Amidst all the chaos, here's something more to make our adrenaline run and our skin crawl—and maybe, just maybe, make us root for the bloodthirsty survivor in all of us.
Writer, filmmaker, and veteran Don Roff is no stranger to the Horror/ Thriller genres; his previous literary works include Snowblind, Ghost Quest: A Handbook for Paranormal Investigators, and the chilling collection of child-friendly tales, Scary Stories. Now, he's breaking into the Paliaverse with a new endeavor: CLARE AT 16, a coming-of-age tale of a girl-next-door, who's anything but.
Clare At 16 is the first in a proposed series following Clare Bleecker, a vegan school girl with a penchant for slashing creepy men with eyes for girls like her. She's an astute judge of character—her childhood trauma and resulting Dissociative Identity Disorder made sure of that. The lurking evil in the Eastern Washington town of Pickman Flats is about to learn the hard way that Clare can most definitely hold her own.
Roff's cutthroat storytelling has already garnered attention; with a Clare At 16 film project and web comic underway, we are also excited to bring Clare to life on page. She'll make for a killer Spring/ Summer 2021 release. Until then, we'll keep you updated, and as Roff reminds us—Slay responsibly.
THROUGH THE WRINGER WITH THE BLOG MAVEN: DON ROFF
Your novel, CLARE AT 16, has been picked up by The Parliament House Press. Congratulations! What was your literary journey like while writing it?
Writing CLARE AT 16, which I began on August 5, 2013, and finished six weeks later (60K words), is probably the single best novel-writing experience that I’ve had so far. Her voice was so clear to me. It’s like she was in the room dictating what I wrote. Essentially, I was typing down her thoughts.
Is there a scene in CLARE AT 16 that made you cry while writing it? How about the scene that made you laugh the hardest? I feel like there might’ve been lots of devious laughter in your/ Clare’s plotting.
No, I’ve never laughed or cried while writing anything. I might smile or you know, laugh on the inside. But I’m generally pretty calm while I’m writing. No devious laughter but many wry smiles.
Would you consider your protagonist, Clare, a good person? Be honest.
Clare Bleecker has lived through a serious of incidents that would challenge anyone. She was brutally attacked by a serial killer and she grew up in a house with an abusive, alcoholic parent. She’s struggled to understand herself and these homicidal impulses that completely take her over. She doesn’t always do good things, but Clare isn’t a bad person. Bad things tend to happen to her, though.
How does a big ego help writers? How can it hinder writers, if at all?
You have to have enough ego to sit down and hammer out pages day after day even if you’re doing it on spec and don’t have a publisher or plan. However, during the editing process, you have to question every choice you made. Is it the best choice? If you have a big ego, I don’t know if you can be as critical of yourself.
What is the darkest thing you’ve ever written—presuming there might be pieces darker than this novel?
This book has some of the darkest bits of humanity that I’ve written. Some of it was taken out as it went a little too far. It’s also had trouble landing a publisher previously because of some of the content.
What other authors are you friends with? How do they help you become a better writer?
I belong to the Horror Writers Association and I’m friends with many of them. Other authors have helped and inspired me simply by constantly getting their work out there.
So the readers know, is CLARE AT 16 a planned series?
Yes, Clare Bleecker will appear in six books. I’ve already written the second one and plan to start writing the third one this year.
If you could tell your writing-self ten years ago anything, what would it be?
Don’t be so distracted. Get your writing done. Keep creating daily.
How did publishing your first book change your artistic process to what it is today?
My first book, SCARY STORIES, was published by Scholastic Book Clubs in the fall of 2006. That changed everything for me. I realized that I was “good enough” to get published and my confidence grew from there.
When did you first learn that language wielded power? What did that moment look like?
I was in high school English class and we’d read There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury that appeared in THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES. His command of language and images completely floored me. After that, I knew I wanted to be a writer and do that, too.
We base many characters on celebrities; are there any characters in this novel inspired by real people? Do you have a dream cast? Who are they?
When I write my characters, many of them are composites based of people I have known. I don’t usually cast popular actors in roles as I finds it limits my writing. I’m seeing the people I’m writing about as characters rather than actual people.
What did you edit out of this novel that you might regret nixing?
I did have to pull some punches with regards to some dark content—I think it’s for the best, though.
Who’s Clare’s favorite serial killer?
She does share a birthday with Jeffrey Dahmer, May 21st, does that count?
Do you read your own book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones, if any?
I try not to, of course, but it’s unavoidable, it seems in the digital age. I try to remember what Ray Bradbury said. “You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.”
Do you hide any pop culture “Easter eggs” in CLARE AT 16 that only a few people will find?
Well, Clare’s favorite “Christmas movie” is THE SHINING and she lives on 237 Straw Street, so there’s at least one.
What was the hardest scene to write into this novel?
Actually, the love scenes between Clare and Truman. It’s hard when you have a person who is apathetic. Those scenes are the most difficult, but I’m trying to get better with the B Story romance stuff.
Google yourself. What’s the first thing that pops up?
My Wikipedia page.
What’s one important thing would you give up to improve your writing skill?
Being distracted so much.
What is your favorite childhood book? Did any of your childhood reads inspire your writing style/voice in CLARE AT 16?
The books that probably most influenced it were True Grit by Charles Portis, Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, and Catcher In the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I love that each of them start out with a powerhouse narrator whom you can’t help fall in love with and follow them on their journeys.
Clare has a lot of dark secrets we'll get to uncover, I'm sure... What is one of yours?
That I’m not as calm, cool, or intelligent as I want people to believe I am.
About the Author:
Don Roff grew up in the Pacific Northwest in the Walla Walla Valley. In his teens, he wrote scripts and made movies with his friends. He served with the U.S. Army at the 3rd Ranger Battalion in Fort Benning, Georgia. He graduated from The Evergreen State College of Olympia, Washington, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in film and creative writing. He has lived in New York City and Seattle. He has over 18 published books, primarily through Scholastic and Chronicle Books / Simon & Schuster UK. He has several films in production based on his written works, as well as original screenplays. Roff now resides in Walla Walla, Washington with his girlfriend, Molly, as well as their dogs and cats.