This was the top viewed Smorgasbord Open House in 2016 for the interview with author Claire Fullerton.
My guest today is Claire Fullerton author of Dancing to an Irish Reel which is set in Connemara, Ireland and A Portal in Time, a paranormal mystery across two time periods, set on California’s Monterey Peninsula in the famous village of Carmel-on-Sea, both published by Vinspire Publishing.
Claire is a three- time award winning essayist, a former newspaper columnist, a contributor to magazines including Celtic Life International and Southern Writers Magazine. She is a five-time contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series and can be found on Goodreads as well as the website under her name. She is currently working on her third novel and you can find out more about that later in the post.
First a look at Claire’s books beginning with her latest release in 2015, the wonderfully titled Dancing to an Irish Reel set in Connemara.
About the book.
On sabbatical from her job in the LA record business, Hailey takes a trip to Ireland for the vacation of a lifetime. What she finds is a job offer too good to turn down.
Her new job comes with one major complication—Liam Hennessey. He’s a famous Irish musician whose entire live has revolved around performing. And Hailey falls in love with him. Although Liam’s not so sure love is in the cards for him, he’s not willing to push her away completely.
And so begins Hailey’s journey to a colorful land that changes her life, unites her with friends more colorful than the Irish landscape, and gives her a chance at happiness she’s never found before.
Some of the many reviews for the book also now in audio.
Direct Links to Purchase “Dancing to an Irish Reel”
Now a look at A Portal in Time released in November 2013.
When we are inexplicably drawn to love and a particular place, is it coincidence, or have we loved before?
Enigmatic and spirited Anna Lucera is gifted with an uncanny sixth-sense and is intrigued by all things mystical. When her green, cat-eyes and long, black hair capture the attention of a young lawyer named Kevin Townsend, a romance ensues which leads them to the hauntingly beautiful region of California’s Carmel-By-The-Sea where Anna is intuitively drawn to the Madiera Hotel. Everything about the hotel and Carmel-By-The-Sea heightens her senses and speaks to Anna as if she had been there before. As Anna’s memory unravels the puzzle, she is drawn into a past that’s eerily familiar and a life she just may have lived before.
Claire has received some great reviews for this book.
Direct link on Amazon to buy A Portal in Time. Amazon
Claire’s Essays on her website.
If you click on the link to Claire’s website you will not only find out more information on her writing in general but some wonderful published essays. She feels a deep connection to Ireland and this is evident in her essay Irish Connections. Irish Connections
Whilst you browse all her essays I also recommend that you read Carmel. Claire has a personal connection to Carmel as she spent her honeymoon there and she returned on her first anniversary. This essay was published in the Carmel Living Magazine. Claire and her husband spent part of their time after this and the history and atmosphere of the town provided the inspiration for her first novel A Portal in Time. Having stayed their one weekend myself I can also recommend that you visit if you are on the west coast. Delightful place with a huge amount of places of historical interest and charm; perfect setting for a book.
Before we move onto Claire’s interview questions, here is how she describes herself and her Southern upbringing in a previous interview last year. Sunday Lunch
‘I grew up in the Deep South, that part of the US that many consider the last romantic place in America. And it is; the region has its own culture that is so steeped in tradition, it seems that time has stood still. At the heart of the ways and means of the South is an iron-clad code of manners handed down at birth. It is an imperative code of civility that is society’s glue, and there is no more egregious error one can commit than to display bad manners.
When people talk about Southern hospitality, what they’re talking about is how a Southerner will treat a guest, even if that guest is only someone a Southerner accidently brushes up against while walking down the street. The most salient characteristic of Southern hospitality is the ability to extend oneself, which means putting another first, to focus such a high beam of gregarious concern that anyone caught in the headlight will think they’re the most important soul on earth. But you have to be born into the South to know this, for the guidelines of Southern ways are taught through the power of example, wrought through simply observing the glittering Southern people that come before you, who never lower themselves to a gauche confession of their inner-workings, but prefer to walk the line of implication instead in a “show-don’t tell” manner. It is a way of being in the world that is confident enough in its own animal grace to know the unspoken influence of its own attraction’.
