In this episode Natalie Miller-Snell is joined by the fabulous Clare Ashton to take about books and boobs. We talk life before writing, why Clare is synonymous with boobs, After Mrs Hamilton (no spoilers) and she offers her fabulous advice for listeners to seize the day. She has some great anecdotes to tell.
I hope you enjoy the show!
Listen to this episode here
please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect.
[Music] you are listening to seize the day with Natalie Miller-Snell now during these podcasts we’ll be exploring all of the different opportunities that we get to seize the day on a daily basis and what tools and what changes we can make in order to grab those goals are you ready to make change hello hello hello podcast lovers how are you all it’s Thursday I’m Natalie and you are listening to seize the day now I’ve got another fabulous treat for you today I have a fabulous fantastic guest on she is an internationally successful indie author a golden crown literary society Goldie winner for her novel after mrs. Hamilton which we will talk about she’s a lambda and goldy finalist for her dark romantic comedy that certain something and she’s also won the rainbow ward for best lesbian contemporary and erotic romance there’s a mouthful for her novel puppy Jenkins which I understand has boobs in it I mean you know early mention of boobs in kitchen dining area and we live in Birmingham that’s right because do you and Kiki catch up a few times in fact I think is that how I got in contact with you so I was trying to think about this earlier I know definitely I spoke to you after after mrs. Hamilton which again we will talk about so I love that book what did I contact you before I was going to see you the diva literary festival oh that’s right yeah yeah yeah yeah if Sheamus works only the first one was amazing so I was really looking forward to it but yeah pity that didn’t come off no absolutely now quite an accolade they go through all of your I mean your novels have done so well so bullet five of them I believe at the moment yes Wow so let’s talk about you I think it’s a lot it’s Matt’s brilliant absolutely fantastic it’s well it’s kind of quite quite poor number actually prefer romance novelist I think neither a lot of them kind of putting out three-year and I’ve kind of I’m on like one every couple of years at the moment I feel a bit lazy pilot them here actually and they don’t look too bad so I’m not feeling as lazy as was that is good do you know why hats off to anybody that writes a book I think cuz you’re putting your heart and soul into those pages you know blood sweat and tears and all of the energy and the effort and the thought and part of you that goes into it and then you will let it out into the world I know that’s an incredible thing yeah well I’m a very kind of quiet quiet shy introvert quite private person and then I just put it all in a novel and send it out for anyone to see it’s just crazy so it is yes it’s a very sort of intuitive thing to do for me actually and the first two I wrote penance nothing mr. Hamilton I did write them not thinking anybody would read them so I just wrote them cuz I wanted to write stories and I didn’t really get as far as thinking well actually somebody’s killing things and especially after mrs. Hamilton is has some unexpected subject matters people react to in different ways so well glad I did write it before thinking somebody would read because I might have you know chickened out on some you know it’s fascinating I had Radcliffe on yesterday it’s gonna air in a couple of weeks and she said very much a similar similar comment in terms of the ease with writing she said you’ve almost got to not think about it just get that whole creative content down and then rework it in terms of a structure and you know editing it out but to your point because if you were to think too heavily about who’s going to read it and you start second-guessing yourself and then you would change that whole level of creativity and you wouldn’t get the I mean that book is fabulous I’ve got to tell you I loved everything about it I look I don’t want to spoil too much yeah yeah it’s not formula and it in less pickle romance sense is it how well did it do in that capacity because it doesn’t it doesn’t follow a formula it believed it probably breaks quite a few of the the rules so shall we say an inverted comment there’s a big list of rules it breaks and it gets ya wildly different reactions further for that reason either people really love that it’s different or they it’s a it’s quite entertaining in the way so how did you cope with the reaction that or how did you feel about the reactions when they come through putting something personal out like that particularly if it was perhaps a negative response then how how did cuz I’ll be brutally honest I loved everything about and I’ve already said that I love the subject matter that you cover which is taboo and I don’t want to say too much but I’m I feel positively about the end result however that might go and you and I’ve talked offline in terms of what you may or may not have done with that situation but I really really really made me think and it kind of made question my question my mind about what’s acceptable and what’s not and why isn’t that acceptable so how was it for you get in the reaction back from readers totally mixed it was there’s a very funny response as you there kind of I try not say too much about the book it’s tricky isn’t it well with any book actually it you do like you say you do put so much personal into even if it’s an that doesn’t if it’s not what semi autobiographical or anything and the carrots are wildly different you still always put a bit of yourself into