Claire Kann is the author of several novels and an award-winning online storyteller. In her other life she works for a non-profit you may have heard of where she daydreams like she’s paid to do it. She loves cats and is obsessed with horror media (which makes the whole being known for writing contemporary love stories a little weird, tbh).
I had the opportunity to interview Claire, which you can read below.
First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi! Hello! I’m Claire Kann, the author of quite a few novels now, including the forthcoming THE ROMANTIC AGENDA (preorder today!). I enjoy watching YouTube essays for hours on end, reading horror novels, and spending time with my cat.
When and how did you realize you were first interested in writing, and what drew you specifically to Young Adult Fiction and your upcoming Adult Romance?
Well… I haven’t told this story in quite some time so here we go:
Once upon a time… just kidding.
As a kid/teenager, I was a voracious reader but it never occurred to me that I could also be an author. I thought being an author was something that was only available to other people who were not me. Which is silly. I know. I dabbled with writing poetry for a while, but nothing really stuck.
Fast forward to my college years. I attended right after high school, realized I wasn’t emotionally ready for the dorm environment, and dropped out after a semester. I spent the next few years reading, working, and hanging out with my friends–just normal growing up stuff and really enjoying life as a soon-to-be adult with a lot of hard lessons to learn.
Finally, I decided I was ready… It was time for me to go back to school. I didn’t know what I wanted to major in yet, but I knew I wanted to do something that would lead to a better paying job. To get started, I signed up for general education classes and chose creative writing as one of my electives.
And then everything changed, when the Fire Nation attacked.
The Fire Nation being my fellow students in my creative writing class. I wrote my very first original short story for a workshop and the response was so overwhelmingly positive I started crying. I remember walking to my car and thinking, “This is it. This is what I’m supposed to do. I’m going to be a writer.” I changed my major the next day.
At that time, I was still a young adult so that’s where I got started–write what you know, and all that. Now, there isn’t really a specific special something that compels me to write one age group over another. I come up with an idea, and the characters who populate the story tell me who they are. I let my agent/marketing decide what it should be classified as.
How would you describe your writing process? What inspires you to write and keep on writing?
My writing process is both chaotic and repetitive as all get out. There’s a saying “writing is rewriting” which my creative brain took to heart. I always start with a rough outline and create a draft from that, often writing scenes out of order, huge chunks of dialogue, and info dumps galore. I just need to get everything out of my head first. From that draft, I create a new outline and rewrite the entire thing. Twice, if needed.
Usually after that third pass, my manuscripts are good to go. I send them to my editor or agent or critique partners for feedback. Then with their notes I revise, revise, revise…
While I’m drafting I like to have some coffee, crunchy foods like carrots or chips, and music playing. Music is a huge part of my process.
These days, apart from my contracts, I’m not sure what inspires me to keep writing. It’s actually something I’ve been focusing on finding an answer to for the past year. I think because I started writing after receiving such instrumental positive feedback, I’m always striving for that experience again… which is… not smart. The internet doesn’t care about your feelings and will hurt them in ways you can’t even imagine. I’ve had to learn to disconnect my inspiration, the elation I feel from sharing my writing, from the reader’s response to my work.
I do love writing, though. I don’t think I could ever give that up, its hooks have latched onto my soul, but whether or not I continue to seek publication is another story.
Within the literary community, you’re known for your books featuring asexual representation, including Let’s Talk About Love and your upcoming ace romance, The Romantic Agenda. Just wanted to give a brief thanks for that! Where did you find the inspiration for those stories?
The stories began because both main characters just appeared in my head.
I knew who Alice, the protagonist of LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE, was almost immediately because she screamed a lot–she’s very excitable and chaotic. When I asked her what kind of story she wanted, we went through a few plots I had in my idea bank but she ended up telling me she wanted a romance. I paired her with Takumi, and there was zero chemistry. None. Zilch. The story wasn’t working at all. I wasn’t sure why so I did some character interviews, some research, and what do you know… she’s asexual. It was one of the biggest “AHA! Oh, wait… oh shit” moments of my life. I remember, in startling, visceral detail, exactly how I felt right then. (I often have to throw out a disclaimer here: LTAL is not autobiographical or even auto-fiction. Alice and I land on different spots on the spectrum, something I did on purpose.)
For Joy, the protagonist for THE ROMANTIC AGENDA, it was a bit easier. My agent asked if I would be interested in writing an ace romcom and I said, “I can try!” I knew I wanted to write an older ace character who had almost everything figured out. Joy appeared and was up for the task. Plot wise, I decided on a mashup between the movies The Great Outdoors and My Best Friend’s Wedding. Personally, I don’t see the end result as a romcom. I’d rather call it a contemporary love story.
Looking from your book, it is obvious you are a fan of romance and cute and fluffy content. What draws you in about writing romance?
More than anything else I’m a character driven writer. I do what they want. I tell their stories.
Because my focus lies so heavily with my characters, it’s only natural that their chosen supporting casts have a great impact on who they are, who they become, and why. Those relationships (whether they be romantic, platonic, familial) determine how the story plays out. Labels are decided by marketing–I revise to match genre conventions based on what the primary perception is (if I agree it fits the overall heart of the story, of course).
When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing or consuming in your free time?
I love listening to music and spend a lot of my time watching YouTube. This year one of my goals is to focus on reading more. I really want to push beyond my comfort zone by reading things I think I won’t like.
What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet, but wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)?
Oh, this is a difficult one. I’m a notoriously private person, so I don’t like being asked questions. But in the spirit of sharing…
What’s my favorite color and why?
Purple because a long, long time ago Howie D. from the Backstreet Boys said it was his favorite so it had to be my favorite. I also love forest green.
What advice would you have to give for other aspiring writers?
Hmm. I truly believe that all the writing advice that could ever be given can already be found on the internet. There’s no such thing as an inspiring writer. If you write, you’re a writer.
But if you’re an aspiring author, as in you are seeking publication, actively or someday, I’m going to use a quote from ACROSS THE GREEN GRASS FIELDS by Seanan McGuire, from her Wayward Children which series I heartily recommend reading:
Are there other projects you are currently working on and at liberty to discuss?
I am indeed working on other projects! I wish I could talk about them because I’m really excited about what’s coming up next! But alas! I cannot!
Finally, what LGBTQ+ books/authors would you commend to the readers of Geeks OUT?
FIRE BECOMES HER by Rosiee Thor
RISE TO THE SUN by Leah Johnson
THIS POISON HEART by Kaylnn Bayron
GIDEON THE NINTH by Tamsyn MuirA LONG WAY TO A SMALL ANGRY PLANET by Becky Chambers