I know I have been promising this guest for quite a while now but finally, at last, I am delighted to welcome to Friday Night Drinks, the founder of The Fiction Cafe Book Club, my favourite corner of the internet, my online writing group, The Fiction Cafe – Writers Group and a host of other brilliant related Facebook groups we will talk about later….. drumroll…….Wendy Clarke!
Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening, Wendy, glad you finally made it! First things first, what are you drinking?
Had you asked me that this time last year it would have been anything from a pink gin and ginger ale to a Bailey’s but in April last year I gave up alchol and started drinking water!
Now though, it’s coffee. I’m a little bit of a coffee addict!
At last, I’m not the only non-drinker at the table (if only for another six days anyway). If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
I rarely go out as I prefer the quiet, warm of my home around my family, but if we were going ‘out out’, I’d take you to my daughter Bethany’s work place, which is a Cocktail Bar, restaurant. The Oat Hill which is in Market Harborough. She is training to be a chef. I’d treat you to a three-course meal from the A La Carte menu, cooked by my beautiful daughter.
I would really enjoy that. You must be very proud. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
Ooh, I have no idea on this one. I’m not that wowed by celebrities. I’d probably rather spend the time talking together. If I had to choose someone, maybe the character’s Joey Tribiani and Phoebe Buffet, from Friends I think they would be pretty funny to spend time with. Plus Joey doesn’t share food so no sharing would be needed!
Good choice! So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
Well, 2018 was a really busy year and I didn’t get a lot done due to illness and busy groups. I have totally failed at getting my book edited, which I had planned to finish by end of last year. I need to knuckle down and get that done. The debut is a thriller but may be leaning a little more toward crime. I have several ideas for further novels all floating around in my head. Two of which will be books two and three with similar themes. They are both themed with something I’m really passionate about and feel will help people connect.
Aside from my writing, the Fiction Café groups have been my most valued achievement. I started off by creating a little book group which would be a welcoming, friendly environment for people to talk about books. What I’ve managed to create, with the help of several admins, past and present, and of course the wonderful Tera Tidwell who was co-founder of the Café, is a group where people want to spend their time. We have also expanded in the last two years and now have a ‘franchise’ of additional groups, I’m not sure if franchise is the correct word, but sister groups doesn’t quite feel right either. With our other groups we also offer a unique element of respect and kindness which isn’t found in many book clubs. I do feel very proud of what I have achieved and although it is one hell of lot of work behind the scenes ensuring the group runs smoothly, I couldn’t do it without my wonderful admins. The last few months have been really tough but they have all supported me in a way you wouldn’t believe and I think the team we have currently, together will achieve great things. I can’t thank them enough for what they do for me and the groups and for their friendship.
You have truly created something remarkable in The Fiction Cafe. It is a friendly, fun, respectful group where there is never any nastiness, just a love and joy of books. It is totally my favourite place online and I have made some great friends there, so thank you! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?
Oh most definitely the Fiction Café groups. I probably should have read ahead and added that here!
What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!
My dream is to publish and hold my paperback in my hand and sell one signed book! It’s a very simple dream, I’m not bothered about being successful, although obviously that would be nice, I just want to write, publish and sell my novel to show people I can. It isn’t a pipe dream, it will be my future. Ideally, I’d like to be a writer full time. I’d love to write a crime series with many books in it but I am very far off from that at the moment.
We share the same dream there, along with a lot of other members of The Fiction Cafe – Writers Group. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?
My debut. It is my first novel that has taken a different turn from the original storyline that I had but I think it will be a shocker. People who know me will be surprised at my dark side. I write under a pen name of Madison Ward.
I also have another project for an anthology that nobody knows about so this is exclusive news! It wont be out until after my debut novel so unfortunately you will have a little wait yet.
Wow, a scoop! How exciting! You heard it here first, folks. Thank you for sharing that with me. I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
I have a funny story about bucket lists actually. When I first started dating Phil, we used to talk about all the things we would do together and we did create a bucket list of things to do. The first one though was funny because I didn’t know the name for it so I said I wanted to roll down a hill like a hamster. It was actually zorbing but we still laugh about it today because I didn’t know the name for it! Generally, bucket lists are full of cray things people want to do but mine is mainly countries I want to travel to. My favourite place that I’ve been to was Italy. I absolutely love the culture and food. I also loved Corfu. Once day I would like to live the dream of writing books while by the side of the pool in the Greek sunshine… Ah, we can all dream!
Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.
I don’t know that there is anything, I was very briefly in a stunt team before I had my daughter but that isn’t anything new to group members of The Fiction Café.
It will be news to some of my readers though! Stunt woman, amazing. Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
This is a very personal thing as everyone has different preferences of genre. I recently read the Chris Carter series of Robert Hunter which was really good. They were very gruesome so not for the squeamish but I like that kind of theme. I started those after reading the most gruesome and sick book called Lines of Justice: Azdaja by Lee Sherred. This was truly shocking but the best book I’ve read for a while. You should definitely read it if you like dark crime thrillers.
I’m not sure this might not be too gruesome for me. It’s funny, isn’t it, because you’d never imagine Lee would write that kind of thing when you talk to him in the Cafe! So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
If I drink alcohol, the trick is not to mix spirits and lager! That is the rule to not getting a hangover! But if you do go a little crazy, a pint of water before bed and a banana always ensures I wake up with a smug smile on my face.
Never tried a banana, I’ll have to give that a go. After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
I’m happy at home, so after spending time with my family, curled up watching Netflix with a blanket and a cup of coffee. I like an easy life and don’t feel the need to go out all the time. A nice field to park up the caravan where we can take the dogs for a walk on a nearby beach and stop off at the local pub for a cider (Obviously local Cornish cider is a must and the only time I generally make an exception to break the no alcohol rule).
Thank you so much, Wendy, for chatting with me this evening, it’s been delightful. And thank you for creating some of my favourite Facebook groups, you have definitely enriched my life!
If you are interested in exploring the marvellous groups Wendy has created on Facebook (and you should), please follow her social media links below:
Facebook: Madison Ward
Next week I will have novelist and stalwart of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Elaine Everest, joining me for the evening, so please call back then.