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Lane Clarke: On Healing Through Writing

Lawyer and writer Lane Clarke discusses how she gave her past self a happier ending with her debut novel, Love Times Infinity.

Lane Clarke lives in Northern Virginia and practices law in Washington D.C. Love Times Infinity is her debut novel. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Lane Clarke: On Healing Through Writing

Lane Clarke

In this post, Lane discusses how she gave her past self a happier ending with her debut novel, Love Times Infinity, her advice on building your publishing team for other writers, and more!

Name: Lane Clarke
Literary agent: Pete Knapp, Park & Fine
Book title: Love Times Infinity
Publisher: Poppy/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release date: July 26, 2022
Genre/category: Young Adult Contemporary
Elevator pitch for the book: Michie Cooper has big dreams and even bigger insecurities about college and her future. But when her estranged mother reappears in her life, she must confront generational trauma and the sexual assault that produced her in order to shed the belief she is unloved and unlovable.

Lane Clarke: On Healing Through Writing

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What prompted you to write this book?

Michie’s story is my story. I was the result of a sexual assault and I went through a similar journey of feeling unworthy of life and love because of what created me. Giving Michie these people in her life who love her unconditionally despite what she feels about herself helped me see the same in the people in my own life. And I realized I couldn’t possibly be alone.

Especially when you look at how many birthing people grow up in environments where they lack choice in having children resulting from their sexual assault, and the children who are born under those circumstances, I wanted to give a voice to those parents and the children. I felt like the perspective was entirely absent from the overall conversation. It’s really hard to find self-worth when maybe you agree that people’s lives would have been better, they would have had perhaps an easier path to healing, but for you.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?

It was a fairly quick journey for publishing. I first wrote Love Times Infinity fast and furiously in July 2019. I had no real intentions of publishing it, but when a few friends read it, they encouraged me to try. I signed with my agent in early November 2019. And a book deal was in my hands July 2020. That’s when the real waiting began!

I’m so eternally grateful to my agent and editor that Love Times Infinity has changed very little in the editing process. I have certainly learned how to structure a book, the pacing has improved, and a lot of character development has happened. But overall, Michie’s story has always stayed the same. The heart has never deviated from that original draft, and no one has ever asked it to. I feel really blessed that this book is exactly the way I envisioned it.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

I was really surprised about how many people instantly got it. I thought I would have to do so much explaining and I was prepared to be a little defensive. But so far, each person that has read it and expressed thoughts about it has been so compassionate for Michie and her friends, and have shown a real willingness to engage with her story and the story of so many kids like her.

I was also surprised by how much input I had along the way. Getting to dig into a cover that I felt set the tone for the book, getting a say on content warnings and prioritizing BIPOC early readers. I read so much online when I was preparing for debut year that the book stops being yours, but that hasn’t happened.

Lane Clarke: On Healing Through Writing

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

Oh gosh so many. I was surprised by how quickly the book itself poured out of me. Now that I’ve moved on to writing other things, I’m learning how much the story can battle you. But Love Times Infinity was always fully formed in my brain.

I was surprised by how much grace I wanted Michie to show toward her mother, and realized how I was kind of giving her the ending I hoped for myself. To be honest, I was a much angrier teen than Michie was, and writing her story was like giving myself another chance and a happier ending. I was caught off guard by how writing LTI healed so much within me.

As far as the editing process goes, I was surprised to learn that I had absolutely no idea how to use a comma properly! My English Lit major heart was quaking! Thank goodness for copyeditors, the real MVPs.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I hope that readers gain a new perspective. Especially now birthing people’s bodies are more and more policed, it’s so important that we go into these conversations with compassion and understanding. There is so much trauma that is produced when birthing people lack choices. The children who are the result feel it every day of their lives. And we, at least I, have complicated feelings that have transformed so much over the years. Michie’s ideas transform as well, and I hope readers go on that journey with her.

But most importantly, I hope that readers take away the message to be kind to themselves, to let people into their lives who have earned the right to be there, to only accept good love and not the bare minimum. There are people who want to support and fight for you if you let them. And you are deserving of that love, no matter what mistakes you have made or things that have happened beyond your control.

If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?

Be absolutely inflexible when it comes to the type of people you want to work with. Your agent, your editor, your publishing team, your beta readers, will all have a profound impact on your work. Work with people who will trust you, will uplift you, and will never try to make your work something it isn’t. Work with people who will call you to the table when you are writing beyond your experience and/or writing harmful content. Set your standards early and do not stray from them.

Publishing can be such a long journey that you can convince yourself to lower your standards to move farther forward. Please, please, please don’t. Your stories will be better, and they will be YOURS, if you have a team that wants you to soar.

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