I’m taking a break from the Lagos story to bring you the next in my interview series. Today’s winding narrative comes from Gail Cleare, whose love of writing has taken her from advertising to literature. We are excited to announce that her book, the USA Today bestseller The Taste of Air, has been just chosen for a Kindle deal at US$ 3.99 between 13-18 August 2018.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up, and why?
I wanted to write the books that were sold in the grocery store, with those pretty colorful covers. Seriously! I still have little construction paper books I made in first and second grade, written in crayon. When I was in fourth grade, the school literary magazine (usually reserved for older students) included a poem I wrote. That was my first real publication.
Describe your career journey.
I studied creative writing and studio art at Mount Holyoke College. Next, I went to the University of Massachusetts School of Education to get a graduate degree, but after a year of being out in the world doing student teaching, I didn’t want to go back to UMass and take more classes. I planned to take a break and return later. Instead, I met my husband and got married, took a job at the local newspaper, and ended up in advertising. I loved being able to write and design – using both of my favorite skills. This led to several corporate jobs in marketing, copy writing and graphic design, and then to my own ad agency, Cleare Communications. When my three sons hit their teens, I sold the business and started working freelance from home. It seemed like a good idea to be around after school to see what was happening! When the first two were off to college I started writing fiction and poetry again. In 2010, I wrote my first novel.
Tell me about your first novel, Destined.
I drafted Destined, a novel of the Tarot, in five weeks, sitting in bed with my coffee every morning. It poured out of me.
I didn’t have to research much because I know a lot about the Tarot. My story is built around the 22 Higher Arcane cards, which describe a step-by-step journey toward enlightenment. The first card, The Fool, is number 0 while the entire process is known as “The Fool’s Journey.”
My book starts with chapter 0 and tells Emily’s story, a young woman on a path to spiritual growth. It shows how the Tarot’s lessons manifest in her everyday life.
I rewrote it a few times while I looked fruitlessly for an agent, then I joined an online authors’ website called Authonomy, where, I met a lot of wonderful writers who coached me. Unfortunately, it is now defunct. I started an online critique group for women’s fiction, which is still alive and well on Facebook (and is where I met Andrea.) I self-published Destined and gave away a lot of very cheap copies, then I wrote The Taste of Air.
How did The Taste of Air differ from the first book?
The Taste of Air is contemporary women’s fiction. Two sisters find out their mother has been hiding a secret life for over forty years. When she turns up in a hospital in Vermont, many miles from home, they discover she has a lakeside cottage in the little town of Hartland, Vermont, and a set of complex relationships with people they have never met. As the sisters delve further into her past, they question their own lives and decisions. The trail of secrets goes all the way back to the 1960’s, when their parents were stationed in Vietnam during the war.
I used three voices to paint the three women. Two timelines weave back and forth, ultimately coming together. It’s complicated, but it keeps the mystery going. It was fun to write scenes from the past full of clues without giving it all away too soon. I’m working on the sequel now.
Can you give us some hints about your soon-to-be-published third book?
Love & Chocolate is the first installment of a romance trilogy. When Sarah Westwood’s deadbeat husband deserts her and their young son, she takes a job at her family’s restaurant, The Three Chocolatiers, working with her famous chef grandfather and her pastry chef cousin, Paisley. Determined never to fall for the wrong guy again, Sarah vows to stick to chocolate and steer clear of men, especially her delicious ice-cream supplier, Blake Harrison. But when Paisley signs her up for a dating site, Sarah is soon engaging in a sexy online flirtation with a stranger.
Blake Harrison wants nothing more than for Sarah to give him a chance, but all she’ll give him is the cold shoulder. Never one to run from a challenge, he works on becoming the kind of man Sarah can’t refuse. And since he just happens to be on the same dating site, he’s not above using a little cyber-intel to worm his way into her heart.
When Sarah’s grandfather collapses just weeks before an upscale chocolate-themed wedding that could make or break the business, the staff of The Three Chocolatiers is sent into a tailspin. With the pressure rising on personal and professional fronts, Sarah might just have to let someone sweet melt her defenses.
This classic romantic comedy is enhanced with four original chocolate recipes, which will also appear in the companion piece to the series – The Three Chocolatiers Cookbook.
I have at least five more books running around in my head right now, so writing is definitely my immediate goal. I am interested in converting some of them to film or TV, something I’m investigating. We’ll see what happens!
Her books are available on all English language Amazon sites.