Welcome all dreamers, fantasists, bibliophiles, and romantics. Join me Mondays and Fridays for speculation about other worlds, exploration of the human heart and soul in fiction and fact, sojourns in history and science, advice and tidbits in the realms of story, and thoughts on everything in between...

Friday, October 4, 2013

Interview: Mae Clair

Today, I’m pleased to introduce Mae Clair, author of Weathering Rock and Twelfth Sun. Her newest book, Twelfth Sun, came out last month and is something like Clue and Indiana Jones meets contemporary romance. It’s fun, funny, and heartwarming.

One of the things I enjoy about Mae is her ability to combine things in entertaining ways as my description of her latest book suggests. Every Monday, for example, she posts on her blog about mythical creatures from unicorns to the Mothman, yet Mae need not always delve into the fantastic. Her first novel, Weathering Rock, combines werewolves and the Civil War, but you won’t find a hint of fantasy in Twelfth Sun, just what Mae excels at: fun, lovely description, unique characters, and a darn good story.

So with no further ado, let’s welcome Mae Clair.

Laura Lee Nutt: Mae, thank you for joining us today. As most people on this blog know, I have a fondness for characters. So, let me begin by asking what your inspirations were for Elijah Cross, the archaeologist and hero in Twelfth Sun, and Reagan Cassidy, your interior decorating heroine.

Mae Clair: Thanks for hosting me today, Laura, and for that lovely intro. It’s a delight to be here! As for my characters, I’m a firm believer in opposites attracting (my husband and I are perfect examples). As a result I made my hero and heroine in Twelfth Sun polar opposites. Not only is Reagan ten years older than Elijah, but she’s a practical business woman, while he’s a quirky fly-by-the-seat of your pants free spirit, albeit a genius bohemian.

LLN: Expanding outward a bit, what was your initial inspiration for the whole book, and how much did the idea change over time?

MC: Because I’m a panster, I can’t say the book really changed that much. My stories mostly develop as I write them. From my vague initial conception I believe it held mostly true to the plot, although some of the characters and their relationships changed as I wrote -- especially as related to Elijah and his family background.

LLN: I hear you there. I’m a pantser too. Now, I have a fondness for archaeology too, and not just because I love Harrison Ford. My brother, sister-in-law, and husband each studied the subject in graduate school. One of the things I liked about Twelfth Sun was that it was believable compared to some books written by a nonprofessional archaeologist. You obviously did some research into marine archaeology. What interesting things did you find that didn’t make it into the book? And was there any particular person or source you found most helpful?

MC: You’ve really got a lot of family history with archaeology!

Because I enjoy reading about old sailing ships, I have several books on my shelf that I leafed through when jotting notes for historical accuracy. Shipwrecks of the Americas was probably the most helpful, although I also haunted numerous blogs and online sites. I love the availability of online resources for research.

LLN: No kidding. Writing would not be what it is today without online resources. You cover a pretty detailed description of the ship, the Twelfth Sun, in this book. Is it a real ship? Based on a real ship? What historical facts helped shape the story and ship in your novel?

MC: My ship, the Twelfth Sun is completely fictional. I drew on my knowledge of vessels of the era and additional research I did. I’ve always loved old sailing ships, so it was fun weaving those elements together to create a fictional schooner to fit the picture.

LLN: You have a lot of references in Twelfth Sun to mariner and sea lore. Has that been an interest of yours for a long time, or is it a new fascination from when you began writing the novel?

MC: I love folklore of any kind and have since I was a teenager. Even then I read stories about the sea and myths related to the ocean and sea-faring vessels. That attachment grew stronger as I got older. Although I sought out new sea lore references while writing Twelfth Sun, my passion for nautical superstition and myths in general is rooted decades in the past.

LLN: To contrast with all the marine specialists in the story, your heroine, Reagan Cassidy, knows very little about ships, the sea, or artifacts. Rather, she’s an interior designer and only gets involved in the whole plot out of love for her antiques collecting uncle who can’t be present due to his health. What made you decide to make Reagan so different?

