Wednesday, 08 August 2018 - Author Interviews Interview with The Runaway author Claire Wong

Lion Fiction author, Claire Wong, won Foreward Review's Gold award for her debut novel, The Runaway. Read the full article about her award here. The Runaway is Claire's first novel. A rich and powerful story, The Runaway explores the power of stories and human interconnectedness.

Claire studied Classics at Oxford University. In 2005, she won the Owen Sheers Poetry Prize, and in 2006, the Laurie Magnus Poetry Prize. Claire works in charity communications, where she has the privilege of sharing uplifting stories through press releases, newsletters and articles every day.

Here Claire chats with us about what inspired her to write The Runaway, the characters who surprised her, and her next wonderful Lion Fiction title, A Map of the Sky — out in July, 2019!

What first inspired you to write The Runaway?

Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of people struggling with big questions about their identity and place in the world. I think The Runaway started out as a letter to all the Rhiannons out there who desperately need to hear that they are doing OK and that the world is better than it looks right now.

How much of you is there in your characters?

There's quite a lot of tea and cake consumed in this book, and that is certainly a reflection of what I consider important in life!

Did any of the characters in your book surprise you while writing?

Definitely Diana. When I started writing from Rhiannon’s perspective, I knew that this girl who loves fairy tales needed someone to take the role of the wicked stepmother, at least as far as she viewed her world. In creating Diana, I drew from some real life characters I had observed, who took charge in small communities and seemed to enjoy that sense of importance. I didn’t expect to like Diana, but as I wrote about her I found myself sympathizing more and more with this woman who is under so much pressure, even if a lot of it is self-imposed. She’s more complicated and interesting than I intended.

What is the worst job you’ve done?

I briefly worked in a cemetery one summer, and it was actually really interesting. The trouble was that although I was fascinated by everything I was learning about environmentally-friendly burial options, it made for quite morbid after-work conversations and I think I scared some of my friends.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

I’ve learned that I value being kind more than being right.

Who would your fantasy dinner guests be?

I like to think that Jane Austen and I would get on very well, which is probably down to how much her books have influenced my sense of humour. I’d also invite Virgil (the Roman poet, not the character from Thunderbirds) as I think he’d bring an excellent bottle of wine as a gift, and Walter Raleigh for some good travel anecdotes over dessert.

What are you working on now? Can we expect any more books from you in the future?

Yes! Right now I'm busy editing my next Lion Fiction novel, A Map of the Sky, a story about childhood adventures, chronic illness and the North Yorkshire coast. A Map of the Sky is due to publish in July, 2019.

Enjoy reading The Runaway. Buy your copy here!

Interested in learning more about Claire? Check out her wonderful website here or follow her on Twitter at @ClaireRWong.