Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start writing.
Writing has been a journey! Ever since I was old enough to hold a pencil, I’ve always loved reading and writing stories. In high school, I studied acting and dance, and won a scholarship for a play I wrote, directed and acted in. With that scholarship, I pursued a degree in English Literature with no plans how to utilize it. I took so many classes in anthropology “for fun” I ended up with a minor in anthropology! With the anthropology minor, I took on a job working in the kennels of a veterinary hospital. That turned into veterinary assistant job, and eventually, into a career as a veterinary technician and volunteer zookeeper aide. Once my daughter was born, I quit the veterinary hospital, and started writing full-time. I guess you could say everything came full-circle! My writing career took off and I couldn’t be happier.
Tell us about your books.
Clarissa Johal is the author of paranormal novels, THE ISLAND, VOICES, STRUCK, and BETWEEN. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s swinging from a trapeze, or taking pictures of gargoyles. She shares her life with her husband, two daughters, and every stray animal that darkens their doorstep.
How did you go about getting published?
The road to publication is trial and error and different for everyone. My first book was self-published. I submitted PRADEE to several traditional publishers and kept getting great feedback, but none were willing to take a chance on a new, unpublished author. I self-published out of frustration, ended up a second round finalist in Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, and got my foot in the door. To date, I’ve worked with five different publishers. They’ve run the gamut from smaller houses (Musa Publishing), to larger ones (Permuted Press). My latest (Booktrope) is a hybrid publisher. Hybrids are a new concept in the world of publishing, but I think authors will see more of them pop up in the future. Publishing is a journey. As an author, I look at each book, the requirements to make it successful, and my own time-frame. Then, I choose which publishing model works best for me, and run with it.
What is your writing process? Do you have a time, day or place you like to write?
I write Monday to Friday from 8-3PM, and then after everyone goes to bed, from 9-midnight. My ‘process’ will probably sound odd, but the characters usually come to me in a dream. I’ll write their story from beginning to end, non-stop, until the first draft is finished. (As an aside, they tell me what to write, not vice-versa. I said it would sound odd!) Then, I do my research and gazillion edits. A book will take me about a year to complete.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, pets, hobbies?
I have lots of hobbies! I’ve been dancing for 20 years; ballet, modern, tap and jazz. I also love photography, running, fencing and have been taking trapeze classes for the past year.
I also run a special needs pet-sitting business on the side, do wildlife rehabilitation, and volunteer at the ASPCA. (I write full-time, but worked as a veterinary assistant and volunteer zoo keeper’s aide many years ago.)
Any advice for authors about book covers?
Keep it simple and unique.
Any marketing tips you’d like to share with other authors?
This is a hotly debated topic among authors. My opinion: there’s no “one way” to market a book. Find a social platform you honestly enjoy and don’t force it.
What’s your favorite book?
Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock. The story is steeped in ancient mythology and gets into my head every time I read it.
What are you reading now?
Research books! I have a stack of them, but I just finished, ‘Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia’ by Carol Rose.
What’s your next book project?
I’m working on a re-release of my paranormal gothic horror STRUCK and a new spin-off from that book titled POPPY. Both should be released this year via Booktrope. I’ll leave you with the blurbs:
Struck by lightning…claimed by shadows.
Caught in a terrible storm, Gwynneth is struck by lightning. She wakes in the hospital with a vague memory of a mysterious stranger. Following her release, the stranger visits her at will and offers Gwynneth a gift—one that will stay the hands of death. Gwynneth is uncertain whether Julian is a savior or something sinister… for as he shares more and more of this gift, his price becomes more and more deadly.
A red-headed, pink-loving mortician who speaks to the dead.
A socially awkward funeral director.
Poppy and Dante from STRUCK are back.
Something is lingering around Skyview Funeral Home–and it’s stealing souls of the departed. With Dante in tow, Poppy is determined to put a stop to it. Will she be able to protect those who are trying to cross over? Or will her soul be next?