Sunday 6 January 2013

Author Interview: Clarissa Johal

About the Author:

Clarissa Johal has worked as a veterinary assistant, zoo-keeper aide and vegetarian chef. Writing has always been her passion. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s dancing or taking photographs of gargoyles.

Clarissa shares her life with her husband, two daughters and every stray animal that darkens the doorstep. One day, she expects that a wayward troll will wander into her yard, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?

The characters tell me their story, not vice-versa. I'll hear their voices in my head and see the scene as it plays out, and I'll write it down. Which sounds a bit cuckoo, actually, but that's how I write.

Do your characters ever want to take over the story? 

Oh yes. They complain, have tantrums and make me rewrite scenes and endings. There will be times I'll make them sit in the corner for mouthing off. They usually get their way, though.

What is your favourite food?

Well, this may sound odd, but I really like brussel sprouts. Strawberries are a close second.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Both, depending when the writing bug hits me. I'm a bit of an insomniac. 

Where do you dream of travelling to and why?

My favourite place on earth is Loch Skeen in the Dumfries and Galloway area of Scotland. My husband and I backpacked all over the UK and I fell in love with the remoteness of it. I was close to tears when we had to leave!

Do distant places feature in your books?

I tend to write about places I know well. Unless I'm writing about the Otherworld. Then I have to listen to what my characters tell me of that place because I have yet to visit.

Do you listen to music while writing?

I've tried but find it terribly distracting. 

Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?

BETWEEN is paranormal with ghosts, guardians and death spirits. It has strong themes of redemption and laced with historical aspects from the 1349 black plague of Ireland. I wrote it in kind of an accidental way. I was working on my fantasy series and was hit with two characters that definitely didn't fit. I kept setting them aside but they wouldn't leave me alone. Eventually, I gave up what I was working on and started writing BETWEEN. I had the rough draft in a month, the finished novel a year later, and it was accepted for publication two months after that. 

What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?

The amount of self-promotion that goes into it is ridiculous. I find it very uncomfortable at times.

Is there anything you would do differently?

Not really. Life is a journey. Once you start changing things up and wishing you did things differently, you change who you are. 

Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?

I loved watching reruns of The Twilight Zone when I was a kid. That twist at the ending was always the thrill. 

Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?

Start networking. It's all about having connections and a support system. Write every day, even when you think it's awful. And don't get discouraged--there are readers for every writer, you just have to find them.

What are three words that describe you?

Um... I've never been asked that! I was told I was eclectic the other day, so I'll use that one. I like to think I'm focused...most of the time. Inquisitive would be a third. Now I feel ridiculous. Can I add that one too?

What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?

Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock is my favourite book. Neil Gaiman is my favorite writer. I have a bit of a writerly crush on him, which I try and keep a secret but fail miserably.

by Clarissa Johal

How far would you go to redeem yourself?


 As a young girl, Lucinda was able to see spirits, a gift that didn't come without its problems. Now, a dedicated young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that every life can be saved.  

After a devastating accident, Lucinda tries to escape her past by moving to a small town. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him. But there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire. 

As Lucinda is drawn into a bitter tug-a-war from the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life...but a battle for their salvation.

Buy Links: Amazon Author Page


  1. Hi Clarissa, it's great to see what makes you tick. Thumbs up for the Twilight Zone, and for finding the localities (real and imagined) that really touch you. But brussel sprouts?? Trade up to curly kale, trust me!

    1. I'm with Derek on this one, Brussels sprouts are not for me, but my husband loves them :)

  2. Glad to see you are a fan of the UK Clarissa. Enjoyed the post


  3. Enjoyed your interview, Clarissa. I still love that cover. A door, a key...oh yeah!

  4. LOL, Derek!! But they're little, bitter gems of goodness! :) Thanks, Susan! My dad was from England, my husband is from England...can't get away from those people, haha. I would move to the UK in a second. Thanks, Rita! They did a nice job on it, didn't they?

  5. LOL - I think your writerly crush is a secret no more. I totally loved listening him reading the audio version of his Graveyard Book.