So welcome Claire and delighted that you could drop by this morning… Over to you.
What genre do you read and your favourite authors?
My idea of heaven is to immerse myself in the works of contemporary Southern writers, especially when they write in the first person.
Three authors stand out for me: Pat Conroy, Ann Rivers Siddons and Donna Tartt. I am in awe of these writers and could ace a blind test wherein I was given a sentence by each and asked to name who wrote it. All three are considered Southern writers by virtue of the fact that they were born in the American South, and I’ve been pondering this term of late because I am a writer who hails from Memphis, Tennessee.
Not to get off point by digression, but my first two novels have nothing to do with the South, yet my third is set in Memphis and thematically about the repercussions of the culture. This has led me to ponder what it truly means to be a Southern writer. One hears this categorization bantered about, and it does evoke classification that has to do with regional setting, but to me, it is so much more. When a writer hails from the South, they cannot help but carry a certain frame of reference from which they view and interact with the world. This frame of reference is unknown to outsiders and therefore often misunderstood. I say this because I am now a transplanted Southerner living in California. I am well aware that the accent I wield invites assumption.
People “out here,” as any Southerner would label a region north of the Mason Dixon line, think the South is more back woods than it actually is. They don’t know that the South maintains a soft gentility passed down in families, that there is an iron-clad code of civility, and that there is nothing more unforgivable than bad manners. I’ve heard it said that the South is the last romantic place in America, and I believe it to be so. The romance hangs in the air with Southern humidity and informs everything from the way people move to their speech. I have had the great largess of growing up with many a flamboyant Southerner in my immediate circumference.
I will generalize here for the sake of clear explanation by saying those that affected my childhood were proud Southerners intent on perpetuating the social mores of the South, whose heart maintains the love of story. Southerners are a long winded lot, intent on detail and incapable of making any point without offering fifteen minutes of background. But they are bright, upbeat creatures who exist in packs and feel a moral obligation to entertain both literally and figuratively. In the South, great importance is placed on connections, which includes familial lineage, ties to the land, and the jury of one’s peers. They are ever mindful of the value of relationships and measure themselves in relation to one another.
This constitutes a certain regional consciousness and gives rise to a tacit, cultural paradigm that eludes the casual observer. What outsiders don’t know about Southerners is that they are in love with the peculiarities of being Southern, and will defend their Southerness to the hilt. All three of the authors I have mentioned know well of these Southern eccentricities, and it flavours their writing. All three are masters of lyrical language and are sensitive to and sing praises of the nuances of the South.
Which book in your opinion is the best you have ever read and why?
Hands down, Pat Conroy’s “The Prince of Tides.” It’s first two sentences read, “My wound is my geography. It is my anchorage, my port of call.” We’ve all read brilliant writers, but what gets me about Conroy is he takes a knife to the soul and can open up unhealed, dormant wounds that we all carry ( of this I am convinced) and explains them to us through the love of words and story. In the two sentences I have quoted above, he covers everything about what it means to be a product of a family born to a region that defines you and explains everything about who you are. “The Prince of Tides” is the ultimate “sins of the father” story, whose theme of cause and effect perpetrated within the family draws the lines of each character and shapes the course of each of their life.
But it is Conroy’s lyrical use of language throughout the book that sets the mood of the story. It is languid, sonorous, and fluid in a way that is commiserate with the tides of South Carolina’s low country, which is the setting of the book. Not content with economy of language, Pat Conroy takes the reader into the undertow of this family saga and invites them to fend for themselves through the story’s ebb and flow, until they are cast upon the shore panting for breath. This book blew my world wide open. It showed me what is possible with the written word.
What kind of music do you listen to and who are your favourite musicians?
