Clare Fisher – Q&A

Today I’m pleased to welcome Clare Fisher to the blog. Clare’s debut novel, All the Good Things is published by Viking on 1 June 2017

Clare kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about All the Good Things. 

Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve ever to feel good again.
But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.
But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

2. What inspired the book?

I’ve always been drawn to those parts of life and of ourselves that don’t usually get heard, and Beth’s story allowed me to delve into lots of untrodden psychological and social ground in this respect. Growing up in south London and then working in schools, I saw just what a gulf there was between the variety of lived experience and what is depicted in books and other mainstream media. But this book didn’t really begin until Beth’s voice came to me one night and refused to let me go. 

3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel? 

I like to have a general idea of where I’m aiming for, but I find that if I plan in too much detail, the writing falls flat. The best and more surprising things come from the writing itself. That said, to reach a novel that’s anything like ‘completed’ you need to switch between creative immersion and critical distance many, many times; I used to hate doing this but actually found it really satisfying with this novel.

4. Having gone through the process is there anything about creating a novel that surprised you?

I still can’t quite believe I finished it! On bad days, it’s almost as if another person wrote it. I guess the biggest surprise was how important it was just to trust the process — it sounds corny, but if you don’t believe something will happen, it won’t. Believing it doesn’t guarantee it will, but it makes it possible. 

5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

I wish I was better at relaxing! I find exercise really calms me down — I run, swim and do yoga a LOT, often with friends. I also like exploring new places to eat, drink and generally have fun with friends and family. And if there’s peanut butter involved, I’m sold. 

6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

Impossible question! Perhaps The Collected Stories of Lorrie Moore? Or Lydia Davis? Or Alice Munro? 

7. I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer? 

No one has asked me which fictional character I’d like to be. As a kid, the answer would have been Mary from The Secret Garden. Right now I would say any of the narrators from Leonora Carrington’s stories, which I’m reading at the moment; although they often undergo quite terrifying torments and transformations, they do get to go on some exciting adventures with talking horses and the like. And they have a enviable zest for life! 

About the book:

Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve ever to feel good again.
But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.
But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.
What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone – even a 100% bad person – deserve a chance to be good?
Read more on the Penguin website.

About the author:

Clare Sita Fisher was born in Tooting, south London in 1987. After accidentally getting obsessed with writing fiction when she should have been studying for a BA in History at the University of Oxford, Clare completed an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London. An avid observer of the diverse area of south London in which she grew up, Clare’s writing is inspired by her long-standing interest in social exclusion and the particular ways in which it affects vulnerable women and girls. All The Good Things is her first novel.

 

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