Writer, former cop and Chipping Norton Literary Festival founder Clare Mackintosh finds a little time to talk to Jaine Blackman

Clare Mackintosh’s blog is called More Than Just A Mother for good reason.

As well as being mum to seven-year-old Josh and twins Evie and Georgie, six, she’s an author, freelance writer and, if that wasn’t enough, founder and director of the Chipping Norton Literary Festival.

But she clearly thrives on the activity.

“I started ChipLitFest [as it’s also known] in part because I knew I would miss the challenge of running a big project and without it I would definitely miss the buzz of working as part of a team,” says Clare, 37, who spent 12 years in the police force, rising to the rank of Inspector and training to be a Public Order Commander.

“I loved being a police officer and it taught me a great deal, but I was working such long hours I hardly saw my children.”

Clare gave birth to two sets of twins within 15 months; first Alex and Josh who were conceived through IVF.

“The babies were born three months early and shortly afterwards Alex contracted meningitis. He died when he and his brother were five weeks old,” says Clare. “Four months after Josh came home from hospital, I fell naturally pregnant – with twin girls.”

Losing Alex made a big impact.

“It changed the way I saw the world,” says Clare. “Life is too short not to enjoy it, and I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my remaining three children.”

So she took a career break from the police in 2011 and has never gone – or looked – back.

“When I left the police I started working as a freelance writer – it was the only thing I knew how to do, and I hoped it would fit in well around school hours.”

Her career has taken off and she writes everything from newsletters to web copy to magazine articles, with pieces published in the Guardian and in magazines.

“I love the variety it gives me. I feel very fortunate to be able to work from home, as it enables me to juggle all areas of my life relatively easily. Children tend to go down like dominoes when there’s a bug going around school, so I often spend entire weeks with a sleeping child on the floor of my office.

“During the holidays they traipse around with me to meetings and are brilliant helpers: they stuff envelopes and help deliver programmes, and all three did a brilliant job as mini-ambassadors when we launched the children’s programme at Cotswold Wildlife Park last month.”

She says husband Rob, a police officer, is long-suffering.

“He accepts that the constant phone calls, committee meetings and deadlines are part and parcel of what I now do,” says Clare, who started the annual festival in 2012.

“Neither of us have ever had nine to five jobs.”

In addition to her article writing, Clare has also become an author.

Her first novel, I Let You Go, a psychological suspense, comes out in November. It’s about the repercussions of a hit-and-run which kills a five-year-old child and follows the life of a woman coming to terms with the way her life has changed.

“Getting a book deal last June was one of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had,” she says.

“Before I started writing I had no idea just how much work went into getting a book ready for publication, and how hard it is to find a literary agent and a publisher.”

As that workload has increased, Clare has had to become a bit more disciplined.

“At the end of each day I write down what I plan to do the following day, which helps me stay on track, although it does occasionally fly out of the window,” she says.

“Right now I should be tackling the edits on book one, and doing some research for book two, but instead I’m updating the festival budget, firing off emails to sponsors, and writing a blog post.

“Oh, and Twitter, obviously – I spend far too much time on Twitter.”

But next year she will be able to double up two of her roles.

“The UK paperback [of I Let You Go] comes out in April next year, so I will be appearing at ChipLitFest, which is both exciting and daunting,” she says.

More about Clare and read her blog at claremackintosh.com
Follow her on Twitter @claremackint0sh