Sunday, 15 March 2015

Meet my guest Wendy Clarke

Wendy Clarke, has had phenomenal success in getting short stories published in the notoriously difficult area of women’s magazines. Recently I read a collection of her short stories, ‘Room In My Heart,’ and was blown away by the scope of subjects she covered. I was particularly struck by one called ‘The Courting Cake’ which was set in the Lancashire town of Chorley, a town I’m familiar with. Somehow she’d managed to convey the Lancashire-ness of it even down to mentioning a dance hall that I used to patronise when I was younger! When I asked her if she knew the said dance hall, she admitted she didn’t but had done her research. That’s what I call dedication.

She now has a new collection of short stories out, ‘The Last Rose,’ and to celebrate its launch, I asked her to describe how she’d first come to write, what inspires her to write, how long it takes her to write a story and, as she’s now writing her first novel under the auspices of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers Scheme, how it will affect her short story writing. Here’s what she had to say.

At school, English was always my favourite subject. Being pretty much a dunce at anything bordering on scientific or mathematical, I would look forward to these lessons and find my shoulders relaxing when I walked through the classroom door.
              I met my old English teacher last year. He’s over eighty now and it was the first time I had seen him since school. He asked me what I was doing with myself. “I’m a writer,” I said, surprised he remembered me. It was the first time I had been confident enough to say these words but I had just sold my hundredth magazine story and felt that I had earned the right!
              “Now why doesn’t that surprise me?” he said.
              I can’t describe how wonderful it was to hear him say that, for I had always looked up to him as a writer and a teacher. It was all the more pleasing because just three years earlier, I had heard the sad news that the school I was teaching in was closing and that I no longer had a job. His words gave me faith in my career change.
              Having not written anything, except exam papers, school reports and lesson plans, since leaving school, this new path had been an unexpected one. The memory of those English lessons where I had created the stories and poems that I loved, must have stayed with me, though, for when my brother suggested I try the online writing course he had just completed, I jumped at the chance. I loved it and went on to do a second.
              After the course ended, I carried on writing and started sending stories to women’s magazines. To my surprise, I had my first acceptance quite soon, quickly followed by sales to two other magazines. A few weeks later, my first story was published, complete with illustration. I was thrilled but not only that... I was hooked! In fact I’ve been writing short stories ever since.
              I’m often asked where I get my inspiration from and I would say all over. I read papers, I listen to the news, I watch the adverts, I eavesdrop on peoples conversations and I keep my eyes open. Sometimes I feel like a spy! A story can take anything from two hours to two days to write – it depends on the length and how inspired I feel. Historical stories take longer because of the research.
              My success as a short story writer is in large part down to my tenacity. I’m a great believer in setting goals and achieving them. In the early days I would say to myself, ‘I will not stop trying until I have had a story accepted by this magazine.’ Later the goals became, ‘I will have a serial accepted’, then ‘I will have an article published.’
              Once these goals were achieved, I realised there was one final one left – to write a novel. Having decided the genre would be romance, I joined the Romantic Novelist Association’s New Writers’ Scheme in January of this year and I would like to say that I am forging ahead with it... only I’m not. The reason for this is because I can’t shake off my love of the short story, so I am doing both.
              I have also just put together and published my second collection of short stories, The Last Rose which has taken up time. My writing friend Tracy Fells would say it’s all procrastination... but I call it trying to do everything I love!

That was fascinating, Wendy, especially the bit about meeting your old English teacher. Many congratulations on your success – and the best of luck with writing your novel. 

Here are the details of Wendy’s book Wendy has a terrific blog if you’d care to take a look here


  1. Thank you very much for having me on your lovely blog, Anne.

    1. I thought I'd replied to this once, Wendy, but it seems to have disappeared! The wonders of cyberspace! I can honestly say it was a pleasure having you as a guest. Such an interesting post.

  2. I really enjoyed reading your interview - and what a tremendous achievement getting all those short stories published! (I have managed a total of five.)

    1. Glad you enjoyed the blog, Jennifer. Wendy and I enjoyed doing it.

    2. Every new one published is exciting - I'm sure you'll get another one soon, Jennifer.

  3. Wonderful. I love short stories and writing them is such a challenge, but a fun one. I would love to bump into my old English master, I would love to know what he thought I'd make of myself. Continued success Wendy, and thanks Anne, enjoyed this not end. :)

  4. I commented and it vanished so apologies if it shows up twice. I enjoy short stories and writing them too - such a challenge. I wonder what my old English master would say if we met...I wonder if he ever thought about our futures actually. He was an ex actor so who knows! Continued success Wendy and thanks so much Anne, wonderful. :)

  5. Both messages came up, Jane, but I've only published one. Glad you enjoyed the blog. Wendy's inspirational, isn't she?