Writers of WHQ: An Interview with Jo Clark

5 minute read
Author: Jo

In case you didn’t know, the Writers’ HQ writing community is the actual, literal best in the universe, full of amazingly talented and generous writers who make our little corner of the internet a very nice place indeed.

And so, we decided to show some of ’em off as a part of our monthly Writers of WHQ interview series.

Get to know our amazing WHQ members — how they write, what makes them tick, their influences, inspiration, top tips and favourite stories — and see just how different each and every writer is. ‘Cause there’s no one ‘right’ (write?) way to do things, right?

So please welcome to the stage: WHQer, writer, flash-fictioner, and fabulous community member Jo Clark!

Tell us about your writing journey — where did you start, where are you now, and how did you get there?

Started writing at school, forgot how to when I was doing corporate career stuff, forgot how to even hold a pen when I had kids, then started again when inspiration struck me in my late 30s. In late 40s finally found time to research and try and start the novel idea I’d been nursing for a decade, then within a year or two that spiralled and I was suddenly sitting with three WIPs and not a clue how to actually execute them.

Gif of Lesley Nielsen slapping a computer terminal as reams of paper eject at high speed

Luckily was a non-employed housewife at the time, did an Oxford Uni short 6-week online course to kid myself that I knew how to structure stuff, and indulged the itch to write; WIP1 grew to 80k, WIP2 to approx. 40k and WIP3 to around 35k words…

When had to start working again aged 52 they went on the back burner until I found WHQ and did a couple of real life retreats. During the pandemic WIP2 got scrapped entirely, WIP3 got completely burned to the ground and replotted in a different historical era, culture, setting, etc – just the bones of the idea remained – and WIP1 just got longer but with no clear direction. Then I discovered flash fiction. Or rather, I got dragged into Flash Face Off by my hair and couldn’t escape. I’m now exactly a year into my flash addiction, and just starting to rekindle the love for WIP1 and try and shake it into shape. I predict the Priory should soon start offering flash fiction rehab – I know I’m not the only one who needs it – and when I go in I’ll probably be the first to smuggle in an iPod with a link to FFO. I’ve not had many things published but I’ve had a few longlistings this year and recently took 3rd prize with a dinky little flash story of my own. Right now I’m happier and more confident about my writing than I’ve ever been, and WHQ has been instrumental in that journey.

Do you have a writing routine? How do you work best?

No routine. Chaos. Inspiration and motivation to continue often come from laughter-filled phone calls with other writer friends from WHQ.

What are you working on at the moment?

WIP1 is getting a thorough check-up with a view to actually finishing it, but I’ve also got a collab novel WIP with a WHQ buddy, and yeah, there’s always my flash addiction… gotta get that fix…

What advice would you give to a writer starting out?

Join WHQ, and jump in with both feet. Don’t worry about hitting the bottom, there isn’t one…

Gif of a military cartoon character leaping off the edge of a building and freefalling

What’s the piece of writing you’re proudest of (and why)?

I’m never proud of my writing. I need to work on this. [Ahem-hem]

What are the main challenges you face with your writing?

Time and discipline. And self-belief. Just tiny things, really. LOL

What are you currently reading?

Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov. Just finished reading Andrew O’Hagan’s stunning new novel Mayflies for the second time.

What’s your favourite part of the Writers’ HQ Community?

Flash Face Off because it is such a collegiate, developmental space, and everyone is so supportive of each other – and because it exposes me constantly to writing I wouldn’t necessarily pick up and read in a bookshop.

And finally, give us three recommendations of writers or stories you love.

Anything by Ursula K Le Guin, anything by Kurt Vonnegut, and I’m currently laughing my socks off with Lucien Young’s 2019 clever and hilarious collection of modern day poetry in a renaissance format, #Sonnets

<strong>Jo Clark</strong>
Jo Clark

Jo Clark is a developing writer living in the north of England, a landscape that inspires a lot of her writing. She works for a youth sailing charity; when not working or writing, she enjoys sailing, running, hiking and rowing.
She is currently working on a novel set in the neolithic, a novella-in-flash set in 1970s Yorkshire, and collaborating on another novel that *may* contain zombies. She started writing flash fiction in 2021 with WHQ. She’s been lucky enough to achieve longlistings this year in V300 and Flash500, and recently took 3rd place in the Spring 2022 Propelling Pencil Flash Fiction competition.

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