MC: That leads me back to opposites attracting. Also, having a heroine who was unfamiliar with nautical folklore and sailing vessels allowed me to share information with my reader through her eyes.

LLN: Yes, that was definitely an effective technique in Twelfth Sun, especially for people like me who are pretty ignorant of ships and nautical lore. As I said before, the story has a big Clue element to it. Was that intentional? Is Clue a favorite game of yours? Did you like the movie?

MC: I love the board game and have since I was a kid. I barely remember the movie, although from what I recall, I wasn’t impressed with it. Wasn’t it a parody? What I really wanted to capture was the mystery element of a lavish mansion and a set of characters where nobody is whom they appear to be. In “Clue terminology” – everyone is suspect!

LLN: Yeah, some people love the movie and some not so much. Twelfth Sun is also a story of redemption and healing, which gives it a greater depth than my description above implies. It has some really sweet and heartening moments, and that emotional depth makes the story that much stronger. What gave you the idea to include these elements of family, redemption, forgiveness, and healing?

MC: That’s pretty much my author signature. In just about everything I write, family, redemption and healing are key elements. The idealist in me loves creating conflict then paving the way for forgiveness. Family ties are the strongest of all bonds. I come from an extremely close family and love creating similar relationships in my stories (even if my characters have to move the sun and moon to realize what’s been in front of them the entire time!).

LLN: What was your favorite scene to write and why? Without giving too much away.

MC: I love when Reagan realizes who Elijah is. Their initial encounter is mortifying for her, although she never gets his name. Later, she’s waiting at a café, expecting to meet Dr. Elijah Cross, a man she perceives as a stodgy old professor. He’s late and she’s irritated. Then in walks the hot young guy she crossed paths with the night before, and he shatters her all preconceptions when he announces he’s Elijah Cross.

LLN: Those two were such fun to read and so funny. Moving away from Twelfth Sun, what’s next for you? Can we expect any more stories involving the sea, archaeology, or the antiques market?

MC: The romantic mystery element of my writing will continue, but not in the same manner. My next full length project is ECLIPSE LAKE, about a fifteen-year-old missing person’s case. That’s currently with my editor. I intend to indie pub it in the spring of 2014.

I’ve also just completed a romantic adventure novella called SOLSTICE ISLAND that will be included in an anthology of romance stories with three other authors. If all goes according to plan, that should be available by the end of the year.

LLN: As an author, what advice might you give to new authors just starting out? What do you know now that you wish you’d known before?

MC: Don’t wait so long to take the plunge. If I had it to do over again, I would have made a serious effort of submitting my work before I did. By the same token, make sure what you submit is polished to perfection. You only get one chance at a first impression.

LLN: One of the most important things for a writer to do is read. So, Mae, what would be your top 5 to 10 authors that you highly recommend? Who has most influenced you? Who is great to learn from?

MC: I read constantly, and the bulk of my reading spans genres. As strange as it sounds, I have very few authors on my automatic buy list (excluding friends who are writers).

I tend to like books over authors. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (a writing team) are automatic buys for me, along with anything they write individually. They’re noted for thriller/suspense/detective fiction and the Special Agent Pendergast series of novels.

P.J. Parrish and Kate Ellis (both detective fiction) are my only other automatic buys.

Other authors I’ve enjoyed through the years include Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes), Dan Simmons (The Terror, Summer of Night), C.S. Friedman (The Coldfire Trilogy), Nora Roberts (Blood Brothers, Inner Harbor), Stephen King (Salem’s Lot, The Shining, Bag of Bones) Dorothy Dunnett (The Lymond Chronicles) and J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings).

I also loved J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and, more recently, the Mortal Instruments and the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare. I took something away from each and every one of the authors listed above.

LLN: Wow, that is a range. You must be very well read. Now for some quick fun.

If you had to live under the sea or in the air, which would you choose?
That’s a tough choice. I love the ocean, and think an underwater seascape would be gorgeous for its colorful canvas of coral, plankton and fish. But ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be able to soar above everything like a bird. As long as I had the ability to fly, I’d choose the air, hands down.

What is your favorite constellation?

Orion. He dominates the sky and is a gorgeous constellation. (Me too!)

