Earlier this week, the Random House AuthorsPlace website hosted a virtual chat between Tim Clare, author of We Can’t All be Astronauts and the Epson Library Reading Group. We have pulled out a few of the questions and answers below, but for the full Q&A, visit the AuthorsPlace website.
Epsom Library Reading Group: What was the ‘light bulb’ moment when you decided to leave the fantasy writing world, and write about your adventures in publishing? Was it the comments your mates made?
Tim Clare: I’d very tentatively started to do bits and pieces on stage - stand-up poetry, mostly - mainly because I was able to write something in the day then try it out that night. Writing a novel can be a pretty lonely business - you can work on it for literally years and still have nothing ready to show other people. By contrast, when you write for performance you can get a payoff very quickly.
Obviously fantasy doesn’t translate particularly well to performance poetry! And I found that, because it was me talking on stage, I was ending up making more and more stuff first-person. So I suppose there was a transition that I wasn’t aware of, because I was delivering it all live. Then one day I sat down and started writing it as prose, as if I was just chatting to a crowd of strangers. Suddenly, what had seemed immensely personal and cringeworthy no longer felt that way, because I was used to basically being very open on stage!
ELRG: Your family seem amazing - very supportive - (accept maybe when your Dad wanted to join in your suicide pact!!) your Pa particularly seemed to have an eventful life, - were his three books published? You mention in your book that he said he felt he had to write it - the publishing wasn’t important.
TC: None of his books were published, no. He sent them out to various publishers but I think, like many people in his position, he didn’t really have much of an idea of who to send them to or how to present his work. I think his book of short philosophical essays aimed at sixth formers, Thought Starters, was the one he particularly would have liked to have seen in print. Which seems odd to me… I always expected it would be his memoir about getting over cancer and losing his voice, No Island All My Own, which seems much more personal. But I guess the philosophy was what he felt he wanted to share the most. That love of learning.
I think actually he was a bit more disappointed than he let on that he never got published - I know it would have meant a lot to him.
I’m glad you think my family are amazing. I think so too. They’re lovely people and I’m exceedingly jammy to have them!
ELRG: Did you had a launch party? Did you feel differently about launch parties after you were in print. (thinking about how you dreaded your friends launch parties)
TC: My London launch party [hosted by the Book Club Boutique] was one of the most wonderfully self-indulgent nights of my life. Joe, Ross and Steve Aylett all came and did readings, my parents were there, old school friends I hadn’t seen for years, people who appear in the book… We all chatted and had drinks and I felt like the blushing bride. It was GREAT and I felt super super grateful! (although I was pretty hungover the next morning)
So yes, it did make me feel rather different about launches!
ELRG: If you had to “review”/promote your book in not 200 words, but 140 characters, what would your message be? You may know what I’m aiming at…
TC: Buy ‘We Can’t All Be Astronauts‘ - the book critics are already calling ‘whining’, ‘navel-gazing’ and ’self-indulgent’. Please.