every character and you obviously love the story you’re really involved with it your personality comes through and the way rides so it’s really difficult not to take things personally if people don’t like the book to put them in depending on how people say it I mean you could have a negative review which is very kind of objective and you kind of think well yeah fine but you know a lot I mean people feel very strongly about books and stories I mean I do I mean it’s been called you know the worst book ever unless fig and I mean other people’s favorites it’s got to the point now I mean it was it was quite surprising at the tire bit of a shot I suppose they’re kind of the how vitriolic some people were but now it’s it was published a few years ago now I kind of find it quite entertaining now device I would recommend anybody reads it because it’s absolutely brilliant you’ve write fantastically the words literally jump off the page it’s very captivating I love how everything’s interweaved I have a story connects you aside for one thing which we did speak about and takes you had me guessing the whole way through I had no idea what was gonna happen it loved loved loved it and like I say when I’m challenged and I have to think and I’ve really got to process right okay how would I deal with this situation what do I think that’s the successful book I you know when you’ve got your mind working like that I smash in really loved it love dog is not many people get identified of anybody getting all the twists that they people usually pick up on one thing that’s coming by usually hitting with the other one and so you’ve got these five how did it all start for you Claire when did you start writing is it something you always wanted to do is there a life before writing you know you’ve got a creative edge to you clearly so how did that will begin for you yeah I mean as a child I was pretty creative like I’d my head is always thinking of stories as a big reader I liked drawing little cartoons and and then doing little short stories and then I did a few short stories in my twenties I tried a novel but didn’t finish it and living with it a household of blokes at the time and so they where the people who gave me feedback about all these you know strong personality women and they said go for it so I didn’t really have much encouragement at the time but then in my 30s and I was living with my wife by that point and I just had the idea for it after mrs. Hamilton actually it sort of it was several stories kind of came together that I kind of twisted together and I just wanted to right and I thought we’re gonna try again I don’t care you know if people hate it I just want to write this story and I kind of gave it to my wife and and she would look to me that oh my god I’m gonna have to read something now okay I’ll give it a read and she was really surprised she’s like oh wow this is like a proper story this is like a proper book and that was so like that was the first proper encouragement I had you know they really probably helped that she was a lesbian and restrict their story I suppose that’s what yeah before you know the wrong audience entirely I mean it’s funny you say you live with all guys cuz I did four years as well when I was at university every house share I had was old chaps yeah yeah I did it’s by ot University and I did a computer science course for a year as well so I was in a lot and then working in IT for years so it’s a lot of male dominated area so it’s a yeah very much the same what did civil engineering right although there were a lot there were a few women in the course I didn’t go into engineering but within construction very heavily yeah moer dominated it’s is changing we’re breaking down yeah same with IT definitely this is really good so now let’s talk about boobs I haven’t read this book but everything I read online I’ve got to do it I’m such a big that’s read list and my children take up a lot of my time so what everyone raves about this book tell me about it and anyone who’s listening what’s the story about and then yeah yeah poppy Jenkins it was it was my third book no it wasn’t it was my fault well I just thought it’d be fun to have this quite innocent heroine who’s the girl next door who everyone loves but she has a bit of a boob obsession and I could have posted about this online on Facebook I know what was writing about and some Deek I know that you know they said well how is she different your other books are thinking watch and there’s read it and they said with a big obsession so they had a quick flick through my other books thinking whoa hang on a minute there boob theme going on here so they looked at that certain something yet page to Harry noticed other heroines boobs straight off mrs. Hamilton code bumps into mrs. Hamilton’s breasts and really appreciates it or they get no no yes there there’s a bit of a theme here after that post everybody has really picked up on anything I’ve ever said about boobs ever since I’ve just got this reputation about being completely obsessed now I think and so with with the Goodman’s I thought right I am gonna get that breast camp right down to suppress and they’re talking about it all came out in thighs I started mentioning thighs every other Vil up to his thighs lovely big prize oh you know that my first reader said you’ve got to cut that psycho right down so I gave up again and it all came out and breast in the second half of the novel again so the novel I’m working on this time I won’t say too much better I don’t like talking about because I’m writing too much but I thought like there’s a definite reason these characters won’t go on about breasts the whole time I thought right I’m good I’ve got it and and I’ve