06 Feb

Meet the Members: Claire Thomas Hawnt

You asked for it – we’re delivering it! Welcome to our new feature… Meet the Members!

Every month, we will be interviewing one of you, our fabulous NWS members, about your writing practice and reading habits. We can’t wait to get to know you better!

We are looking for volunteers to be interviewed for upcoming newsletters! You don’t have to be an established writer to be featured – so if you’d like to volunteer, please reply to this email expressing your interest. You’d be doing us a favour!

This month, we interviewed Claire Thomas Hawnt!

Claire has been a member of NWS for over a year now and is a regular at our socials. She was also recently selected for the prestigious Writing East Midlands 2024 Momentum writers’ development scheme! What’s more she’s even running a workshop for us in April: How to Write Regularly Around All the Other Things You Have to Do.

Over to Claire…

NWS: Tell us about the book that made you want to write.

Claire: Written On The Body by Jeanette Winterson was the first non-linear book I ever read. I read it at fourteen, and it was an absolute revelation. It’s bold and crazy and adventurous , and it breaks a lot of the accepted norms of narrative structure. Although I was already writing by then, Written On The Body changed the way I wanted to write. It taught me to challenge narrative structure and to be brave in terms of the stories I want to tell and how I tell them. The friend who recommended it to me is a librarian now, so be warned – librarians really can change your life!

NWS: Who do you wish you could approach to ask for help when you struggle with putting down the right words or structure to your creativity?

Claire: The much-mourned Hilary Mantel, with her cool precision and her ability to manage very complex structures with apparent ease. Or Elizabeth Jane Howard, who was able to express very complicated emotions with a simple, almost poetic truthfulness.

NWS: What has happened to make you feel proud of your written output?

Claire: I was selected for the Writing East Midlands Momentum writers’ development scheme this year, after a very rigorous selection process. Last year when I applied I didn’t even get an interview!  So I really focused on building my writer’s portfolio and working on my book, and reapplied successfully this year. I’m really proud of that, and of the journey I’ve been on to get there.

NWS: Do you protect your writing time? How?

Claire: Absolutely! I need to, because I have a very busy life. I work four days a week, and live with my three lively sons and my husband in a small, noisy house. I always envy writers who have a dedicated writing space, as there’s no room for one in my house! I write in the sitting room with ear defenders on and I issue very creative threats to anyone who disturbs me while my ear defenders are on. I also have a cleaner once a fortnight, and I plan my writing time rigorously. If I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t get any writing done!

NWS: What do you think about writing groups and how have you experienced them?

Claire: I’ve been in a few and I love them. Writing is a very solitary occupation so a group can be a great source of feedback, reassurance and most importantly, learning. Writing groups are especially great  if you’re all writing in very different styles and genres – it keeps you fresh and challenges your thinking.

NWS: Where do you read and when?

Claire: I’m a compulsive reader, so I read in every spare minute I have! My favourite place to read is on my sofa with my feet up, or in bed. With a cup of tea by my elbow and a punnet of red grapes to snack on – it’s bliss.

NWS: What is your best benefit from being a part of NWS?

Claire: I love NWS! It’s really encouraged me to think of myself as a writer and to centre my writing in my life. I’m part of an online critique group which NWS organised which has been absolutely invaluable to me, and I love the monthly socials.

How to find Claire:

Insta: @tamburlainethegreat

Substack: clairethomashawnt.substack.com

Facebook: Claire Thomas Hawnt – Writer

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