Alumni Stories: Claire Heywood

Posted on: 23/03/2024

Claire Heywood - Author



Claire Heywood is a scholar of the ancient world, having gained a 1st Class BA in Classical Civilisation and an MA with Distinction in Ancient Visual and Material Culture, along with two academic prizes, from the University of Warwick.

Originally from Coventry and a former student of The Westwood Academy, she now lives and writes in Bristol


Your second book was published last year, can you tell us about it?

My second novel, The Shadow of Perseus, is a historical fiction retelling of the myth of Perseus, told from the perspectives of three key female characters: his mother, Danae; his trophy, Medusa; and his wife, Andromeda. Like my first novel, Daughters of Sparta, it is set in the Greek Bronze Age and looks at the reality of life for women in the ancient world while reimagining a famous story through new eyes.


How did the Westwood Academy prepare you for your career?

I am able to write the books that I write because I studied Classics at university. While I wasn't able to study Classics at Westwood (classical subjects like Latin and Ancient Greek are rarely taught in state schools), my three A-levels really helped me to gain the relevant skills I would need to flourish in my degree. I chose to study French, English Literature, and Philosophy/Religious Studies at A-level, and found all three of these subjects valuable for my later studies and career.

What is your fondest Westwood memory?

I have some great memories from trips away, especially those to France and one to Northern Ireland. These were my first opportunities to go abroad and I'll never forget seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time, or stepping on the Giant's Causeway. I also remember performing in a year 7 talent show with a poem I wrote about an out-of-control washing machine, with my friend playing the role of the washing machine. We didn't win.

How has your time at Westwood inspired your career?

I had a fantastic English teacher who encouraged my love of creative writing and even started a club called 'Legends on the Landing' where we looked at different myths and legends and wrote poems/stories inspired by them. There were also visits from authors that really inspired me and showed me that being an author could be an achievable dream. Plus theatre trips and other exposure to 'the arts' that broadened my mind creatively.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to publish a book?

The hardest part about writing a book is actually getting it finished - having the tenacity to keep going and to turn your ideas into something solid and complete. It requires discipline and self-drive, so it's important to write a story that you care about and that you want other people to care about. Once you have a finished manuscript you need to do your research about the world of publishing so that you know what you want to achieve and how to get there. For example, if you're aiming for a traditional publishing deal with a major publisher then you will need a literary agent to represent your work. There is a lot of advice and information available online, so make the most of these resources and decide what route is best for you.

Claire’s first novel, Daughters of Sparta, was published in 2022 in is availble from waterstones

Claire's second book, The Shadows of Perseus, is also availble from waterstones

More information about Claire’s work can be found on her website

You can find her on Instagram @Claireheywoodauthor
or on Twitter @ClaireEHeywood