South Coast Son is a story about a young guy who is trying to rise above the expectations that are placed him and create his own future. I think that, at some time or another, all of us experience a bit of pressure to figure out what we want and who we want to spend our time with; sometimes it’s not always as simple as having a dream and then going after it. Sam starts off knowing what he wants but finds it difficult to make it all happen. There are a few obstacles that he faces and some of them force him to rethink his plan and maybe try a different approach—or even a completely different path.
Please tell us about the character of Samuel Saber.
Samuel Saber is a twenty-one year old guy who is really just trying to transition into adulthood unscathed. He is constantly battling with the idea of who he wants to be and who his father, Arthur Saber (and the mayor of South Coast) wants him to be. Like any parent, Arthur wants Sam to reach his potential and get himself a good, stable career but Sam just wants to play football and hang out with his friends and, of course, with girls. However, being the mayor’s son and being in the public eye he seems to constantly get himself in trouble with his dad and as a result, Arthur pushes back and tries harder to control him.
What made you want to write from a male perspective in this book?
I’d already finished writing a bunch of stories from female perspectives (Mistry by Moonlight was the twelfth and latest before I started on this one) and I suppose I wanted to try something different. I’d always toyed with the idea of writing from a male perspective but I didn’t have a story to run with until I came up with Sam’s story. Samuel was born from another one of my books which was told from Paige’s perspective and also picked up just after their breakup. In that one, he was ‘Samuel the Swordsman’ after she found herself in a parallel universe and even though he was only a minor character, I was really curious about what motivated him to break up with her to begin with. There are always multiple sides to a story so ‘Samuel the Swordsman’ became ‘Samuel Saber’ and I created his persona around that parallel alter ego. It was a lot of planning since I was going off another story but I am really proud of the end result. I hope I did justice to a male voice.
This is your second novel and people always say it’s the hardest- how have you found the experience?
I actually thought the production and publishing process was a lot smoother the second time around. I have a really great group of people to work with at Pegasus Publishers and I think since I was more familiar with how things happened, I was more prepared for it. It’s always a little daunting though because these stories and characters are so close to me and I want to make sure that I give them the best chance that I can at succeeding. For an establishing author especially it can be difficult to get the word out and also since I live in Perth, Western Australia it is a little more isolated than other cities. I’d say the geography of it all is probably the hardest part.
What has the reception been like for your first two books?
Good, it’s always lovely to hear people discussing my characters and stories like they real to them too. I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the Storylines Literature Festival at All Saints’ College (which is a local High School in Perth), and I had people who had read my first book coming up and talking to me about it and that was really humbling. ‘South Coast Son’ has only been out for a few of months so I haven’t heard as much about that one but I really hope that people are enjoying it. I always welcome and encourage readers to let me know what they think and reviews are an excellent way to express that.
How important is it for you to stay in touch with your readers?
Readers are the most important part of telling stories because they’re the ones that breathe life into the pages. Without them, my stories are just words. That said, I think it’s really important as an author to stay in touch with your readership and for that reason I try to make sure I’m accessible to anyone who would like to reach out to me. Social media is wonderful in keeping in touch with the world so I have accounts with a range of different social media sites like Twitter(@sailorclaire), Facebook (/officialclairemerchant), Tumblr (clairemmerchant) and Instagram (@sailorclaire). I keep those up-to-date with what I’m working on and other snippets from my stories. I also make an effort to respond to anyone who has questions or comments for me, or those who even just want to say hello. People don’t need to take the time so I am grateful for every ounce of support from them that I receive.
What is your writing process?
It’s hard to explain but sometimes I’ll just see or hear things and an idea will just explode in my head. For that reason, I always try and make sure that I’ve got a pen or my phone handy so I can write things down that come to me. When I get concept for a story, the next thing I consider is the voice, so who would find themselves in that position, and that can either mean creating a new character or referring back to one that I’ve already have created. Before I actually start writing, I make sure that I know my main characters well. I plan them out in quite a bit of detail so I know everything about them—their looks, their interests, their family, what drives them, their fears, their friends, their enemies—I try and make sure they’re as 3D as possible so I know how they would react in certain situations. I think that it’s really important that characters feel real so their stories are believable—even if those stories involve magic or werewolves and vampires.
What is next for you?
I’m working on a few ideas at the moment. I have planned out a sequel and threequel (if that’s what you call it?) for my first book ‘Mistry by Moonlight’, plus a couple of other stories swirling including a sequel to ‘Dying Light’ which I’ve just finished writing about my light magic breed—the Light Lacers. There is also Cole’s origin story (Cole is a character from ‘Mistry by Moonlight’ and was another of my books called ‘Forever Ruby’) which I’m always slowly getting through.
Publication-wise there are a couple more stories of South Coast that I’m about to start work on with Pegasus Publishers—‘Forever Ruby’ which is Ruby’s story (who was a vampire/support character in Mistry by Moonlight), and also one called ‘Knowing Nora’ which is one of my more human/fiction stories.
There are so many exciting things ahead so hopefully people will be hearing a lot more from me soon!