Like most authors, my love of writing stemmed from my love of reading. I can’t remember when I started. According to my mom, I started reading as early as 2 years. But moms are moms and they are known to exaggerate out of their love for their children. I was always known as the girl with a book in her hand and so it was natural that I tried to seek a career in it. After beating several different paths in life, I’ve finally made it to the one I love. One that involves dreaming and writing beautiful tales.
Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is titled Captive-Veiled Desires. Veiled Desires is the first book in the Captive series. This is the story about a young woman who embarks on an excited journey as a freelance photographer. She intends to explore the unknown and as a result chooses Kashmir as her first point of destination. However one day, she snaps a picture of a handsome man by a lake and this incident leads to her kidnapping. She is suspected to be a spy and thus her horror begins. Ironically, her only hope for freedom lies in the very man who is the cause of this chaos itself.
What do you have coming out in the future?
Wow, do the ideas ever stop churning! I am excited with the stories I have yet to tell and share with my readers. And I can’t wait to put them on paper quickly enough. But for the very near future I can reveal the following:
1. A Jar of Hearts. This is the second and final book about the romance between Anne Mullen, a blind woman and Eric Tanner, an assassin.
2. The Yearning. A story about two people who have lost a lot in life and are in still in the stages of mourning for their loved ones. But for some reason fate brings them together and they help each other to heal.
3. Claimed 2. A continuation of the dystopian fantasy romance between Jared Ryder, a chimera and the aristocratic daughter of a corrupt politician, Ellie Callum.
4. Captive- Royal Heat. This is the second book in the Captive series and stars Ethan Afridi, Adam’s brother.
Is your book a stand-alone or a series?
It is a stand-alone. However, it is a series in the sense it encapsulates the same theme and the same family.
Why romance and what makes your particular brand of romance special?
I love romances, whether they are in a book or a movie or on TV. I still have to figure ‘the why’ though. But I do realize it’s a lot to do with making me happy that I don’t get from other genres. There is a connection between two people, there is love and then there is the happily ever after. Sometimes, you don’t get the HEA but that’s okay. Because I went on a journey of love and that made up for it. Perhaps it is indeed due to my dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin levels that I love romances. But there is certainly a euphoria about romance.
So what does make my particular brand special? A Clarissa Cartharn romance offers readers a different plot in each book, centering about an important theme. For instance my first book, Winter’s End is about a widow, caught in small town gossip and who finds love in the oddest of all places. Red Collar is about a young woman who is trying to make ends meet for her family and as a result turns to prostitution as a final resort. But her principles are challenged when she starts falling in love with her first client. Claimed is about a man who discovers he is a chimera, a mutant with wolf and eagle genes. He falls in love with the daughter of a governor and thus begins the social and class divide in their love affair. Affairs and Atonement is about a young man who regrets his decisions as a youth and embarks on trying to seek atonement from the woman he had unfairly treated and as result discovers he still loves her. So in my romances, readers are guaranteed something new, adventurous and exciting.
Is romance the only genre that you write in or do you write in other genres? If so what other genres do you write in?
At present, romance is the only genre I write in. But if opportunity permits, I would love to try a thriller someday. Or perhaps, a crime drama or horror.
Inspiration comes from everywhere. Anything could spark it. I could be speaking to you and I would get inspired to write a story. The other day I was watching the news on TV and I thought “wow, that would make a great base for a story”.
Do you ever base your characters on real people in your life?
Rarely. The closest I have got to basing on real people were Emma Winston’s children in “Winter’s End”. The personalities of her children were based slightly on my own.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
When I am not writing, I am usually busy being the mom, the wife, the cook, the housekeeper or the designated cabbie for children as I rush them to and fro between their extracurricular classes. But when I do get the time for myself, I lose myself in a book or in the garden or have a game of tennis with the family.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
“Captive” was pretty easy to come up with since the theme of the book was regarding captivity. It was the subtitle, “Veiled Desires” which I had to work slightly harder for. The plot is set in Afghanistan, and as is customary there, women are required to cover their heads. “Veiled Desires” as a result hints at both:
The desires behind the veil
Those people who try to hide their feelings about someone
Do you read romance or do you prefer other genres?
