Quick & Quirky Questions with Clare O’Brien

Originally a Londoner, Clare graduated in English and American Studies from the University of East Anglia in 1979 and gained her PGCE in London two years later.  She worked for two decades in teaching, journalism and arts administration before moving with her husband and two young sons to the Scottish Highlands.  

As part of a crofting family living on the rugged north-west coast, she has since combined her interest in horticulture with freelance work in writing/editing, PR and social media management for clients around the world as well as helping to run the family tourism business. She has taught local creative writing courses and workshops and for many years she was part of a team promoting professional live music and theatre events in village halls via Creative Scotland-funded organisation West Coast Arts.

Clare’s poetry, fiction and non-fiction has appeared in print and online in various magazines, newspapers, literary journals, anthologies, podcasts and competition shortlists. (It’s also won a few!)  She has just completed a themed poetry collection called Huginn & Muninn, named after Odin’s ravens, and having put it off for years, at the age of 63, she is finally writing a novel – Light Switch


Tell us 4 important facts about yourself:

  1. I love big dogs and have an Irish Wolfhound called Hamish.
  2. I met my husband when we were both playing in an indie rock band in London in the 1980s.
  3. We’ve lived on our croft in the north-west Highlands for nearly 22 years and brought up our two sons here.
  4. My favourite contemporary author is Hilary Mantel. I sometimes wonder if she is, in fact, a goddess.

What is your favourite age that you’ve been so far in life, and why?

I think my thirties, when my boys were little and I still had enough energy to keep up with them.

Who is your favourite fictional character or famous person over 60?

In real life, David Attenborough. In fiction, Gandalf. Both of them have the wisdom which comes with great age but can still have a laugh with us ordinary folk.

You are alone in your house (no pets). You have three minutes to get out before the house collapses and burns to the ground. What one possession would you grab and take with you?

My old teddy bear Timothy. He’s been with me longer than anyone else.

What’s your favourite creative pastime?

Writing poetry. When I can’t do that, I bake.

Tell us something about yourself that’s surprising or unexpected.

At a private function in the 1990s, I narrowly avoided knocking the Queen over due to sprinting around a corner without looking where I was going. She was a little surprised but took it in her stride.

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