Author Interview: Claire Merchant (Author of Christian and Layla)

I reviewed Ms. Claire’s book since I’m a monthly reviewer/ blogger at  Pegasus Publishers. and Ms. Claire was just so nice and keeps talking to me on Instagram and on Twitter. She’s so Nice.So here is my interview with Ms. Claire. Hope you enjoy it and I’d love to hear your thoughts down the comment section.


Here’s Ms. Claire’s Logo


Q: Hello, Ms. Claire, thank you again for accepting this interview request, would you mind telling us a little something about yourself?

A: Hi, Kenchi! Thanks for having me. Well, I am a Western Australian writer and published author of nine paperback novels and, so far, one self-published eBook. When I’m not writing, I have a part-time clerical job in a hospital. I love Disney and superhero films, I collect Pop! Vinyl figurines, and I think that the three most magical things in life are words, music, and nature.

Q: What genres do you feel comfortable writing Ms. Claire? What draws you into those specific genres?

A: I really enjoy writing general fiction, and fantasy/supernatural/magical fiction too. I tend to write more for teenagers through to young adults, and those young at heart. I enjoy writing those genres because they’re the genres I enjoy reading. All of my books I wrote for the reader in me. It’s just a bonus to be able to share my stories with other people too.

Q: Can you tell the viewers a little bit about your book? Which is Christian and Layla

A: The story is essentially a story about love, loss, and growing up. It follows two people, Christian Turner and Layla Thomas, who meet as fourteen-year-olds and fall in love. They grow up together and begin to build a future together, but then Layla suddenly leaves, and nobody knows why. Years pass, and eventually, they cross paths again. There are still some feelings there, but there are also obstacles between them – the biggest being why Layla left. The toughest part for Christian is feeling like he doesn’t know the one person in the world who he thought he knew better than anyone. For Layla, it’s knowing that she has acted to try and protect people, but instead has hurt them in another way all together.

Q: Can you please tell us what made you want to write Christian and Layla?

A: I got the first concept of Christian and Layla from a dream I had, where there were two young people in love who get engaged, and the girl didn’t end up making it to their engagement party. I wrote Layla’s part – the first part, about three years before I wrote Christian’s part (back then Layla’s story was just known as ‘Prior Engagement’). In 2013, I went back to the characters and decided to add to it by adding Christian’s ‘Post Encounter’ story. Originally, I was going to release Christian’s part as an eBook, but in talking to my editor, I decided to put the two parts together and release them as a two-part novel. I think it works well with the two of them together.

Q: Please give us an insight into your main characters. What do these characters do that makes them special?

A: They’re special because they’re characters that never really lose belief in first love. Christian and Layla meet when they’re fourteen, and although they both change from then to when they’re twenty-three, one thing that hasn’t seem to have changed is the love and the belief they have in each other. Even if they doubt themselves when they’re apart, they never doubt the goodness in each other.

Here’s the picture of the book cover of Christian and Layla 


Q: The cover is simple but I really like it, can you tell us how it came about?

A: I liked the thought of having just a few significant symbols on the cover that represent the story. I didn’t want to have either of the characters on there because I want readers to be able to make up their own minds about what they specifically look like, even if I’ve described them how I see them.

Q: Who designs your book covers?

A: My paperback book covers have been designed by the graphics team at Pegasus Publishers. I come up with some ideas and they compile some concepts for me. After my first book, Mistry by Moonlight, I started sketching designs so the process was quite quick and the team did a fantastic job at making exactly what I had in mind for them. The cover for my eBook, Foresight, was made by me, and when I have time to get some more eBooks on Amazon, I’ll make those covers too.

Q: Do you think that the cover plays an important role in the buying process?

A: Absolutely. As much as the saying goes not to judge a book by its cover, they’re still the first things we see when we’re browsing for a read. Pictures and images are a form of reading in itself, so I think the cover needs to draw someone in enough to read the blurb or, if all goes well, turn the page.

Q: While writing your book, specifically Christian and Layla did you encounter a “writer’s block”? If so, which part of the book?

A: I got really stuck at the end of the book, the end of Layla’s story after she returns from Almanbury to talk to Maddie. I literally paused and wrote an entire other novel and went back to it at a later date. I got stuck because I really wanted to keep the story going, even if I knew it was winding up. So when I went back to it, I tied up the story and that was that.

Q: Christian and Layla is a standalone novel. Do you think you’ll ever write a love story that’d be a Duology, Trilogy or a Series?

A: Given the fact that I originally wrote it as two stories, and it’s in two parts, I feel like this novel is a bit like a duology in itself. But I have written a trilogy—my Mistry Trilogy—which has a love story that runs through the three books. In one way or another all of my novels incorporate a love story into them. When it comes to character construction, everyone has someone they love, whether they are present or not. Love is one thing that makes someone who they are, so it’s a component in all of my stories, even if some just aren’t as “romantic” as others.

Q: What are you working on at the moment? Can you tell us what’s it about?

A: I am working on six ideas at the moment – I always seem to have about that many on the go. I have a sequel to another book I’ve written (Dangerously Beautiful), an origin story for Cole Frost (of Forever Ruby), and a story of Amelia Saber (who is Samuel Saber’s sister of South Coast Son). The other three are new characters – Elizabeth, Cassia, and Ariel. One is about a girl who remembers her past lives, the second is a supernatural vibe to it (and features some characters from my Mistry Trilogy); and the last one is a bit spiritual. I’m still throwing ideas around at the minute. I don’t like to talk too much about the ones in development because they can drastically change in an instant.

