Clare Rhoden is a writer, blogger, and book reviewer. Inspired by politics, culture, and history, she writes thoughtful stories about characters with heart and soul. From immersive world-building in science fiction and fantasy, to well-researched details in historical novels, her books pivot on hope and love in the darkest of times. Clare lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and their very clever spoodle.
Clare’s books include a dystopian/sci-fi trilogy titled The Chronicles of the Pale, and a historical fiction book predominantly set in WWI – The Stars in the Night
What moved you to write The Stars in the Night after learning your grandparents’ story?
My father was orphaned quite young – his mum died when he was nine, his dad when he was sixteen – and I think that left a great mark on him. So I never met my grandparents, but heard stories of them on the rare occasions when Dad spoke about his childhood. He also kept a shoebox of their love letters, quite an amazing thing for a teenage boy to hang on to.
It’s those letters that gave me insight into the time, how it was for immigrants during the Great War, but also how the Port Adelaide community helped my grandparents and accepted them in the years afterwards. Grandfather Paul was sent away from the Port during the war as an ‘enemy alien’, and my grandmother had to stay alone with her baby in one rented room. Without good people around them, her life would have been very dark.
My book is a kind of love letter or poem of gratitude to Port Adelaide.
What adventures can we expect Harry to go on?
Harry is a pretty typical Aussie bloke, who wouldn’t mind volunteering to do anything. He’ll have a go at most things, and only later will he consider something might have been quite dangerous. He’s your quintessential annoying brother in some ways, but you can also always rely on him if you need help, anytime, anywhere. He has a really, really good heart.
Harry’s not the most handsome, or the richest, or the most educated man you’ll ever meet, but he’s steadfast, honest, courageous, and resilient. If he loves you, he’s in for the long haul.
Why Australian WWI literature? What drew you to that era?
I’m a student of history, of literary history as well as history itself. The Great War saw huge changes not only in society, but also in writing. The traditional hero became an introspective fellow; traditional adventure books were overtaken by novels about relationships; traditional roles for men and women were disrupted. I consider that era to be the start of the modern novel. Add to that the arrival of my family in Australia, and it’s a very interesting time for me. New stories, new lives, new country.
What inspires you when you hit writer’s block?
I generally have more than one project on the go at any one time, so if I feel lost in one world, I move to another one until the ideas can percolate. So if my cozy mystery is stalling, I move to my medieval fantasy and see what the folk are up to there. It’s always nice to check in on a different world.
I find that ideas do their own thing in the background. It’s nothing to do with me! Every character seems to have a private life quite apart from what I think of them…
What advice would you give a young writer trying to get published?
Keep reading, keep writing, start submitting.
Then do it all over again!
It’s also important to do your research. Give yourself the best chance of being published, by sending your writing to the most likely home. It’s not enough to say ‘This piece of mine is brilliant! Any publisher would love this!’, because even a great piece of writing in the wrong submission box will be rejected. Make sure you have read something that the publisher publishes, and that you follow their submission guidelines.
How many books have you written? What is your favorite?
Next you’ll be asking me to name a favourite child! Oh my goodness what a question.
I have been fortunate in having one academic book, three study guides, and four novels published (so far!). I am very proud of The Stars in the Night, for family reasons and because I put so much research into it.
However (don’t tell the others), my favorite at the moment is The Ruined Land – the final installment of my dystopian sci-fi series, The Chronicles of the Pale. I’m very excited about its recent release and so pleased with how the story comes together. Completing the arc of the storyline for so many characters is very exciting. I love them all!
Describe your writing style in three words.
Compassionate. Engaging. Storyteller.