Interview With Author Clarissa Johal


Tell us something about yourself, Clarissa.  A mini-biography of sorts.

I started writing when I was young, as most writers do. My family moved around a lot and I was very shy. It was a way to make a connection where there was none. I also found it silenced the chattering in my head. I’ve lived in a lot of places, but for now, I live in North Carolina with my husband and two daughters.

Did you always want to be a writer?

I wanted to be a lot of things growing up! From a ballet dancer and actress, to an anthropologist and veterinarian.  I always wrote and had a few things published, but it didn’t occur to me that I could make a career of it until I hit thirty-five, after the birth of my first child. I guess I was a late bloomer.

What part of writing do you find the most fun?  The most difficult?

The actual writing part is the most fun. The part where you have the idea in your head and you write that first sentence, I love giving a voice to my characters. The most difficult part of writing is the ending. I hate endings. I hate saying good-bye to my antagonists, no matter how badly they behaved during my story. The protagonists are fine, but the antagonists seem to get the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

How much of your personal life do you incorporate in your writing?

I’m sure some of it creeps in there. It’s easy to write what you know. In BETWEEN, Lucinda is a veterinarian. I’ve worked in that field so I was comfortable writing about it. It was the first thing that came to mind when I decided what she should do for a living.

Tell us a little about what you’re working on right now.

I’m working on a paranormal horror titled STRUCK. I had the complete first draft but am rewriting the ending. My antagonist made me delete my original ending. He was being belligerent.

Is there anything surprising you’ve learned about the publishing industry that you’d like to share with us?

How much self-promotion goes into being successful. I struggle with that, big time.

There are lots of rules out there, like “show, don’t tell” and “don’t use adverbs”.  Are there any rules that you break and why?

I don’t write an outline before I start my story. I listen to my characters and their stories and write it all down. Later, I go back and edit of course, but my characters tell me what to write, not vice-versa.

What’s the most rewarding aspect about writing?

Making readers happy.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve learned so far?

Write, even on the days you feel like your writing is crap. Just write. If you end up with 5000 words and cut them all later, save for one sentence, that’s your one, brilliant sentence. Rejoice in that.

How would you describe your writing style and genre?

I write paranormal and paranormal horror.  And I love focusing on relationships, whether it’s a relationship with a paranormal entity or a touch of romantic tension between characters.

I love character-driven novels myself.  Can you tell me where you got the ideas for some of your characters and describe a few of them?

My characters come to me and tell me their stories. I like quirky characters and I like antagonists with dimension. There’s no such thing as a completely “evil” character. There’s a reason for their actions, a back story.  I like to show that in my novels.

Do you work on paper or a computer?  At home or in an office?  What time of day do you write and why?  How much do you write a day?

I mostly work on my computer. I’ve been known to write down ideas or sentences on my hand, arm, leg, whatever bit of skin is available though. I never seem to have paper when I need it. It’s not unusual for me to wake after a restless night with writing all over my body. That probably answers your other question too—I write when the inspiration strikes me. I discipline myself to write for six hours a day, when my kiddos are at school, but I can be struck by inspiration any time of day or night. I hate writing when other people are in the house, though. I can’t listen to the voices in my head.

Tell us three quirky facts about yourself that we wouldn’t normally find out.

1. I’m a little hyper and don’t like to sit still for too long. I’ll practice my ballet throughout the day to break up writing and sitting. I’m sure it looks silly if you were a fly on the wall.

2. I act out every scene to see if I have the physical part of it right, which shows you why I have a hard time writing with other people in the house.

3. I take my own coffee maker with me when I travel. Coffee is serious business.

Who is your favorite author in the whole world and why.

Neil Gaiman. He’s a master of storytelling. I love his novels and understand his concepts and ideas. Plus, I have a little writerly crush on him—but don’t tell my husband.

And, lastly, who has impacted your writing the most?

Robert Holdstock was a genius when it came to weaving mythology and fiction. Mythago Wood is my favorite book and series. I highly recommend it.



by Clarissa Johal

How far would you go to redeem yourself?

As a young girl, Lucinda was able to see spirits, a gift that didn’t come without its problems. Now, a dedicated young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that every life can be saved.

After a devastating accident, Lucinda tries to escape her past by moving to a small town. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him. But there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire.

As Lucinda is drawn into a bitter tug-a-war from the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life…but a battle for their salvation.



A young woman stood beside the bed, anguish on her face. She looked vaguely familiar, though Lucinda couldn’t place her. The forgotten colors of her blousy dress had faded into indistinct shades of grey. The woman grasped Lucinda’s hand and pressed a key into it. Lucinda felt the jagged, metal edges pricking her skin. Somewhere in the distance, a car engine roared to life. The woman’s lips moved but the growling engine drowned out all other sound. The sound became louder.

Growling. Darwin was growling.

“Darwin?” Lucinda woke with a start.

The shepherd growled again and hopped off the bed, padding into the living room.

A quiet knock sounded from the front door. Lucinda rolled out of bed to answer it.

Pushing Darwin aside to open the door, she peered sleepily into the moonlit night. A breeze blew across the clearing, stirring the grass. Confused, she shut the door before the breeze could make its way inside.

“Come on back to bed, Darwin. Nobody there.”

As she pulled the blanket up to her chin, the knocking started again.

Lucinda slipped out of bed and walked back into the living room. The sound clearly came from the other side of the door, faint but unmistakable. She slid her hand quietly over the knob. At once, the knocking stopped. Turning the knob slowly, she pulled the door open a crack, heart pounding in her chest.

“Hello?” An icy breeze slipped by her thigh as the scent of ozone assailed her senses. Her heart beat erratically. “Darwin, no!” The dog tried to push past her, growling once more. Rattled, Lucinda closed the door with a bang and locked it.

Lucinda lay in bed and shivered, unable to get warm. A chill slipped under her covers, stealing up her spine. The smell of roses clung to her blanket, the warmth from their scent seemed to be at war with the cold. An hour passed and she finally dropped off to sleep.

For the remainder of the night, the two unseen presences in her room remained at an impasse.



Clarissa Johal has worked as a veterinary assistant, zoo-keeper aide and vegetarian chef. Writing has always been her passion. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s dancing or taking photographs of gargoyles.

Clarissa shares her life with her husband, two daughters and every stray animal that darkens the doorstep. One day, she expects that a wayward troll will wander into her yard, but that hasn’t happened yet.

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