Author Limelight: Charmaine Clancy, Author of Mystery, Adventure and Fantasy…

Hello Charmaine Clancy and welcome to Author’s Limelight! Congratulations on the recent release of  Dognapped: A Dog Show Detective Mystery.

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What was the first story you ever wrote?

We tell stories from the first moment we can talk, even if it’s in garbled baby-talk, and we start writing stories from the time we scribbled a green crayon swirl and call it an elephant. However, it was my first real failures at novels that led me to really study the craft. The first novel I finished writing was Dognapped? A Dog Show Detective Mystery, which turned out to be my second book published.

Of all the individuals you have created, do you have a particular favourite? What appeals to you the most about this character?

Dogs are always winners with me, and they often appear the most animated in my novels, however I do have one brash little pirate girl who is very impatient about getting her story finished at the moment.

Has being published changed you at all? If so, how?

I’d like to say it’s made me smarter, more market savvy, or even taller, but really, it’s just made me busier. I will say that publishing that first book, and receiving positive feedback, is a great way to finally feel like you just might be on the right path.

What would we find on your bookshelf / e-reader?

My life savings. There are enough books on my shelf to last several decades (if the zombie apocalypse hits, I’ll be set… unless I need food and water), and ebooks on my Kindle to last several lifetimes (I guess there’s nothing stopping me moving to Mars now).

The books I keep are always fast paced, deeply engaging and often funny. Terry Pratchett takes up a fair bit of space, but he’s earned it.

What’s the most unappealing thing you’ve ever eaten?

Eggplant. And I don’t buy that whole ‘acquired taste’ rubbish. I can easily say, ‘Here, try this crispy bacon, or this chocolate mud-cake thick with icing!’ Good-tasting food doesn’t require perseverance.

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If you could be any of the following characters for one day, who would you be and why? How would you re-write the ending?

 a) Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind.

b) Thelma or Louise from Thelma and Louise.

c) Princess Leia from Starwars.

d) Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffanys.

I think I may have gone through a selfish stage in my teenage years where I was a bit too much like Scarlett and Holly, and I don’t think I could pull it off anymore. Princess Leia is a pretty good role model, although I think I’m too lazy to keep up her save-the-universe schedule and although there are days (luckily not too often), where I could encourage Louise to just keep driving us over that cliff, most of the time I’m pretty optimistic. Ooh, I’d be the cat in Breakfast at Tiffanys!

Of all the books in history, which do you wish you wrote and why?

The Book Thief is my idea of literary perfection and something I know I could never reproduce. On a smaller level, every time I get an idea for a novel, Jackie French has already written it.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

Invisibility, just so I could take naps without anyone noticing.

If you could go back in time, where would you go and when? What is one thing you would want to take with you?

I love all things 40’s and 50’s, I would go back in time to meet Agatha Christie and I’d bring a magnify glass with hopes to solve a murder mystery. Or maybe I’d just take post-it notes and pretend I invented them.

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Can you tell us about your works in progress?

I work on multiple projects at once, but at the moment, my attention is on Warracknabeal (a title that will probably go before production). It’s a story that looks at belonging and isolation from within the family to community and even on a national level. My protagonist is 13 year old Harry, son of the local copper in a small country town in Victoria. The year is 1939 and Harry’s childhood is about to be shattered. He will uncover family secrets, sinister acts and even a body. Suspicion is passed on like chinese whispers when the local racetrack clubhouse burns down. Harry must decide who to trust and follow a dangerous path of clues to rescue the one person he cares about most. These events are set against the backdrop of fires about to burn through Victoria like none before and none since, along with the lingering fear of an inevitable war.

This project is a lot darker than my usual goofy stories for kids!

Sarah says – I have had the privilege of meeting Harry and his GrandPa on paper and must say that I just loved the little bit I saw. I can’t wait to read this when it’s released! 

Finally, can you give us a sneaky excerpt from Warracknabeal, please?

Here’s a snippet from a significant scene – it’s still a first draft, so no doubt it will change drastically as it’s reworked:

Remembering the stories from the Penny Mysteries, Harry decided he was looking for ‘the spot where the fire initiated: burst gas pipes, heaters that may have been left on, empty fuel cans, clumps of rags, or anything smelling of lighter fluid.’

His attention was drawn to a large sheet of collapsed roofing. He moved closer to the iron sheeting and not worrying about keeping his clothes clean, he crouched down and grabbed hold of one edge. It was still warm. He pulled hard, but it proved to be quite heavy. Trying a different tactic, he stood above the sheet and tried to raise one side, hoping to flip it.

Dusting off his hands, he scanned the room. He’d give the roofing one more go and then he’d leave. That copper wouldn’t be far away now. He crouched down low, got both hands under one edge of the iron and heaved. It did the trick, too well. The iron sheeting flipped over, sending Harry sprawling. He pulled himself up to a crawling position and stared, stunned and disgusted, at his find. Laying beneath him was a partially burned body, the young woman’s blackened face stared vacantly back at him. Amazingly, perhaps because it had been protected by the iron, her strawberry blonde hair that he remembered so well, was mostly not singed. In one charred hand, the corpse clutched a his grandfather’s favourite silver lighter.

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Thanks Sarah for having me on your blog today!

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