Q: How are you publishing this book, and why? (Indie, Traditional or both)

A: Christian and Layla is published a paperback through Pegasus Publishers as a kind of partnership. I’ve had a good experience working with them on my other books, so I chose to published this book through them too.

Q: What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

A: The advantage of publishing through a publisher is you have a team of people who know the industry and can help you with things like promotion and spreading the word, which can be difficult for an author. People are more likely to take a recommendation to read a book from a publisher than by someone who wrote it. That’s probably the downside to self-publishing – marketing and promotion is self-managed. The downside to having a publisher is probably also the upside to self-publishing – you have complete control over the copyright of your manuscript and can distribute it as you wish. Also, depending on the contract you have, it can also be more cost effective to self-publish. Both have their pros and cons, I think it just comes down to what’s going to work best for you and following that path. Depending on the type of agreement you have with a publisher, you can always do both.

Q: When did you become a writer?

A: I’ve been writing from when I was a kid. I got more into writing proper stories when I was about twelve, and started my first novel when I was around fifteen. By the time I was at university, I’d finished a couple of novels. A couple of those have been published in the last few years.

Q: When did you decide to be a writer?

A: I don’t think it was a conscious decision. I just really enjoyed writing from when I was young, so it was a hobby and kind of a wish fulfilment. It wasn’t until recent years that I realised I could actually make it something bigger.

Q: Why do you write?

A: I write because I need to. If I wasn’t publishing my stories, I’d still be writing. I feel like I need to tell the stories that I’m telling, but it’s a bonus to have them available for people to enjoy too.

Q: Can you give us a list of all the books you have written?

A: It’s a really long list. I’ve written 25 books, ten which are currently available – maybe if I list the ten it’ll be easier! There’s my Mistry Trilogy: Mistry by Moonlight, Midnight Mistry and Mistry at Dawn. Then South Coast Son, Forever Ruby, Knowing Nora, A Lady Born A Pirate Bred, Christian and Layla, Finding Hope, and lastly, my eBook, Foresight.

Q: Do you write every day? 5 days a week or you just write when you feel like it?

A: I try to write every day. At least, I write ideas down every day as I get them. Sometimes it’s as small as sending myself an email, sometimes it can be a few thousand words. Since I also work part time, some days are better than others in terms of blocks of times to write. I can normally find time for it because it’s something that I need to do. I make time for it.

Q: While writing a book do you aim a set amount of words or pages per day?

A: No, I never put a deadline on myself. I try to write what I can in one sitting, until my ideas start to slow, then I stop. I never push myself to write if I don’t have a natural flow because I feel like it comes across forced. Sometimes taking a break and going for a walk is more beneficial than forcing out a set amount of words.

Q: Where do your ideas come from?

A: I get my ideas from everywhere. Anything can spark an idea, like personal experiences, or songs, conversations with people, pictures, and even some dreams I’ve had. Once I have a general premise for a story and I get to know the main character, it becomes a bit easier to pick the ideas out.

Q: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

A: As a writer, I’ve learnt a lot in the last few years. It’s funny actually, because I had written so many stories before I got my first one published (Mistry by Moonlight was the twelfth novel I’d written), so now when I read back over the earlier stuff, they need a lot of editing. I think that’s the beauty of writing though, you’re always learning, always growing. My voice as a writer evolves as I read more, write more, and experience more things.

Q: What is the hardest thing about writing?

A: I find that the hardest thing about writing isn’t writing itself, it’s the distractions and life chipping into the time brackets that I have. But it’s what I love, so if too many distractions happen, I’ll normally try and withdraw for a while to focus.

Q: Why do you think other well written books just don’t sell?

A: That’s the question. I think part of it comes down to marketing and promotion. For instance, something like leaving a review for a great book is a very powerful thing. I also think that since it’s a bit harder these days to walk into a bookstore and just browse through what’s out there, it can be more difficult for a book to stand out. It’s a tough one though, I don’t know for sure, but I think word of mouth is the most powerful selling point for well written books.

Q: What do you think of “Trailers” for books?

A: I think they’re fantastic. They have a great way of drawing people in, both avid readers and reluctant readers. They appeal to the senses and promote the book in an interesting way.

Q: Do you have a trailer or do you intend to do one in the future?

A: I have trailers for some of my books – my publisher, Pegasus Publishers, has made book trailers for about six of my books. I love them, they’re incredible.

Q: In what formats are your books available?

Nine of my books have been published through Pegasus Publishers as paperbacks, but my first novel, Mistry by Moonlight, is also available as an eBook. My self-published story, Foresight, is an eBook too. I haven’t made that one available in paperback.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

A: My advice is to never give up, and to always remember why you’re writing. The book business is a tough one, so whatever happens, just keep writing because no-one can take away from you. Also, keep reading, because you learn through reading. There is always something to learn, and there are always opportunities to develop your craft.


Here are the list of Ms. Claire’s Social Media Accounts  and Website.




Twitter: @sailorclaire


Amazon Author Page:



Thank You Again to Ms. Claire for accepting my interview request. hope we can do more in the future and I’ll be annoying you on Twitter and on Instagram every now and then.

I’d Love to hear your thoughts about my interview. you can comment down what questions I should ask on my next Author Interviews.



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