Claire Contreras: Diverse Characters and Riveting Stories = #1 Success!

Wow!  Have you ever casually spoken to someone only to find there is so much more to them than you ever realized? That is exactly my experience with Claire Contreras. I originally sat down to chat with her thinking she was a beautiful lady who writes wonderful stories. It only took a minute, however, to realize the true depth and beauty we have all been missing! Claire’s story of growing up in a working-class family from the Dominican Republic, who suddenly found herself in an ambassador’s mansion is riveting, as is her uncanny rise to fame as an author. It is also one of heartbreak and struggle as she fought her way through not one, but two bouts with stage four cancer. What started as a light, easy interview quickly turned into an inspiring and uplifting experience. And, throughout everything, this amazing lady remains candid, upbeat, optimistic and willing to share her gifts with any and all! I walked away a better person and hope you feel the same.

InD: We have so many things to talk about! But first, I want to know about you, tell me about Claire, the child.
Well, I was born in the Dominican Republic, but we moved to the U.S. when I was two, and I grew up in Miami, Fl.
InD: That actually makes sense because I noticed when I was bingeing on your books, a lot of your characters are Dominican, so I figured there had to be some tie there.
: It’s funny because I didn’t have a lot of Dominican characters when I started writing. The first time was when I wrote "The Player", the main character was Dominican. When I released it, I got so many emails from women who thanked me for writing a Dominican heroine, and that was when I realized that it was true. She was definitely the most seamless character I’ve ever written.
InD: You were just writing a character from something you knew; that would be a very natural thing.
Exactly. Normally, I write characters according to the story I want to tell. If a character’s in the Irish Mob, then he is Irish. I hadn’t given it much thought before the reception of “The Player”. Recently, I have been writing more Dominican and having fun with it because I know it’s what I know the most, and that makes it a lot easier.
InD: I thought it was awesome. You grew up in Miami; do you still live there?
I lived in Miami most of my life, but about three years ago, I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, because I felt I really needed to get out of there. I couldn’t do it anymore.
InD: So, what was it like growing up in Miami? Were you living in the city itself?
: Miami is very spread out. I did not live near the beach, it was about 30 minutes away. Now, it takes about two hours to get there because the traffic is so bad. I grew up in a very modest household. My parents were first generation immigrants who were very hard-working people. My mother’s parents were farmers, but my father was in politics. He was also a writer. When we moved to Miami, he continued on the side, so during the day he’d work, first in a factory and then later with help from family, as the owner of a furniture store. Politics was where his heart was though, and he was later named Ambassador of the Dominican Republic in Miami. That was a big turning point for us because we went from middle-class to wealthy in the span of a few years.
InD: What was that like for you?
: Shocking. There were small changes, in the beginning, but then we went from living in a small house to moving into one where my closet was the size of my former bedroom, and there was no denying things had changed.
InD: Where did your parents work when they first came over?
My mom worked in a factory, sewing clothes for a French company that outsourced their sewing to the United States, and my dad worked in factories and then got into the textile industry with my uncle.
InD: How did your dad get into politics?
: In the Dominican Republic, he developed a lot of connections because he was really involved with one of the political parties. One of his best friends, who he met in that party, later became President of the Dominican Republic, and through him, my dad ended up getting the job as Ambassador.
InD: So, how did going from a normal middle-class neighborhood to a mansion go over with all of your friends?
I didn’t really have many friends growing up. The only friend I had outside of my cousins was my neighbor, and the first time she visited me at my new house, she was in shock. I switched to a private school shortly after we moved, which is where I met the friends I still keep in touch with today.
InD: How was private school and your teenage years?
: It was nice. High school can be a very cliquey place, but I always maintained a good relationship with everyone.

Read the entire fun and informative interview in the September 2021 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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