Author, Clarke Collins
About the author: Clarke Collins is a not-so-average Midwestern American mom by day and vivid dream wrangler by night. Aside from her vast consumption of romance and speculative fiction novels, her writing inspiration comes from an array of influential talents, across artistic disciplines and genres. A perfect life for Clarke is one filled with books and infinite time to read them all.
Describe yourself in five words: Misfit, Mystical, Frustrating, Empathic, Cosmic.
Tell us about your writing/editing/publishing process: I have no standard writing process. On the surface it may seem I’m well-organized. I have folders upon folders of notes, research, outlines, log lines, you name it. But when it comes down to actual writing, I’m what they call a pantser(as in, fly by the seat of my pants). By the way, I take no ownership of that term. I read it somewhere and it stuck. But let me not sidetrack. Basically, when a story idea comes to me, I go with it and try to reach whatever destination it’s taking me to.
Salty or sweet? Both of course (I mean, have you had Garrett’s caramel and cheese popcorn? Orgasmic. #WhyChoose
Who or what inspired your latest release, “Ice Cream Castles” That’s a long story, but to shorten it, a couple of things. One was an offhand comment a woman made about being older and single and preferring younger men. I wanted to explore the dynamic of that, including race and class with a touch of angst (such as the side issue of divorce).
What is your go-to website or book for writing help? There are many, but one that stands out most is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I love it because it’s encouraging, inspirational, and very humorous. I could really relate to a lot of what she talks about in the book.
How did you celebrate your first release? Well, I was visiting my when the book was released. They didn’t have a clue I was publishing it. I broke the news to them and in return got a high-five from my stepdad and a glass of Baileys from my mom.
People would be surprised to know that you…: That I was in the military. Yes, among other adventures I’ve had.
If your fans were to spend a day with you, where would you take them? I would take them to some of my favorite Chicago spots: Margie’s Candies, The Mag Mile, The Alley, Smart Bar and The Green Mill (to name a few).
What do you love about writing in your genre? Writing emotion, delving into the psyche. I tend to be very introspective, which I know can get iffy when it’s overkill, but I find that’s the place I’m most comfortable in. The romance genre deals a lot with love, hate, and fear, three very strong emotions that allow me to really explore in ways I may not be able to do in other genres.
If you were to meet any other author, who would it be? That’s a tough one. I admire so many. For those still with us, I’d have to go with Toni Morrison. It would be super intimidating, because her talent and intelligence is beyond anything I could dream of possessing. But because she’s such an evocative and astute author, I just want to bask in her sunshine for just a moment. See where all that brilliant light comes from.
What do you want readers to take away from your books? I want them to have an emotional journey. Beyond that, I hope they take away a sense of satisfaction, however they interpret the work. I just want them to be satisfied that they took a chance, and the story was worth their hard-earned dollars.
What are you working on right now? I was working on a horror anthology, but sadly, I have to postpone its release until next year and jump to the next book, a contemporary fiction about a divorcee starting over. It’s something different than what I’ve published so far. Which is being met with skyward eyebrows by some of my peers. I’m constantly told to stay on brand, but I don’t roll that way. If I want to tell a story, I tell it. My work’s not a marketing ploy.
“ICE CREAM CASTLES” by Clarke Collins
**On sale for only $0.99! Get it on Amazon now!
As a surprise for Kevin, Eli’s detour to Scoopy’s Ice cream stand had proven a mistake. He approached the order window, ignoring the long line of angry faces shooting daggers in his direction.
“Dude, can’t you see there’s a line here?” someone yelled.
Eli fixed his gaze on the attractive but frazzled African-American woman behind it. At first, she didn’t look up from the register, giving him a chance to study her closely. She had a pretty but lived in face. Her dark brown hair was pulled back in a neat bun with a few loose strands springing from the sides. Though she wore no makeup, her earthy skin tone, radiant and twice baked by the sun, made up the difference. Her head tilted to meet his gaze. He took in her tight smile with passing annoyance.
“Excuse me sir but the line starts back there,” she said nodding in his direction.
“I’m not here to wait. I already did that. I’m here because of this–”
He held up a receipt and waited for her response. Her tired brown eyes seemed to measure him for a moment, as though finding him lacking, looked past him to the line. The dismissal stoked his frustration.
“Miss..” he began, but she halted him with a glance. He knew her kind. Just one of the countless women he’d crossed before. Steeped in bitterness. Biding their time through the drudgery of minimum wage employment. Angry at the world. He braced himself for the insult he was certain sat cocked on the tip of her tongue. Instead, she sighed.
“How may I help you, sir?”
Insults not forthcoming and her full attention granted, he found himself momentarily caught off guard.
“I…um…have this…” He held up the receipt again. She smiled; a genuine one. A pair of dimples peeked from her cheeks and her eyes lit with something close to amusement. As fleeting as it was, it captivated him. Why was she smiling at him now, and most important, why did it make him feel as though he was the luckiest man on earth?
He emerged from his daydreams to find the woman now glaring at him. So much for that.