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2024: Bring It On. Or Else

I have earned my living as a writer for nearly fifteen years. I’ve won screenwriting prizes, I was shortlisted for the BBC Writers’ Academy and featured as a Crime in the Spotlight writer at Bloody Scotland. Dark of Night hit multiple Scottish bestseller lists, and my original audio series for Storytel is in development with Apple TV.

The other week I woke up at 5am in a blind panic and bought myself a beginners’ novel writing course.

Welcome to being a writer.

At film school, we often chatted about how we would know we’d made it. Some of us thought it would be as soon as we earned money from our writing.

If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented - Stephen King

Others said we’d know when something we wrote was published or made it to screen. Still others reckoned it would be when we’d won an award or been recognised by a professional body.

I’ve achieved every one of these, and yet perpetually feel as though I’m a fresh-faced, hopeful kid just starting out. This is the year I’m going to make it, I tell myself every New Years, forgetting how I made it the previous year and three years before that also.

I’m feeling it keenly with the launch of Chances Are for a few reasons.

One is that it’s a bit different. I spent over a year trying to force the story into a romance series and it was a bit like trying to squish a pillow into a condom. Some of you were there for that. I appreciate your patience! It’s women’s fiction, strictly speaking, but it’s more steamy women’s fiction. Wrapped up in a scandal and some crime, and… oh, it’s a bit funny.

The best way I can describe it is to say it’s like a soap in fiction form. Whether Coronation Street or Greys Anatomy, what I love about soaps is the way they weave romance, mystery, ambition and friendship through multiple storylines.

Chances Are is set in the world of a big budget fantasy series shooting in Glasgow. Hollywood Wives meets Taggart. If you’ve read The Shadow City, then you know the big budget fantasy series — yes folks, we have a book-within-a-book situation here!

It’s mad, I know. But I love it.

At the forefront is Eden — the showrunner who escaped LA with a broken heart — and director Maeve — a Glasgow girl who could start a fight in a paper bag. Their friendship is the true central relationship of the series, though sparks fly when the handsome but troubled Fraser buys Eden a Greggs sausage roll, and Maeve rushes to the hospital with leading lady Poppy only to be confronted with someone she never thought she’d see again…

The other reason I am such a basketcase about it, is that it may be the most personal story I’ve ever written.

While it’s not directly autobiographical, it explores many of the topics I am passionate about, from Scottish culture to the history of Hollywood and being a woman in the film industry. It’s inspired by both the industry I worked in for over a decade, and my passion project of hospital volunteering (I did mention Greys Anatomy for a reason…!) I won’t say Maeve is me, but I will say that if she existed, folk would forever be saying to her, “you must meet Claire, you two would get on so well…”

You see, I’ve decided that this is the year I make it.

Once and for all.

For the first time in many years, I’m out on my own — no screenwriting deal or active publishing contract. Just me and my stories — and all the delusion. Fika Books is going to become such a juggernaut that even I can’t deny its success any more.

That’s the plan.

This newsletter is a no-holds-barred diary on how it does.


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