing professionally – marketing pieces, newsletters, annual business reports, and employee handbooks. Now she has returned to her true love, creative writing.
Felecia has been published in “Granola Bar Devotionals: Spiritual Snacks on the Go!” She also won Honorable Mention for her short story “A Matter of Conscience” in Two Letter Press’ 2014 Flash Card Fiction contest. Additionally, her short story “Downward Spiral” earned an Honorable Mention in the Short Story Challenge by NYCMidnight in 2015. “Are you Ready” is her debut book and is currently a semi-finalist in the RPLA.