written about ten chapters and somebody’s very kindly read it and the first bit of feedback she get gave was oh nice solution to breasts on first page I think y’all come on I have still haven’t managed it so do you think people read that into your books now though maybe yeah I’m gonna start highlight in other people’s romances the boob pants I think just to reassure me Oh bless you like I said I’m so sorry I’ve not read it yet and it is on my list to read but yeah it tickles me every time I see the reference of like I’ve got to read this book that the worry is that you notice people think I’m completely bleep obsessed in real life is at left there’s nothing wrong with that yeah a Hebden Bridge book event that Jen silver runs and one of the questions from the audience was you know which of your characters are you most like and Claire light and then Andrea Brown will bow out both red poppy Jenkins the is and honestly no I’m not completely obsessed with boobs in real life I’d I’d honestly go around my head in the clouds thinking about stories most the time and will not notice them but they’re really nice to write about and now I’m not talking about the other author said one thing that’s just popped into my mind obviously these events that come up and you know the great great opportunities to meet readers some of you actually kind of heckle each other shall we say just sitting is this what happens yeah yeah there’s always that you know vulnerable spot that I have that people will take advantage of is Reggie a geeky artist 140 anything to do with books only do events where I suddenly think how on earth did I get here in this position it’s always the answer is Kiki our to quite frankly is you know instead she makes people do things way out of their comfort zone like there was that evening where moves abrasion came over to you km a few years ago and Kiki and I were really cheeky and said yeah you’re in the UK come and have a drink with those because you’re near as in the Midlands and she said yes which is really wise possibly oh so we met in Stratford and good lord and that we both hit it off there at the light theatre musicals and show tunes like that’s you know that I don’t mind that but it’s not my back at all and I say no show tunes and they’re you know they could know them off by heart but you know several bottles of Prosecco later you know I wake up the next day to you know videos out videos on Facebook and be singing along to show tunes you know this is what she does that is absolutely brilliant I’ve got my listen coming on actually in it you know in a week or so yeah I’m really looking forward to that oh that’s absolutely marvelous loving and would you have ever imagined that you would be doing these conferences that you would be this author having five books right in the sixth go into these events and celebrate in these great words that you’ve put out into the world I know it’s it’s it’s really you know lights out I mean I just wrote because I like writing stories and I thought it would be nice to get published at some point but assumed it never would but I mean I mean I’m self-published but I mean you know people have bought them which means I compare author and stay at home with my my kids which is just magic so I mean yeah if somebody had said a few years ago right you get two kids you absolutely adore and you get to stay at home with them a holidays courage you’re also a writer and people buy your books I would have just said that’s crazy no ways that can’t happen so but is honestly love it I love that story I love the seize the day moment they’re really as well how do you find the self-publishing is it a difficult thing in terms of I suppose more promotion or self-promotion yourself was it an easy thing to fall into or um I it has pros and cons for me I mean you might I might get traditionally published at some point in the future I may not I might say self popping is I mean I love the flexibility of it you know once I finished a book it can go straight out I don’t have to be in a schedule with other authors I mean to wait several months so I love that when I finished a book when I’m crazy about it still I can publicize it and talk to people about it get that feedback instantly that’s brilliant that’s so exciting and I would miss that in their traditional publishers but you know it’s hard work and you know I miss kind of being of camaraderie that other people have been you know bold strokes authors they have their festival that’s really nice I go to that some years so you are you know kind of by yourself or on your own more than others I think but you’ve got that more freedom to kind of do what you and your schedule to you yeah even if the story’s controversial I can still put it out I’m gonna put it out when I want and that is that’s where quite important to me I love that’s pretty brilliant okay so on that question for you and this might be like choosing your favorite child so I apologize and we’re come onto children in a minute which is your favorite book and why or favorite people in that mean I’ve got to choose my favorite actual child as well [Laughter] it’s one of three and it depends what kind of mood I’m on in because I mean after mrs. Hamilton that is the one that’s most different so I love that about it papi is that such a feel-good sunny romance and the reason I like that one so much is because we set back where I grew up and I’ve left cherry-picked all my favorite people when I grew up and favorite setting so you know that has a massive place in my heart that one and it is meant to be a big sunny happy romance though I mean there’s always angst in there but a bit of angst oh yeah I don’t yeah I didn’t realize that and my books were quite angsty