I am eclectic in my reading preferences. I read what calls to me. I might read a romance one day, a thriller another or a biography the next.
What celebrity would you chose to play the main character(s) in the movie rendition of your book?
Oh dear (laughs). I’m going to dream big and say Jake Gyllenhaal for Adam Afridi and Rosamund Pike for Nora Jennings. I think Jake Gyllenhaal had made a fabulous dark prince in Prince of Persia and whose character Prince Dastan, is somewhat similar to Adam Afridi except with more brooding and drama. And because Gyllenhaal is a wonderful actor ranging in different styles of acting, he’d be able to pull off a dark, brooding Pashtun warlord such as Adam Afridi any day.
As for Rosamund Pike, I think she is gorgeous and her acting is absolutely top-notch. I loved her performance in Gone Girl. She is one of those rare actresses who can tear up and still look pretty doing it, which would be perfect for Nora Jennings.
What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
This would probably be the beginning of the plot and the conclusion. The beginning is important because that is the foundation. Everything is based upon that and if there are cracks, everything else begins to fall apart. Also you need to start off with a bang, something that will captivate the reader and make it worthwhile for them to continue on with the story. It is the lure, the bait.
The conclusion is important because you need to tie up everything at the end and you want to smoothen it and shine it so it doesn’t look abrupt. It must blend into the flow of the writing so the reader will get that closure they need.
What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?
For me, this would most probably be the idea itself. I have more than a dozen plot ideas in the pipeline. But to actually start working and turning them into a feasible tale- that is another story.
Which of your characters is your favorite and why?
I’ve always said my characters are like my children. You love them all, which makes it all the more hard to play favorites. But because I’ve just finished with Veiled Desires, I would have to go with Adam Afridi and Nora Jennings.
Adam is the dark, handsome mysterious stranger who comes to the aid of a helpless woman, falls hard in love, protects those he loves and does not shy from shedding that tear when needs be.
Nora has got an inner strength I love and admire. She pushes on despite her circumstances and does not submit to her oppressors so easily. She fights to survive and will do what it takes to win back her freedom.
What is your preferred writing environment?
I wish my husband could answer this. (chuckles) He has been trying relentlessly to tame and train me to sit on a desk. But like my reading, I love to write in different places. Sometimes it is the couch; other times the bed or the dinner table. I could write in the middle of noise and chaos. Those things don’t bother me at all. Because once I get immersed in the worlds of my characters, nothing else seems to exist.
When did you know you truly wanted to give writing a shot?
I’ve always wanted to write, but circumstances didn’t give me a chance until a few years ago. I suppose I would still be working in a dreary law firm if it had not been for my children. I quit working to raise them, but I quickly discovered I got bored between 9am and 3pm (their school hours). So one day I picked up my notebook and started typing. Never stopped since.
Do you have any advice for other writers and what is it?
Be yourself. Do what you’re comfortable with. I gave up imitating a long long time ago. I find more peace just writing what I love and doing what I do. My best wishes to Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele and Debbie Macomber. But I love being me and I am best doing it.
Wild Card Question.
As an author, what is the one question that you wish people would ask you, but no one ever has and what would your answer be to that question?
Why do I write about social themes? For instance it was prostitution in Red Collar and ‘bacha baazi’ in Captive- Veiled Desires.
While my main objective of my books is to entertain and produce titillating tales of love, I would like to use the opportunity to enlighten on certain problems affecting us as human beings. My most recent issue has been bacha-bazi in Veiled Desires.
‘Bacha-bazi’ is the Persian term for ‘playing with pre-pubescent boys’. It involves child sex slavery and prostitution of boys, some as young as nine years. It is an old Afghan tradition which is forbidden by both Afghan and Sharia law. However, most often authorities turn a blind eye to these cases because of the power bacha-bazi owners hold. We can only pray that one day this gruesome practice will stop.