Sally, you’re a woman after my own heart with this question! Here we go: being raised in Memphis, which is literally “The home of the Blues” and having had the good fortune of growing up with a brother named Haines, who was eighteen months older than me, and who picked up a guitar at the age of eight and never put it down, music was the only thing I ever cared about for the first twenty some-odd years of my life! I came into the world that The Beatles defined, and lived in the region that was the hot seat of the impetus of that definition! By this, I mean Elvis Presley. Elvis took the Delta Blues and created Rock-n-Roll, and The Beatles took Rock-n-Roll and revolutionized it. It all came from Memphis; The Beatles knew this, The Rolling Stones knew this, and to one degree or another, contemporary music has Memphis to thank.
I’m a fan of “Pop music” and could keep you here all day naming names. Instead, I’ll tell you I spent nine years as a music radio DJ in Memphis; that I worked in the music business in Los Angeles discovering bands that went on to “make it big” and will now mention that my brother, Haines, was instrumental in the formative years of The Dave Matthews Band.
Okay, let me give you the respect of answering your question and name a few names: The Beatles, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Crowded House, Neil Finn solo, Toad the Wet Sprocket, anything Glen Phillips does, who could not see the merits in U2, Cold Play is not actually the U2 rip-off many proclaim them to be, Ed Sheeran thrills me; don’t judge me, but I’m a fan of Country Music; Keith Urban comes to mind; I’m in love with Mike Scott and love The Waterboys, as well as Karl Wallinger (you’re in the know if you know their connection.) Lastly, I applaud Irish traditional music; it speaks to my genetic lineage, and I’ll now say that if you don’t have a copy of “A Place among the Stones” by Davy Spillane, then you’re at a complete disadvantage.
Buy A Place Amongst the Stones – A place amongst the stones
What are the top five experiences or activities that you feel that everyone should complete in their lifetime?
I’ll provide a list here in no order of importance.
- Move to a foreign country and stay. Submerge yourself in the culture until it makes you forget where you came from.
- Study dance and incorporate it into your way of being in the world.
- Share your life with a dog. Love it, tend to it, be responsible for it, let it love you, and you will know the nature of unconditional love.
- Arrive at a clear idea of how to be of service to others. Identify your peculiar, individual gifts that you came into the world carrying, and get about the business of using them to the benefit of others.
- Stay connected to God as you know Him, which means cultivate a daily spiritual practice that’ll lend itself to daily renewal, humility, hope, faith, and a healthy perspective.
Tell us about your work in progress, plans for your blog in the next year any special events that are coming up that are very special to you.
I recently completed my third novel, which is a Southern family saga set in 1970’s and 1980’s Memphis. Its title is “Mourning Dove,” and it is written in the first person voice of Millie Crossan, as she tells about growing up with her brother, Finley, in their mother’s genteel world, where all that glitters is not gold.
I wanted to tell a family story set in post-civil- rights Memphis that depicts the opulent South, where the region is changing, yet a certain sect of society still clings to old world manner and form, even in the face of tragedy. The themes in “Mourning Dove” are a search for place, a search for identity, and ultimately a search for God. It was my aim to capture the era in which I grew up. Much has changed now, as has the world, but I was well aware of the uniqueness of the Memphis I was born into while I grew up; I found it beautiful and very specifically civilized, yet in a cloistered way.
And as life is life no matter where you set it, how people handle life’s vagaries is often dictated by social customs, and the adherence of those customs colors the experience. Currently, the book is under review.
My thanks to Claire for providing us with an insight into her life and what inspires her to right. Also a big thank you for suggesting we listen to the beautiful Celtic music of Davy Spillane.
Find details and buy links to Claire’s books via her website and of course the usual online bookstores including: Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Claire-Fullerton/e/B00HRJEUJ4
Connect with Claire on her website and social media.
Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/clairefullertonauthor
Dancing to an Irish Reel – Facebook page: Link
Dancing to an Irish Reel -Google+ page:Link
Claire on Pinterest:Lin
Thank you for dropping by and it would be wonderful if you could sign the visitors book… and also before you leave spread the word about Claire Fullerton across your own networks.
If you would like to be a guest on Open House it is very straightforward.. here is the link that tells you about the interview and also has the questions that you can choose from.
Enjoy the day.. thanks Sally