Excluding writer, what is your dream job?

A historian or something involving earth sciences. I’d love to be involved in field research.

If you could own any artifact from history, what would it be?

I actually own one. It’s a Civil War musket carried by J.B. Stutzman of the Pennsylvania Volunteers. Mr. Stutzman carved his name and regiment into the stock and I was able to find him in a list of Civil War soldiers on Ancestry.com, although he’s not a relative. My father collected antiques, so I grew up with many of them. The musket came to me as an adult, and has a place of honor on a wall in my house. (How cool!)

Do you prefer gum or mints?

I like gum for the burst of freshness it brings but I can’t chew it long or it gives me a headache, LOL.

What’s your favorite meal of the day?

If I’m eating in, breakfast. If I’m eating out, dinner!

If you could visit any other country, what would it be?

There are so many places I’d love to visit…Australia, England, Scotland, Ireland, Africa. If someone gave me a choice of all of those, I’d probably pick Scotland.

What’s your favorite type of hat?

I love hats and have a huge collection! I have two favorites…a black fedora I wear in the winter (you can see it in my author photo) and a straw fedora with a leopard-print band that tapers into tails down the back. That’s my preferred summer hat J

LLN: Thanks so much for joining us, Mae, and sharing so much of what went into creating Twelfth Sun.You can learn more about Mae at her website and blog, and be sure to check out her Mythical Mondays. You can also find Mae on Twitter...


TAG: The hunky young PhD knows all about seduction, but what does he know about love?

Reagan Cassidy is settled in her life. She has a thriving interior design firm, an upscale condo, two cats, and a goldfish. As a favor to her uncle, she agrees to team up with his marine archeologist friend to validate and retrieve a nineteenth-century journal, reputedly that of a passenger aboard the doomed schooner Twelfth Sun. Finding a hunky twenty-five-year-old coming out of the shower in her hotel room wasn’t part of the deal, but it’s hard to complain…

Dr. Elijah Cross is cocky and he knows it. He enjoys trading barbs with the lovely Reagan. Barbs, and some innuendo. He can tell she’d rather get back home to her business than stick around for the extended treasure hunt they’ve been talked into, but he’s fine with the situation. At least, until the “clues” start getting personal.

Reagan finds Dr. Gorgeous is as skilled in matters of the heart as he is behind the lectern. Throw in a series of clues which mean more to Elijah than he’ll explain, several odd-ball competitors out to win the journal, a saboteur, and a lavish seaside mansion, and Reagan has enough trouble keeping her head straight, let alone her heart.

WARNING: Younger man, older woman, nautical riddles and romance.

You can find Twelfth Sun at

I’m thrilled to connect with readers and other authors at:
Twitter (@MaeClair1)
Facebook Author Page

Thanks for having me, Laura!

Bio: Mae Clair

Mae Clair opened a Pandora’s Box of characters when she was a child and never looked back.  Her father, an artist who tinkered with writing, encouraged her to create make-believe worlds by spinning tales of far-off places on summer nights beneath the stars. She snagged the tail of a comet, hitched a ride, and discovered her writer’s Muse on the journey.
Mae loves creating character-driven fiction in settings that vary from contemporary to mythical. Wherever her pen takes her, she flavors her stories with conflict, romance and elements of mystery. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about writing, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail and cats.
Discover more about Mae on her website and blog at www.MaeClair.com


  1. Thanks for hosting me today, Laura. I really enjoyed your interview questions. Happy Friday!

  2. Great interview! I love the part about the characters having to move the sun and moon to see what's been there all the time. :) And Laura, I'm fascinated with so many of your relatives being archeologist-minded! It's always a fave topic of mine, ever since I was a kid.


  3. Thanks for checking out the interview, Donna. Laura had great questions for me. And I love her family background. I'm jealous of those archeolist-minded relatives :)

  4. Nice interview, Laura! Very in-depth! I loved Twelfth Sun and can't wait to see what Mae Clair does next!

  5. Aww, thanks, Jessi, Laura gave me such fun interview questions to answer and others that really made me think.

    I'm so glad you enjoyed Twelfth Sun!