Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Thank you very much for hosting me, Fiona. My name’s Margot Kinberg
Fiona: Where are you from?
I’m originally from the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, and spent most of my adult life in the Philadelphia area before heading west.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’m married, with a family, and owned by two dogs. Currently, we live in California. Professionally, I’ve been in secondary and higher education for a number of years (with the exception of a few years in advertising). I think I got addicted to university life during my undergraduate years, which were a very positive experience for me.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I’m hoping that the fourth in my Joel Williams series will be published in early 2018. No firm date yet, but that’s what I hope. In the meantime, I’m doing edits on that book, and working on two other standalones. Life’s never dull!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I think I’ve been writing most of my life. I began writing stories when I was about eleven years old. I had a teacher who really encouraged me, and helped me see myself as a writer. I started writing because of a school assignment that turned into my first real opportunity to tell a full-length story. I’ve never looked back. The process of growing up, family, career, and the like took precedence for a long time, but I’ve done other stories (mercifully now hidden) since then. And then came my full-length novel writing.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Well, I didn’t call myself one until about ten years ago. But I’ve thought of myself as someone who writes for a few decades. A student once referred to me as a ‘wordsmith,’ and that made me think.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My family did. It all came out of a dinner-table conversation. I told a work-related story, and my family encouraged me to write a novel that takes place at a university. The rest, as they say…
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Do you mean Past Tense? That title was easy, to be honest. I have a language background, and the novel is a blend of past and present. So it came naturally, if that makes sense.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I don’t tend to write very violent or explicit scenes. Most of the time, I don’t think they add to a story. I’d rather focus on other things, even though I do know that real life can get horribly violent. It’s just not my way of telling a story. So, when I do need a scene that’s violent, that can be a challenge.
I come from an academic background, so it’s also been my habit over the years to be brief when I write. The problem with that is that sometimes, character development gets sacrificed. So is atmosphere. I’ve had to learn to add those things in. I’m still learning that.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I sometimes create characters that are composites of people or ‘types’ I’ve known. I’ve also been known to – ahem – borrow someone’s given name or surname. But no, I don’t write about real people I know. My experiences do impact what I write and how I write, though. I may not describe every detail of an actual experience, but the gist? Yes, sometimes, that gets into my writing. I don’t see how it couldn’t, really.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I don’t really, not with today’s Internet and easy telephone access. I should say, though, that part of the reason for that is that my series takes place in a part of Pennsylvania that I know. I’m sure that if I placed a story or novel in a setting I’ve not visited, I would have to travel and spend some time there to really get to know it.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I am so very glad you asked. I am lucky enough to have a very talented artist for my covers: Lesley Fletcher. She’s also a writer (so may be someone you might want to ‘meet’). And she does some of the most brilliant artwork, I think. Folks, do check out her site and consider her artwork.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I honestly don’t write with a deliberate message in mind. I suppose some of my own philosophical and other personal views come out in my writing, but it’s not conscious. I would rather think of my books as enjoyment for readers – you know, ‘Sit back, relax, and enjoy (what I hope will be) a good story.’ If readers find themselves engaged enough to think, ‘What would I do?’ or ‘Hey, I didn’t know that!’ so much the better.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I don’t have just one top writer on my list. There are too many. But you asked about new writers, so I’d like to put a word in for the Ngaio Marsh Awards for the best in New Zealand crime fiction. I am privileged to be a part of the team that selects the winner of the Best First Novel Award. That means I am spoiled for fresh, compelling new voices in the genre. In the past two years, I’ve read more than 22 fine debut novels from writers I certainly hope to read again.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I am very fortunate to have had the support and help of some wonderful close friends who’ve read drafts (and told me the truth about them), and encouraged me to keep at it. I think every author needs a ‘cheering squad’ like that. Without them there would be no books.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I certainly do. Even though I have a ‘day job,’ I take my writing very seriously, and try to be as attentive to it as I am to the ‘day job.’ I’m not at a point in my life where I can just write, but if that time ever comes, I want to be ready for it.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Do you mean in terms of plot and characters? Well, I think a person can always work to make characters richer, suspense better used, and so on. People are human, therefore not perfect. That means books aren’t. But I don’t think I left anything glaring out of this last book. And each time I write, I try to learn so that the next book will be better.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Oh, I learn things with every book I write. This time, I learned a lot about tying a past case to a present case, as that’s the main focus of the novel. And I learned things about preparing a book to get published, too. I had to learn any number of details that have to be considered. Some of them the hard way.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Let’s see…It’s funny, because I almost don’t want to answer this question. I would far rather readers decide for themselves what my main character, Joel Williams, looks like. I didn’t envision a particular actor playing Joel Williams when I first started writing about him. But I rather imagine him looking a bit like a slightly younger Mark Harmon – the same approximate build, height, and so on.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Yes. Read in your genre. Learn how other authors – even authors whose work you don’t like – do things. Find out and take lessons from what they do and don’t do. Read outside your genre, too. Find out what’s going on in the world of books.
Also, write. A lot. Every day. Even if it’s just a sentence, don’t lose the daily discipline of writing, or it has a nasty habit of slipping away.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Actually, there is. I’d like to thank those who’ve been kind enough to read my work and share their thoughts on it. It means a lot to me that people are interested and supportive enough to read what I write.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Right now, I’m just about to start Sarah Ward’s A Patient Fury, the third in her DC Connie Childs series. She’s highly talented, so I’m very much looking forward to reading that one.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Hmm… looking back now, I’d have to say it was probably a fairy tale. I honestly can’t be sure, but that sounds about right. That was a long time ago…
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
That depends a lot on the situation. But I will say that I do love a good ‘one-liner’ sort of quip, so long as it’s not malicious or mean-spirited. And I find dry wit especially appealing.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Oh, there are several people I’d put in that category. Speaking strictly about books, I would love to meet Agatha Christie. Whether you like her work or not, it’s had such an influence on the genre. There are also present-day writers, such as Gail Bowen, Louise Penny, and Paddy Richardson, whom I’d love to meet, too. There are many others, too, even keeping only to authors. As for non-authors, anyone who knows me will know that I would love to meet Billy Joel. I’ve been a dedicated fan for a long time.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I love music. I used to do keyboards – strictly coffee-house style – and that was a lot of fun. My interest in music has given me so much respect for people who really do music as a career.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I watch my share of crime dramas. The last few series I caught up on were The Dr. Blake Mysteries, Vera, and Hinterland. I do sometimes watch other sorts of shows, but I like a well-written crime series. And by well-written I mean not overly brutal or too ‘slick’ or unrealistic. All right, I admit it; I’m particular about that.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I especially like seafood and pasta (and sometimes, both at the same time). And anyone who knows me will tell you that teal/turquoise get my top vote every time. As for music, I’m eclectic. There aren’t that many genres I won’t listen to, honestly. The music I choose really depends a lot on my mood, what I’m doing, and what the context is.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Without writing? That would be very, very difficult. I think I’d always play with words in some way or another, even if I did stop writing novels. I would probably want to find another outlet for creativity (art, more music, something like that).
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Oh, that’s a really fascinating question. I don’t know about a head stone, but I’d hope people would have good memories of me.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Thank you. I live at http://margotkinberg.wordpress.com . I haunt other places too, such as Twitter, Amazon, and so on. All of the links can be found on my ‘home site.’
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/margot.kinberg
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Margot-Kinberg/e/B001HPU6V0
Links to books:
In a Word: Murder: https://www.amazon.com/Word-Murder-Margot-Kinberg/dp/1495931684