Monday 3 November 2014

Guest Author Interview - Maggie James

In this week's Guest Author Interview Maggie James tells us about herself and her writing. Discover more below:

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Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do? 
My name is Maggie James and I’m a British writer of psychological suspense novels. I’ve been writing novels since December 2010, publishing them since March 2013, and nothing could make me happier!

What first inspired you to start writing?
I was inspired by an impending milestone birthday along with a healthy dose of annoyance at having procrastinated for so long in writing a novel. You see, I’ve always yearned to be a novelist. I started writing stories when I was a child, some of which were published, with one being awarded a prize. When I became an adult, though, it all petered out and I didn’t write again for a very long time. The urge never went away, though, and gradually I become frustrated with my lack of action. I dipped my toe back into the writing water by penning short stories, which I published free online. They received very favourable reviews, which encouraged me to consider starting my long-delayed novel. Eventually, I reached the point of no return with the dissatisfaction I felt in my day job, and determined to leave. The plan? To travel for a year and return with a finished novel. And that’s exactly what happened. The first draft of my debut novel, entitled ‘His Kidnapper’s Shoes’, was written whilst travelling in Bolivia, a country for which I’ll always feel affection. Not only is it stunningly beautiful, it gave birth to my novel-writing career.

Which author do you most admire and why?
Difficult one! I tend to go in phases with authors, reading as much as I can of one before moving on to someone new. Writers that spring to mind include George Orwell, George Gissing, Iris Murdoch, Thomas Hardy and Lee Child. All of them have written stories that entertain and captivate.

Where do your best ideas come from?
The ideas themselves can come from anywhere – a conversation, a news report, a workshop. I’ll read or hear something, and a metaphorical lightbulb will flash in my brain, signalling a possible idea for a plot. Like most authors, I keep a notebook and pen handy for when inspiration strikes. When it comes to firming up those ideas into a novel plot, I think more clearly when walking in fresh air and sunshine, although we don’t get much of the latter in the UK! I walk, and I think, and somehow the ideas all come together for me.

Are you a planner? Or do you prefer to dive straight into the writing? 
I’m very much a planner. I learned that the hard way with ‘His Kidnapper’s Shoes’. I had no idea back then about writing software such as Scrivener, the package I now use. Instead, I drafted some notes in Excel, with a line for each chapter summary and a tab for each character, and then started bashing away in Word. The result was a huge 143,000-word draft that needed severe pruning and revision. It was a pain to edit, I remember that much! Nowadays I work very differently. I plan each scene and chapter first in Scrivener, before I start writing, as well as giving myself a timescale to get it all done. I use Scrivener at all stages of the writing process, whether I’m plotting, writing, revising or publishing. I’d never want to write without it again; it’s that good.

Do you read in the same genre that you write? 
Yes, I do, but then I read in most genres, apart from romance. My favourites are definitely thrillers and suspense, especially ones that incorporate a strong psychological element, such as Gillian Flynn’s novels. I prefer psychological thrillers to straight-up crime novels; for me, the exploration of the dark corners of the mind is all-important, and my own novels reflect that.

What makes your stories stand out? 
So far, I’ve set them all in my home town of Bristol, which has been fun to do, as well as making life easier. Bristol is a beautiful city, so I’m happy for now to base my novels there. And as mentioned above, I don’t write pure crime fiction, although so far my books have all included an element of crime. I prefer to home in on the strong feelings engendered by crime, and what those feelings lead to.

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently revising and editing my fourth novel, ready for publication later this year. I’m also writing a novella, which I plan to give away on my website to anyone who signs up for my newsletter. Before the end of the year, I also want to have plotted my fifth novel, ready for writing in 2015.

Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more.
By the time this interview is published, my fourth novel may have already been published. It all depends on how the editing process goes! I’ve not yet decided on a title, although I’ve provisionally called it ‘Rebuilding Beth Sutton’. For me, that’s usually one of the last things I do; it takes me ages to find a title with which I’m happy. The novel focusses on the fascinating psychological condition known as Stockholm syndrome, in which victims become emotionally attached to their abusers. In it, a young woman is abducted and kept prisoner in a basement by an emotionally damaged man, before managing to escape. Back in her former life, however, she embarks on a course of self-destruction as she battles the effects of Stockholm syndrome. Details of all my novels are on my website, If I’ve not yet published no 4, my last completed novel is ‘Guilty Innocence’, a gritty novel examining child murder and dysfunctional families, telling of one man’s struggle to break free from his past. You can find it here:

Click here to buy Guilty Innocence from Amazon US / Amazon UK

1 comment:

  1. Great interview. After a long break from fiction writing I've found I need to plan more. My stories never get finished if I just write as I go or they lose interest. Best wishes with book 4 Maggie.