Author Clarissa Thomasson | Between The Covers…
This week on Between the Covers, we feature local author, Clarissa Thomasson.
She has authored nine novels and five children’s books: Defending Hillsborough, Reconstructing Hillsborough, Lorinda’s Legacy, Florida Shadows, Florida Secrets, Florida Sunset, Surviving Sarasota, Over the Bridge, and Venice Dreamers; A Lost Tail, Hattie to the Rescue, Who’s a Friend? Jocko Pays a Visit, Where’s Eddie
Current projects include a historical novel entitled Forgotten Florida, which is about the first American settlers in Southwest Florida when it became a U.S. territory in 1822.
I asked Clarissa why she wanted to become a writer.
“I always loved to write and taught a Middle School Reading/Writing Workshop for many years. The idea with the class was that the teacher would write along with the students. I assigned a historical novella of 60 pages on the life of one of the student’s relatives. I, myself, chose to write on my great, great grandmother, who had saved her family inn from Sherman’s men during the Civil War. I soon retired and turned my assignment into my first book, Defending Hillsborough.”
Self-described as motivated, determined, and never-quitting, Clarissa shares her perception of how she defines success.
“I measure my success by the number of happy readers who come back for my next book each year. I do not look for awards or monetary gains, but I love the personal contact and the chance to interact with so many readers—at book fairs, book talks, and lectures.”
Clarissa shares her defining moment as an author.
“My most exciting moment was having my first book signing at the inn my great, great grandmother had run, sitting at her desk, and seeing a crowd stretching around the block to purchase my book about their town!”
Many writers can trace back to the moment when they realized writing was not just something they could do but rather something they had to do. Clarissa recalls the goal she had in mind and its affirmation.
“My intention has always been to write about a strong woman who defies the odds in some way or another. Women too often get the short end of the stick—in literature and as authors. It’s always fun to have people at a book festival ask in disbelief: ‘YOU wrote all these books’?”
Each writer has a unique style.
“My writing style focuses on the interaction between the characters—accomplished mainly by conversation. I think history can best be learned by seeing it through the eyes of its participants—in their own time. As they are experiencing the actions around them, the reader becomes drawn into the conversation. Much better than just reading the facts from a history book.”
When Clarissa is not focusing on her works, she helps other authors.
“I edit and format works for many authors. I enjoy helping new writers produce their first book and feel happy to hear of their later successes. The way it affects my work, however, is that I don’t have enough time to spend on my work.”
Every writer’s childhood influences their writing.
“I was born and grew up in Miami, Florida, and lived there until I was married. My dad was in the Navy in WWII. When he returned home, I was four. Most of our family time was spent at the Naval Officers’ Club, where my father welcomed new residents he had known during the war, who were moving to Florida. I had countless bouts with asthma, so I spent many nights sitting upright in a chair trying to breathe. My mom would hand me a book from my grandfather’s extensive collection, so reading became my first pastime—followed by writing. My Great Aunt Octavia wrote our family history—from which I got facts for my earliest historical novels.
I find I am more sympathetic in listening to other views—as I have sought to identify the causes of tipping points and opposing ideas in my characters. I also think I have gained a much greater knowledge of the world and historical events as I take my characters through the events that have changed their lives.”
Clarissa offers some advice for people who want to write a book.
“First of all, write what you know or have learned and don’t try to make sense of ideas, cultures, and events that are alien to your background. I have edited many manuscripts in which the author tries to create a historical or fantasy civilization that often falls flat because they can’t sustain the necessary fictional events.”