actually until somebody said they were and that’s kind of yeah they’re they they are actually at the edge of those you know I do like events but I mean the probably the Goodman’s is the one I’m most proud of though we think that’s the one that has maybe a bit of everything that my writings about so you know a bit of humor some twists and mature characters and I mean the sort of emotional range that one is the one I’m most proud of so a variation in a variety of characters and relationships I I don’t it was quite ambitious with that one set and I it’s not perfect it has its faults but I pulled a lot of it off so that’s the one I’m kind of yeah that’s what I’m proudest up I think how do you find do you find the whole process of writing easy could you say that you’ve which of your books was the easiest to write versus perhaps more of a challenge ooh over there they’re difficult in different ways each of them and easy in different ways as well at aware of it he had the Goodman’s because it was so complex I mean it doesn’t see this is annoying a thing about writing books I get so such a muddle at the beginning think how am I going to do how am I going to weave all these themes and characters together and he gets the end of it and they look so bloody obvious then they know how were you Rim yes why can’t I realize that at the beginning and just write it out it’ll be a lot nicer it’s whether about that one was quite complex but I also had a very good feel for one of the main characters so it was really easy to write it in a very realistic way and the dialogue came so naturally a lot of the characters gonna really good feel for them but it was a complex book so hard in that way nice I like that and now you said a moment ago for the good men see oh no papi Jenkins or your remind me now sets in where you grew up you’re from Wales only is that right yeah Mid Wales yeah yes are you second English my accents been through a few changes I think well I mean my parents are English when they moved there when I was four but so I don’t really remember anything before that but now I think I had a bit of a rural accent when I was growing up and my parents the buggers drop that okay so the big question is who do you support in the rugby in a rug Oh would you go way also England and let this you turn him this will determine if the podcast carries on by the way I know I dunno I love it it depends on the team actually they because some teams you know you kind of you think they’re good characters they and so I I will yeah unashamedly just switch teams as well ten days it starts bring it on you’re listening to the news bein talk show the lesbian talk show calm your hub of podcast information okay so I’ve got some fun and interesting questions for you are you ready for this not really I think the harmless on the sale from it’s how many pillows do you sleep with pillows um oh loads as many as like to get my hands on yeah I can only do one obviously although I have just changed my mattress I was gonna say I get a sore neck and the match we’ve gone for a really firm mattress because I was getting hurt okay I love it oh and it’s made it so just the one pillow for me but you’ve got loads no no she and I shuffle about all night in all kinds of position sir on a bed of pillows more than the actual better thing and what do you like to do to unwind all depends Oh a variety of telly read a book get horribly drunk any of those and we were suppose we’re I’m kind of happiest is actually just playing around in the countryside with the kids actually that’s where I actually unwind and get a high from being outside just with the kids I was gonna say could I see the photos that you posted online in there I want me first if you’ve got a great eye for photography and thank you you know it demonstrates you’re very creative I think the images you put up a beautiful but it looks like you also have such a fantastic time you’re very outdoorsy and you’re all hanging off rocks yeah those toys my wife the other day and I say you know sometimes I don’t always tell you all of our adventures you know when we get home sometimes we do get in a bit of a pickle like you know at the time we’re kind of almost washed away in the river we had to cross that kind of thing and so I had to admit that you know that sometimes I might you know sugarcoat the adventure he turned to me and said Ellie tells me everything just not getting away with it your youngster say it’s hilarious aren’t children magic with the words that they use them what they say and how they deliver what’s blindingly obvious in the most direct way yeah they make me laugh out that kind of early especially so matter of fact I what was the latest yeah yesterday’s was I was marching about why am I so forget when she’s you know gave me affectionate pat on the cheek and said it’s because you’re an old woman I just really love well over then I also have to tell her I might find that funny but don’t say that think I laugh it quite a lot of what they say which in outside of the house if they were to say I die yeah it’s quite humorous yeah time that you know early turned to my mother-in-law at dinner and said Nana have you got a vulva okay so we’ve got naming of them and that to me now we need to know how to use this where to say learn about that a school now are they yeah we’ve a similar age children we’ve just established before the podcast started and yes I mean Jamie comes home telling us all sorts okay another what was your first job a first job oh when I was a student or and the Sixth Form I worked in the little chef as a waitress oh it’s probably my first page you know properly going out to work every day I think yeah well I used to love those stopping off on the