July 2013


Claire Garber’s debut novel, Love is a Thief, is released this month. She works as a film location agent in London but spends a lot of time in the French Alps. (Interview by Jade Craddock)

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  1. 1. What three words would you use to describe Love is a Thief?

    A must read. And three word sentences are a theme in my next novel!

  2. 2. How much of the novel is based on your own life experiences?

    The idea for the book absolutely came from my own life experience. I turned 30. I was irreconcilably heart-broken. All my future plans involved this one guy so when it ended I literally sat on the floor, weeping, asking myself what on earth do I do next? I didn’t want to meet anyone else, I didn’t want to kiss anyone else, I didn’t want to share my life with anyone else. I just wanted him, so I needed to come up with a new plan and started by going out and doing all the things I didn’t do when I was with him - and so began the idea for Love is a Thief.

  3. 3. What research did you do for the novel? What were the most intriguing love-stolen dreams you heard?

    I use the word ‘research’ loosely as it involved friendly conversations with an assortment of different women, but they were all enlightening and they were honest. I think women over 50 were the most candid and bold. They had done everything already - made mistakes, recovered from heartbreak, had kids and raised them. A guy is NOT the answer, they’d all say to me. Men are great. They are fun. They are key in the process of getting oneself pregnant but if you are looking for them to patch up any part of yourself … think again. It’s not their job. And it’s not a job they do well.

  4. 4. It’s quite difficult to think about what love’s stolen from us, do you think it’s important that women do this?

    People can be very defensive when you ask them what love stole, protective, as if you are questioning the validity of their relationship and their choices. I understand that love is a treasured goal so people are reluctant to acknowledge they’ve given up anything for it, but you can’t have it all, something has to go, and sometimes that can be a small part of yourself that gets lost. And I have found that whenever women (and men) re-engage with that lost part, their relationship is re-energised and blossoms. It’s not healthy to know yourself only in relation to another, to define yourself as part of a part. You are not a pair. You are not a Siamese twin. And if you were there would be a team of medical professionals stood around you discussing how to surgically remove you from your other half.

  5. 5. The novel hints at some male love-stolen dreams but the focus is more on women, do you think women compromise more in relationships than men?

    Not at all. I think men give up just as much as women and they also suffer from living with a wife/girlfriend who, a few years down the line, they might barely recognise as she’s given so much of herself since becoming a pair. But men don’t moan. They become obsessed with football, or sport cars, or have affairs.

  6. 6. What message do you want readers to take from your novel?

    Make the relationship you have with yourself the most important one. Know yourself. Understand what you like, just for you, not for you as a two. You will bring so much more to the table in every part of your life if you do. And I didn’t mean for so much of that to rhyme. A wise woman tends to her own garden first – old but true.

  7. 7. I think your novel may start a love-stolen dream phenomenon, are you ready to become Pirate Claire?

    I love pirates. I want a boat, braided hair and dramatic eye makeup.

  8. 8. How did you find writing your first novel?

    Hard. Long. Stressful. But I felt so passionate about the book, that it was something I had to get out there, no matter what. It’s a difficult process as an unsigned author because you are writing around a full-time job, life, commitments. You have to lock yourself away in a room at weekends and evenings when everyone else is getting on with their lives, getting married, having kids, all because there is this thing you have to do, that no one may ever read, wondering if in fact you have some kind of social anxiety disorder and that’s why you want to be alone all the time. It’s worth it but it’s the hardest thing I have ever ever ever done. Ever.

  9. 9. What have been the scariest and most exciting moments of your journey so far?

    Scariest: Waiting for my agent to say yes I want to sign you. She was my key. Exciting: The day I visited the printers and watched 12,000 copies of my book printed before my very eyes - literally the best day of my entire life.

  10. 10. What are you most looking forward to about being an author?

    I am so lucky because signing with my agent and publisher were my dreams. So I feel like I am already kicking back and patting myself on the back. But if we are wishing for things, and it feels like we are, then Love is a Thief becoming an international bestseller and hit movie – that would be great!

  11. 11. What was your writing process like? How long did it take?

    Nearly three years in total. My writing process? Total chaos. I wrote everything out of order dependent on mood and location and which character I had the greatest affinity with that day. Also it was time dependent. If I had a weekend to write I would tackle the novel as a whole looking at pacing and rhythm. A 30-minute train journey would allow me to capture chunks of conversations that my characters might be having in my head. Chaos.

  12. 12. For readers whose love-stolen dream is to write a novel, what advice would you give?

    1. I am a big believer in saying ‘I am’ not ‘I will’.
    2. Positive visualisation - see where you want to get to and see yourself stood there.
    3. Become blinkered – the odds are against success so always ignore them (and get used to people telling you how unrealistic you are being. People like to dream crush).
    4. And feel like you already have it.
    The day I started saying I am; saw myself (down to the shoes I was wearing) in the office of my publisher; felt like I had already achieved it (not that I was anxiously waiting for it) was the day things started to change for me. Do it!

  13. 13. Are you a fan of chick-lit?

    Please forgive me, but I am not a big reader… I find reading hard and when I’m writing I’m nervous to read other authors work for fear that their rhythm and use of words will merge with my own (and also because their talent makes me feel totally incapable.) I am a massive fan of teen fiction … although I am not sure what that says about my maturity.

  14. 14. Which authors inspire you?

    I loved J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye because I felt it broke with convention in terms of what was acceptable or commonplace structurally in a novel. In terms of chick lit I think Helen Fielding is truly brilliant, timeless. I love the way Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) constructs sentences and I am inspired by books like Yes Man by Danny Wallace – books that make you laugh while perhaps inspiring positive change in the reader. Also, thank you, Suzanne Collins for Hunger Games. You take me to another world. Now that’s inspirational.

  15. 15. Have you any plans for another novel? If so can you give us a sneak preview?

    I am in the midst of a new novel at the moment, another girl on a quest novel, and it’s been a difficult process. It’s taken me a long time to get to know my characters and when you have ultimate control over their destiny, the over-whelming choice can be paralysing.

  16. 16. And finally I guess no interview with you would be complete without asking the all- important love-stolen dream question: what one thing would you be happy to fill up your time, your heart, your soul for the rest of your days?

    Living on top of a mountain in the French Alps teaching skiing, writing novels, and eating cheese … which is very similar to what I do now.

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