Interview With Science Fiction & Fantasy Author Clare Deming

Updated January 26, 2022 by Iulian Ionescu | Read Time min.

Fantasy Author Clare Deming

Clare L. Deming lives in New Jersey and once applied to be an astronaut. She writes both science fiction and fantasy, and her most recent work can be found online in Perihelion SF and the Universe Horribilis anthology from Third Flatiron Publishing. Clare is continuing to work on short fiction and two novels: Starblight (space opera) and Badge of the Black Dragon (alternate history/fantasy).

When not busy writing, Clare spends her time fencing. She has been competing in saber for over fifteen years, traveling across the United States and Europe. She has been ranked nationally and has lost to Olympians. Clare is also a licensed pilot and flies a Cessna 172 when the weather cooperates.


Q: How and when did you get started as a writer?
A: I remember writing stories as early as elementary school, followed by some scattered attempts through high school. A couple of years after I finished college, I realized that I had some free time on my hands, so I decided that I wanted to write. I read some “how-to” books and joined a critique group, and I’ve been working on it ever since.

Q: How do you usually find your ideas? What do you do when you get stuck?
A: My early ideas were nebulous things consisting of a single aspect of a story: an interesting character trait or a glimpse of a place. These would come from all kinds of places – a conversation I overheard, a scientific article, a piece of artwork, or the occasional strange dream. These weren’t stories by themselves, though. I usually work by taking a promising idea and asking it questions. So for a character obsessed with Chinese fortune cookies, I’ll want to know why he collects them. Then I’ll throw obstacles in the way. One way to think of this would be to ask, “What is the worst thing that could happen to this character?” followed by, “How would he react if someone ate his fortune cookie collection?” Make terrible things happen to a character and figure out how this person would react.

When I get stuck on a particular story, I have to think about why this has happened. Sometimes I have written myself into a corner, or I don’t know what should happen next. If I step away and come back to the story later, this will let me look at the plot and characters in a fresh way, and the path will become clear. The other approach that I take is to make something explode. Sometimes this is literal; other times, it translates to having something shocking and BAD happen to my characters.

Q: Can you give us your advice on how new writers should handle rejections?
A: Assume that you’re going to get them. I try to think about my submitted stories in terms of “when will I get the rejection?” rather than “will the editor publish this one?” I’m a pretty optimistic person, so one other way to think about rejections might be to tell yourself, “Okay, well, the story wasn’t right for that editor, but maybe the next one will buy it.” Then send it right back out.

Q: What made you choose Fantasy as your main genre? Did you attempt any other genres?
A: I grew up reading fantasy and science fiction but was drawn to more fantasy writers – Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, and Mercedes Lackey. If I picked up any mainstream teen novels, I was bored. So in my writing, it is a familiar and favorite place to be. I’m also obsessed with swords, so of course, that lends itself more to the fantasy genre. I don’t mind spaceships, rayguns, or aliens, so I write science fiction, and I’ve dabbled in horror.

Q: Did you ever self-publish? If yes, how was that process for you? If no, why not?
A: No, I haven’t. I wouldn’t rule out self-publishing as an option, but I would rather focus my efforts on writing for now. Most of my work is short fiction, so I don’t think it’s worth the time for me to learn the ins and outs of this process until I have something more substantial to put out there.

Q: Where do you see traditional publishing going in today’s world?
A: I’m not sure. It certainly is changing, and I think it will take time to settle out.

Q: How many revisions do you usually go through with your work? Do you find it easy to let a manuscript go to the publisher?
A: This can vary, but usually two. I typically write the first draft and send the story to my critique partners. After receiving feedback, I’ll do one revision that attempts to correct the larger issues like character inconsistencies, logic and plot holes, and unclear worldbuilding. Sometimes this revision level only involves rewriting a few paragraphs, but other times, I’ll just start over with a blank page. The second revision is for proofreading and word choice. In this pass, I look for repetitive words, excess adjectives and adverbs, and typos. I’ll also read the story out loud.

Q: Who is your favorite author? Why?
A: Growing up, my favorite author was Anne McCaffrey, and at one point, I had read everything she had written. More recently, I’ve grown in love with Lois McMaster Bujold. Her characters are amazing, and she is such a versatile writer. Her work stretches from space opera to fantasy (with some unique worldbuilding), and the Vorkosigan series is so hilarious at points that I’ve been in tears. I wish more people knew about her books.

Q: Do you have a special place or ritual for writing?
A: There are a few places that I write, depending on my mood. I usually prefer to write at home, rather than at a coffee shop or library. My only computer is my laptop, so my work area changes. Often I will write at my desk, but in the afternoon, the sun’s glare bothers me. I’ll also lie on the couch or sit outside if the weather is nice.

Q: What is your final advice for new writers?
A: Read a lot. Read something similar to what you would like to write and study the language and how the author puts the characters and the plot together. Then write a lot. Even if you think that your idea sucks, try writing it out. You never know how it will turn out. Lastly, if you’re trying to get your work published, find a good group of critiquers to give you constructive feedback.

Fantasy Author Clare DemingClare, thank you for answering my questions and for the helpful tips you gave us. Good luck with your next project!

To check Clare’s works, use the links below:
Clare’s Blog
Follow Clare on Twitter

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