Clara’s Return by @suzannalin #Authorinterview #fantasybook #strongfemale
About the Book: Clara’s Return
Clara, lost and disillusioned from a hard-fought war, hopes to discover some answers about her lineage and abilities in the quiet village of Bluebell, where she once lived before being sold into slavery. However, as she and the Captain of the Royal Guard make their journey, a new threat to the kingdom arises in the form of a traitor.
This new threat has been patiently brewing since the fall of the sorceror-king Marduk and careful plans are now coming to fruition. Emmerich’s struggles with his new role as king and his ever-present nightmares leave him feeling inadequate to the task. What he needs most is Clara.
But how can she help from so far away? And how can she help if she does not even know who she is?
About the Author
Suzanna J. Linton was born in Charleston, SC but grew up in rural Orangeburg County. At age eight, she tried to read The Secret Garden by herself. After following her mother around for a day, asking questions about the Yorkshire accent, she gave up, but that didn’t deter her in developing a deep appreciation for books and the worlds to which they open. A few years later, she wrote her first poem, which eventually led her to writing fiction.
In 2002, she attended the summer program at the SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, where she refined her poetry and wrote her first decent short story. In 2003, Suzanna began attending Francis Marion University, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s in English.
Today, she continues to live in South Carolina with her husband and their assorted pets
Tell us more about your new book “Clara’s Return” what is it about?
Clara’s Return follows the story of a seer named Clara as she goes on a quest to discover her origins: why she was sold into slavery, how did she come to have her ability, why does she look different from her other countrymen. But as she journeys, a new threat to her kingdom arises in the form of a traitor. The king’s already-shaky hold on his throne is even more undermined and it looks as if the kingdom will fall into anarchy.
I believe this is the next book in a series, for those who have not read your previous books, can you tell us a bit of the story and the titles of those books?
Several people have called this a series but I’m not sure if it deserves the name. Clara’s Return is a sequel to my debut novel, Clara. In the first book, we’re introduced to Clara as a mute slave who is thrust into a civil war because of her ability to see the future. As she’s drawn deeper into the war and pulled at by different factions, she discovers unsettling secrets that put her own soul in danger.
Clara is a strong lead female in the book and faces many conquests. What has been the most difficult challenge for Clara?
Her most difficult challenge is in trusting others. For example, she meets a man from her past, when she knew him as a boy, but he’s not the person she remembers. She’s constantly second-guessing his motives. She’s been hurt so much by others that she has trouble believing anyone would honestly want to help her or befriend her. When that tentative trust is betrayed, it shatters whatever relationship she has with that other person.
What was your inspiration behind writing Clara’s story?
My own struggles to be authentic to myself were a big inspiration. Clara is constantly struggling to both find herself and hold onto that identity both in the face of conflict and those who say “oh, you should be someone else”. These are similar to conflicts in my own life, though I’ve never had to face down a giant or a sorcerer!
Often when a strong female protagonist is used, male readers are often disconnected. However, there is so much more to “Clara’s Return”. Can you tell us about some of the stories lines that would attract both female and male readers?
I think male readers will really connect with the other male characters that play major roles in the story. There’s King Emmerich, who struggles with the traumas of his past as well as a sense of unworthiness in his role as king. There’s General Asher, who is faced with Court intrigues and a murder mystery. Lord Bruin is the mischievous scholar-turned-spy who is in over his head and doesn’t realize it until it’s too late. And Captain Jarrett is a favourite among my readers because of his humour and strong sense of honour and duty.
Tell us more about you, when did you start writing, and what encouraged you to keep writing?
Though I grew up poor, I was privileged to have a mother who taught me to read at a young age and a father who loved to tell stories. In fact, all of his friends were storytellers. I was surrounded by books, both at home and at school, and I devoured them.
I wrote from a young age. My mother said I would grab a pencil and scribble in magazines and notebooks. But I still remember the moment when I thought, “I’m going to be an author”. It was when I read Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight, which is the first of her Dragonriders of Pern series. The strong female hero, Lessa, ignited my imagination because it was the sort of character I think, subconsciously, I always wanted to write.
Thinking about other authors, who do you admire most?
Anne McCaffrey is a given! I also greatly admire Charles de Lint, Robin McKinley, and Marie Brennan.
Do you plan on writing more books in this series, or will you be working on other projects?
I may, one day, write a third Clara book but I have no immediate plans. At the moment, I’m about to work on the next volume of my Lands of Sun and Stone Series.
What have you found to be the most rewarding and also the most daunting experiences of writing fantasy fiction?
I think the most daunting experience is creating a world that isn’t a cliché. Someone once said that every story has already been told. Yet, authors need to find new ways of telling that story. It’s a constant challenge.
The most rewarding experience is hearing back from readers about how much they loved the story and how the connected with the characters. To make a character in a fantasy setting accessible to a reader is wonderful.
Where can our readers find out more about you and your work? Is there any way they can contact you?
Read more about Clara’s Return at Goodreads: