About Chloe Hammond
Born in Liverpool, I grew up in West Wales. Without a television I was forced to overcome my difficulties with the written word, and books became my escape of choice. I studied Behavioral Sciences at the University of Glamorgan, but pestered my lecturers to allow me some modules of Creative Writing, which.
I always planned to write- life just got in the way. Recently I found myself losing my joie de vivre. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I needed to completely change my life: I needed to be open about my diagnosis. I am usually very self-sufficient, but I refused to give the depression the isolation it craves. I feared judgement, instead I have found gentle compassion and support. I made time to write again. Writing soothes and grounds me; exhilarates and stimulates me.
Darkly Dreaming came to me as nightmares- entire scenes dreamt. I started writing them down, and quickly Rae and Layla’s characters introduced themselves and took over, and the whole book flowed.
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1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Well, I could, but then I’d have to kill you… Oops sorry, still being Rae, my vampire heroine. Focus Chloe, focus. Right, I am 41, an Aquarius, and I’m happily married and live in South Wales, right by the sea. I have a cat and two rescue dogs. For 20 years I worked as a support worker with vulnerable people, and fostered troubled teenagers. Two years ago I developed some horrible anxiety symptoms, and after a year of struggling, and my husband having a heart attack, we completely changed our life style.
With life getting so scary and hard it was very tempting to freeze, and curl up safe, but I’m not made that way, so I turned the terrifying nightmares into my first novel, Darkly Dreaming, and used the guidance the anxiety offers (forces?) to shape a less stressful life. I now work in retail, which is really helping this introvert develop face to face chatting skills. At the moment I am writing Darkly Dancing, Book 2 of The Darkly Vampire Trilogy, and learning the marketing skills to promote Darkly Dreaming.
2. What kind of books do you bring with you when you go on holiday?
On holiday I like pure escapism, nothing too heavy, but I still need them to be well written. I can’t abide bad writing. I love Deborah Harkness, who writes elegant and sophisticated dark fantasy, and Cecelia Aherne who writes magic realism.
3. If you could spend a sunny day anywhere how would your perfect day look like?
There’s a tiny port called Mortagne–Sur-Gironde on the Gironde Estuary in Charente Maritime, West France, which has stolen a slice of my heart. I would love to get up at a reasonable time, about nine o’clock, and after coffee and time for my brain to wake up I’d go for a lovely long stroll through the sunlight dappled coastal lanes, to say good morning to the ponies down there. After I’ve given them their apples and breathed in great lungfuls of their appley breath I would saunter back to the port to the lovely bistro I discovered right next on the waterfront.
I’d seat myself at a table outside and sit smelling the briney air, and enjoying the blessing of a breeze while I waited for my order to be taken. I’d ask for their delicious sea food salad, and lots of ice cold water, and enjoy every fresh mouthful while I listened to the wind-chime swaying of the masts on boats at anchor. After a punchy black coffee, I’d head home for an hour’s book marketing and email answering, and then when my coffee wears off, I’d have a lovely siesta. After an hour or two’s nap I’d cook and eat dinner with my husband, and then spend the evening writing, because evenings are my creative time. I’d have a mess of cats and dogs to keep me company into the night as I walked the borders between the real world and my creations.
4. Could you tell us about your hobbies (when you are not writing or reading)?
I love to cook. I’m not one for following recipes though, and when friends ask for the recipe our conversations go something like this:
Friend: ‘ Mmm. This is nice, can I have the recipe?’
Me: ‘Of course! You chop up the chicken and peppers and onions, and fry them with the smoked paprika, garlic and a splash of red wine, then you tip a tin of chopped tomatoes over, season with salt and pepper, and cook.
Friend: ‘How much paprika?’
Me: ‘Ahhhh, enough.’
Friend: ‘How long do I cook it for?’
Me ‘Until it’s cooked.’
So, they’ve given up asking me now. I also love a good box set binge- Walking Dead, Penny Dreadful, Preacher, and game Of Thrones, to name just a few. I love travelling, and enjoy luxury holidays in the Caribbean for a total pamper and relax; as well as independently exploring Europe, finding the hidden nooks and crannies which become locations in my novels. I’m also ludicrously fascinated by houses and doing them up. In an ideal world I would be able to drive, and I would have my own business, either as an estate agent, or an interior designer, using recycled furniture to create dream interiors at affordable prices.
5. Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?
The initially scenes from Darkly Dreaming came from my own nightmares, then when I started writing the surrounding story and I discovered Rae and Layla in my imagination, all ready to get on with their adventures. I got ideas for my vampire’s gifts and features from nature documentaries, for instance, when Rae and Layla become angry they experience The Rage, which causes their bodies to lengthen and distort- with their bones extending through the ends of their fingers, and their ribs popping through their skin, both of which are defence mechanisms from toads and frogs.
6. If you could be any leading character from a bestselling book, who would you be and why?
I would be Esme Weatherwax from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Series. She’s so absolutely herself, with no apologies and no concerns over whether people like her or not. She’s incredibly brave, although only her best friend Gytha realises just how brave, and the prices she quietly pays later for saving someone. What I like best is that even though she is curmudgeonly and forthright, she has her secret escapes when she slips into the mind of a passing bird and soars and glides for hours with all the freedom of an eagle.
7. What's your favorite reading spot?
Bed. I have a long fluffy body pillow I prop my leg on, and my cat curls into the curve at the back of my knee, then I escape for delicious hours into someone else’s mind.
8. What is your favorite holiday destination and what do you like so much about it?
There’s a resort in Cofresi Beach just outside Puerto Plata in Dominican which is the most delicious place on the planet for me. I don’t care if it rains, I’ve happily sat out a hurricane there, I just love it. It’s very beautiful, with masses of tropical flowers and humming birds and incredible butterflies, as well as turquoise and white breezy beaches, but what really affects me most is the energy there. I feel like someone has plugged in my soul as soon as I step off the plane. I feel like the outer husk I have to wear to survive the U.K falls away, and I can stand up straight, and achieve anything I want. I can write and write, with a multitude of ideas bursting into my mind, all the exhaustion fog burning off in the suns blessing. I dream about being there at least once a week. The only problem with going is having to come home. Over the last two days I become more and more I become bereft. By the time I get home I feel like someone has taken away one of my limbs, or the outer layer of my skin, so I feel cold and vulnerable, and I have to cocoon in bed until my outer shell has regrown, with me cramped and unhappy inside.
9. Do you have any advice for authors who would like to write a sunny story?
Involve all the senses, sunlight changes everything- how things smell, how they taste, the colour of daylight. Think of a strawberry that has just come out of a British fridge, cold and hard in the thin grey light, and tasting of little more than bitter pith. Then think of a bowl of sun warmed berries on a French terrace, with a heat rich perfume you can smell from steps away. They’re glossy in the golden glow, warm and soft to the touch, and bursting with honeyed juices that drip down your chin no matter how much you suck at them, making you laugh and stand on tippy toes, sticking your chin out, to try to avoid the stick syrup trickling down your throat.
10. What can we expect from you in the future?
At the moment I’m working on Darkly Dancing, Book 2 of The Darkly Vampire Trilogy, and a short story about sleeping a weekend away and waking up to find there’s been a zombie apocalypse which I will submit to a Cake and Quill charity anthology we are planning on dystopian futures. We release them regularly, and all proceeds go to carefully selected tiny frontline charities, where the money is spent on services, and not administration.
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