Interview with YA Author Jean Ann Williams
Jean Ann Williams, author of Just Claire, enjoys digging into her fascinating childhood to create stories for children. Having written over 100 articles for children and adults, Just Claire is Jean Ann's first book and draws from some of her personal experiences to add a touch of authenticity to the story.
About Just Claire
How did you choose the title?
My main character no longer likes anyone calling her by her full name, ClaireLee. She told her dad, “Call me just Claire.”
How would you describe the book to someone in a text message?
One daughter determined to find her place.
Who is your main character and what problem does she face?
ClaireLee must take charge of her siblings after her mother becomes ill after childbirth. As a result, ClaireLee loses her freedom as well as her identity in the family.
What might draw someone to your character?
ClaireLee is a down-to-earth, feisty teen who struggles over circumstances out of her control.
What prompted you to write this book?
My own mother suffered from depression. When I was a younger teen, I longed to read a story similar to my life.
What did you bring to the book from your own life?
What it feels like to wake up one day and find your mother has become emotionally cut off from you and your family. Therefore, my mother was unable to discuss the basic issues about life.
What makes your book stand out from other books like it?
My book is not only clean, but reviewers are calling it inspirational. And it does have a hopeful ending.
What is one thing you learned from writing this book?
I was able to forgive my own mother for the times she acted out in bad behavior. Also, I learned how to write a novel with this book.
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A horse jockey, because I love horses and like to feel the wind in my face.
Do you still want to be that?
No, but for three decades, I rode a Harley Davidson motorcycle with my husband and enjoyed the wind in my face.
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
When I was a teen writing poetry.
Did anything unusual happen on your journey to becoming an author?
Yes, my son died by suicide halfway through finishing Just Claire. I lost my creativity to write anything new for years, but I could work on Just Claire. I guess Claire helped me through the first stages of the grieving process.
What books have influenced you most?
Oh, I’d say the Nancy Drew mystery series, Elizabeth Barrett Browning poems, especially “How Do I Love Thee?” and The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
What book have you read the most times and why?
I read Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder about twelve times. First I read and reread it myself and then I read it several times to my children. After my children grew up, I read it again to myself more than once, because the simplistic life of Laura’s helped me during difficult times.
What are three unusual things about you your readers might not know?
I bow hunt big game
I milk a goat (she produces one gallon daily)
I have a few chickens who like hugs. So, I hug them. J
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
Climbed a rock cliff which became slippery at the halfway mark, and I got stuck. I couldn’t go down because I discovered my fear of heights on this day, and I became dizzy. I prayed, then, and waited. As my eyes wandered upward, I spotted tuffs of grass within reach. I yanked on a bunch of blades. It held. I grabbed hold of the clumps and, like grab holds to a ladder, those clumps got me to the top. I didn’t plan this adventure, and God’s creation assisted me to safety.
Do you have life philosophy?
Yes, never, ever give up on a task you believe God has called you to do. It took eighteen years before I finished Just Claire, and it published at the twenty year mark.
Without a doubt it’s Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
What advice would you give a teen who wants to be a writer?
Read how-to books on the craft of writing. While doing this, read, read, read great writing with great stories and write, write, write your own.
Jean Ann Williams, the oldest in a large family, enjoys digging into her fascinating childhood to create stories for children. Having written over 100 articles for children and adults, Just Claire is Jean Ann's first book and draws from some of her personal experiences to add a touch of authenticity to the story.
Jean Ann lives with her husband and an assortment of goats and chickens in Southern Oregon where she enjoys hiking through the woods and practicing archery.
From the 40 foot line