Today, I introduce you to Claire Meadows.
Claire is a really impressive woman. She’s the founder of After Nyne Magazine and an Ambassador for male suicide prevention charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably).
Not only that, Claire’s third collection of poetry – ‘To the Lions‘ – is available through Urbane Publications now. Wonder woman or what?!
You can follow Claire on Twitter.
Vic xThanks for being on the blog today, Claire. How did you get into writing?
I’ve always written… and had an affinity with the written word. Growing up I had a rich and varied inner landscape in my head that I was careful to suppress. I suppressed it for a variety of reasons – I guess the main one being that I felt like the world I created in my own head was preferable to the one in which I found myself. Living on a council estate from the age of 15 was a brutal lesson in survival. You can’t be soft or how weakness. The only way I could feel I could be myself truly was to write it down, to weave life into poetry like rope so it was strong enough to support me.
Tell us a bit about your current book ‘To the Lions‘. What’s it about? What inspired it? Where can we get it?
It’s a testament to the dark side of love. All kinds of love, your love for your parents, betrayal by your parents. Love for a lover who makes you ache with want, for tortured souls who find each other. You can create torture for each other or find the most splendid kind of bliss. Love for a best friend who you’d have gone to the ends of the earth for, whose departure from your life leaves a hole.
It’s probably my most personal collection yet. I had a lot of ghosts to lay to rest. Whether they’ll stay rested is another matter. You can get it direct from my publisher Urbane Publications or from Amazon. You can also get a signed one from my website.
And your upcoming release…
My collected works – Blood Season. I’m very excited about that one – my past three collections and thirteen new pieces. That will be out in May.
You’ve had a really rich and varied career, could you tell us about that?
Ten years ago I was working in Extradition Policy at the Home Office. I left to broaden my horizons in the private sector – three years in the Home Office had made me stale. My horizons were certainly broadened – a short tenure at an absolutely appalling property agency in Mayfair, and I ended up as the PA to the legal team at McDonald’s Europe.
Then I had a whopping big breakdown in 2009 and was hospitalised for nine weeks. A complete collapse. My husband told me I was to abandon working for the big egos and pursue something I truly loved. Such amazing support – I’ll forever be in his debt.
How do you manage to successfully juggle everything?
By having a stellar support cast – in particular my editor, Luciana, at After Nyne Magazine and the team that works with her. I’m tremendously lucky to have found someone I can rely on to that extent.
What about After Nyne? How did that get going?
It came out of my husband’s insistence to follow something I loved. In 2010 I started an artist’s agency, which gave me a real drive to push the work of rising artists alongside established ones. That company folded and I then started up our existing magazine Nyne as a blog, and then moved back into publishing as After Nyne in 2014. From June 2016 we’ll be selling out of 160 WH Smith stores up and down the country. It’s been a long road but we’re getting there slowly.
You’ve caught me out, Vic – I should be able to say ‘this and that’ but I actually have nothing in the pipeline at the moment with regards to writing. I was asked by a publisher to write a self-help book based on my journey but with everything else going on it’s been sidelined. I’ll keep you updated.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Persevere. It took me ten years from starting work on my first collection Gold After to finding my darling publisher Urbane. It forced me to be the very best poet I could be. For the majority of us who are not related to someone very famous there are no easy routes. So hunker down and stick with it. And find a good role model, one that will keep you sane when you want to drown in gin.
What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you when you started writing?
That you’ll have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince of a publisher. And all that agony… it’s going to be very useful to you.
What’s the one story/poem you wish you’d written?
Wolf Hall. Hands down. What else is like it?
Do you have any writing idols?
Truth tellers, visionaries, and Jackie Collins.