I’m not going to lie to you… I may have squeaked, just slightly, when Clare Lydon agreed to do this interview.
After all, she is one of my favourite authors! And, in fact, she and T.B. Markinson were the first Sapphic Fiction authors I discovered, back in 2021, with their book One Golden Summer. Clare has countless Sapphic books out, all of which are incredible reads, from cosy village romance A Taste of Love to her city-based London Romance series. And she also has a fabulous sense of humour – when I asked her what she’d prefer to be called in this interview, as I did with everyone, she answered “Goddess, but Clare will do”.
Her wish is my command, I suppose. Over to you, Sapphic Fiction Goddess…
Introduce yourself! Tell us a little bit about you - who are you, and what do you do?
I write contemporary sapphic romances that sparkle with quirky characters, British wit, and all the feels. I have 22 novels out, and there are more coming this year. I also co-host the Lesbians Who Write podcast, and have spoken at queer festivals and prides around the country. When I'm not writing, I watch far too many home improvement shows, while drinking nuclear-strength coffee & eating Wispas. I also support Spurs, which is a very sad affliction.
What made you want to sit down and write your first book?
I read a few lesbian romances, but they were all set in the US and usually involved cowgirls who lived on ranches. I wanted to read a book set in London, with queer characters I could relate to, but I couldn't find one. So I wrote the book I wanted to read. It took me five years to get my first book out. I'm way quicker these days.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
Ideas come from all different sources, but when one lands, I usually let it sit in my head for a while. Plots, characters and locations are the product of my life and experience, mixed with a healthy glug of make-believe. I have a vague idea when I start writing about all three, but they unfold and change as I type. I replot two-thirds of the way through, but it's always worth it.
Which of your characters do you relate to the most, and why?
Every one of my characters has a fleck of me in them, some more than others. I hard relate to both Jess and Kate from London Calling and This London Love. I lived in north London in my 30s, I was in the lesbian bars and clubs, I was those women, partying hard, waking up hazy. I'm glad I was able to capture a moment in time, because it's not my life anymore. But those books will always be special to me because I wanted to show real London and real life, where people fuck up and try again. All my characters are flawed, as am I.
Has your own writing ever made you cry?
Yes, when I wrote Big London Dreams, my historical romance in the London Romance series, book eight. It's set in the late 1950s, when lesbian relationships were mostly hidden. There's heartbreak in the book, and writing the letters that are found later on made me cry. It's also one of my books I'm most proud of.
Does anyone you know in real life read your books?
Loads of people! I have a big family, and all four of my sisters read my books, and two of my brothers as well. Plus, I have loads of nieces who do, too, a ton of mates, and even my parents read Nothing To Lose and All I Want For Christmas. We agree not to talk about the sex scenes.
Imagine your book, or one of your books, was made into a film. Who would play the lead roles?
That's easy: Kristen Stewart and Emma Watson. That's who I always wanted to play Jess and Lucy when London Calling came out. Would they be too old now? I don't think so. Mila Kunis would be cool, too. I heart her. And if we could persuade Kate Winslet to be in something? Life made.
When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax?
Read books! I did the GoodReads Challenge last year, and read 45. I was pretty pleased with myself. I'm also a huge football fan, and go to see Spurs play (I have a season ticket). I also go to see Spurs Women too, and Charlton Women (my local team). I love going to gigs, theatre and restaurants whenever I can. I also love to travel - in the UK and abroad.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given with regards to being an author?
Go deeper, not longer. This is a bit of recent advice, and it's really bedded in. I want to take readers with me, pull them in and hold them in the story with my words. The way to do that is to really dig into the details of a scene, and go deeper on emotion and senses. I've seen a bit of a change in my writing since the penny dropped.
How about in general life?
Don't wait for tomorrow. Also, take more time off. From 2016-2019, I took 10-12 weeks off each year and travelled. It was glorious. Plus, travel inspires story ideas. And it's tax-deductible. ;0)
What is a motto you live by?
It's always today. Never lick a steak knife. Tequila is always a good idea.
How can people connect with you?
You can find out about me and my books on my website: www.clarelydon.co.uk
Finally a light-hearted one. If you were a sandwich, what sandwich would you be?
I'd definitely be in the Taste The Difference range.
What’s that you’re thinking? ‘Katherine, it’s March now. Why are you still doing Sapphic Fiction February?’ Well, to be completely honest with you, I found myself oversubscribed. But that means you get bonus interviews, so what’s the harm? There’s a couple more to come… stick around, and make sure you’re following my social media accounts (@kblakemanwriter on Twitter and @katherineblakemanwriter on Instagram) to get all the latest updates! And if you want to support my own Sapphic Fiction journey while you’re here, my new novel The Summer We’ve Had is available now!