motorway the pancakes were amazing yeah yeah how many pairs of shoes do you own Oh Lots all of the same sort you know actually that either boots or you know walking kind of shoes where I can run around the hills with the kids but do not vary my shoe stock I’m exactly the same and I never used to have that many I’m quite quite simple in the sense of when I purchase clay then I buy what’s practical what I need and I don’t have a variety of everything but actually on the footwear side of things recently I’ve gone past my wife I’ve got low but they’re all the same just a variety of colours hello though um are you an organised or messy person messy definitely messy Oh err and my wife is is Miss organisation and OCD blimey and and the kids as well it’s um I gave birth to Joan and Jane gave birth to Ellie and the you know that that that is inherited that’s fundraising definitely what my boy is messy and distracted and creative like me and Ellie is just like rolling her eyes and putting things away and in order okay so who was your favorite teacher in school and why my favorite teacher oh well it was poppy when I was about five she was called mrs. Jones since she was quite a middle-aged woman and she used to wear these massively I mean this is kind of would have been late 70s so she was wild pattern nylon dresses and a little cardigan it’s so it’s really vibrant colors and patterns and shoes very nurturing and patient this very traditional Welsh woman who she and she very kind of understanding all kinds of kids I think and the one that the thing that sealed it was that we saw school photos and he had a little book though so that you could stick your friends photos in and swap them and I wanted one of her to stick in and she said well you can’t because everybody will want when they don’t have enough but at the end of the day she took me aside and secretly gave me a photo that’s absolutely isn’t it amazing how the imitate teachers are incredible and the impact that they have on us as we grow up that’s beautiful I love that amazing okay lastly questions I asked everybody what was the last image you took on your photo stream on your phone oh it’s probably one of the kids where’s my phone gone yeah Ellie a Teddy Aiden if you can see it he saved up for it I didn’t realize quite how big it was [Laughter] and then what’s your most used emoji oh my oh oh yes I do yes I do those smiley faces or a probably a little blushing smiley face I think I can see that oh yeah I tend to use the laughing crying smiley it’s not what it’s called you understood this has been gorgeous you’ve been absolutely amazing I’ve loved this conversations God take you so to wrap it up since this is a theme and I was asked is what kind of advice would you give to a listener who wants to seize the day perhaps do something new with their life write a book change their career have a child would actually have a family and not sure about how to go about it or should they do it what kind of advice would you give somebody who wants to do something but they’re uncertain how to proceed being a bit older now having the kids and kind of my life is run by kids I suppose that idea in a different ways it is making sure I have time and space to not let it just a life drift apart make sure that we’re doing things that keep us all happy and you know there’s make sure I’ve got time for the kids so that when they want to equate things like we’re having a pajama day you know they were all knackered so I just stay in our pajamas all day stay indoors but Ellie decides she wants to have a game of football and it’s pouring it down with rain outside and I just think well come on then let’s go outside pajamas play football let’s do it and it was just well as really silly moments rain in pajamas running ran outside neighbors looking over there you know how they wish think you what north are they doing and kids slipping around wallow pace and it was just like one of those magic moments that I’ll remember forever so it’s kind of make sure the little moments don’t pass you by because sometimes they’re better than well anything you dream off really and that is a perfect season a bit of advice honestly absolutely magic because it doesn’t have to be this grand massive thing that somebody’s looking at and I you know when I say give somebody advice and typically it is a larger thing that I mentioned but actually this what you’ve just said is the most important thing because what’s happening now at this moment makes is the most important thing it makes sense it’s relevant it’s you know you need to take advantage and seize that opportunity and going outside playing in your pajamas brilliant I love that I love that Claire honestly that’s beautiful really beautiful okay so how and where can everybody find you online websites Twitter Instagram yeah on Twitter and I have a blog where I post got of news and and all them on Facebook as well fabulous I’ll make sure I put all of you links in the show notes thank you so much for joining thank you for inviting me this has been absolutely beautiful and yeah thank you so much for thanks everyone for listening take care look after yourself keep well you have been listening to seize the day but Natalie Venice now all contact information can be found in the show notes together with any links to websites or may have referred to in the show if you’ve enjoyed this podcast then come talk to us at a lesbian talk show chat group on Facebook email us on podcast at the lesbian talk show comm or follow us on Twitter at lesbian talk show you can also join our community of patrons and gates collusive content go to patreon.com/scishow and talk shows the link is in the show notes thank you thank you thank you [Music]