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?
Hi, I’m Margaret Lossl , and I have enjoyed 60 summers on this fair planet. My pen name is, M.A. Lossl. Thank you for inviting me to your blog. It’s an honour to reach out to readers.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born and now live, in the historic city of Bath, England. My dad was the head chef at the Royal York Hotel in Bath, way back in the late 50’s.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I am married with three lovely, grow up children. My career has been in IT. In my late 30’s I discovered I had a gift for Information Technology. I trained through the Open University, and have had a long, successful career as an IT consultant. Since 2011, I have been researching and writing fulltime. It’s a wonderful blessing because I get to spend more time with my seven grandchildren. My passions are history, and genealogy.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
With my husband, Graham, I have had the privilege, of enjoying a travelling adventure. We set off last December, on a cruise ship, bound for Dubai, via the Suez Canal. He served in the Royal Navy during Desert Storm, so it was a trip down memory lane. We returned home, just after Christmas to repack. In January we cruised to America. It was a fun but bumpy trip with storm winds and 45 ft waves! We then lived on Hilton Head in South Carolina, where I worked to publish my recent book, Betweenwhiles: a family between two wars – a true story of rebellion against Nazism. Hilton Head is a lovely place to stay. We enjoyed lots of cycling, swimming and wonderful American craft beer. In March we began our returned journey home. This took us to the Islands of the Caribbean and then the Atlantic, Portuguese islands of the Azores. For our final treat, we visited Spain before flying home from Rome, in April. It’s wonderful to be back home to tell our grandchildren about our adventures.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing my first book, Mizpah Cousins: Love, life and perilous predicaments during the Great war era, in 2011. My husband and I were both laid off from our jobs in that year. This prompted our first big adventure and our first cruise, from America to Australia. I found the library on the ship, a perfect place to take my laptop to work on my book. The sea is a wonderful inspiration when the writing muse abandons me.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
As an IT professional, part of my job was writing technical manuals, so I guess writing has always been part of who I am. It was a great gift to be able to start writing fulltime as a historical novelist, in 2011.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
When my dear Mum died in 2008, I began to research my Anglo/German family history. The story I discovered, amazed me. But my family found my piles of birth, death and marriage certificates, uninspiring. Neither were they impressed by the documents and social history my research uncovered. The facts about our family, during WW1, inspired an incredible tale. So, I hit on the idea of telling my family a story through a novel. My family live all over the world; the UK, Germany, America and the Antipodes. Publishing through Amazon was the easiest way to share the book. My family loved the story and have been appreciative of my efforts. Then to my joy, hundreds of readers, beyond my family, have also enjoyed Mizpah Cousins.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The main characters in the book are my grandmothers, who were cousins. During World War One, so many lives were lost, and families parted, the ethos of Mizpah became a comfort. Mizpah is from Genesis 31:49 “May the Lord watch between me and thee when we are absent from one another.”
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I have evolved from writing technical manuals, to writing historical novels. It has been a huge learning curve. My aim is to write in a clear and easy-to-read style. To render a tale, in a way that enables the reader to immerse into the story, without me interfering. Reading great writers like Hilary Mantel helps to develop my skill. I’m always on the lookout to develop and improve my writing style.
Never rest on your laurels, has always been my mantra.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My books centre on my family history. But the minutia of everyday life is lost in the mists of time. So, there are elements, where I have used my knowledge of family and stories told to fill in the gaps. But many elements are from history. For instance, the family neighbours are accurate from the 1911 census record. Their stories I pieced together, monitoring lives changed from the last census.
Being British, the weather is a strong theme in my writing. The UK has a historical record of the daily weather stretching back over hundreds of years. See http://www.london-weather.eu/article.51.html. I find it fascinating setting known facts, like a wedding, knowing what the weather was like on the day.
Sometimes the records have a scant account of an event. Like my grandmother’s refugee journey from France to Germany. I researched the relevant social history. From that, I deduced the most logical course of events.
Social history research from the era, like the Booth Maps of London. See https://booth.lse.ac.uk/map/14/-0.1174/51.5064/100/0, gave me an insight into my London family’s social and economic status.
My website has a story on this https://margaretlossl.com/2016/05/04/booth-archive-spidts-street-london/
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
It has been a blessing to be able to travel to locations in the book. London is only 100 miles away. My research got me on contact with long lost family living on the Isle of Dogs in the East end of London. I have visited Bermuda and Germany. The other location in the book, Versailles, France, I was able to visit before I began to write. It is the place where my father was born, and it gave me great insight into his childhood. Other venues, I ‘visit’ via Google Earth.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I designed the cover for Mizpah Cousins. But the jacket for Betweenwhiles was the work of a local graphic designer Rachel Powell. You can read more about the story of how I met Rachel here, https://margaretlossl.com/2018/05/13/do-you-judge-a-book-by-its-cover/
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
As an author, I believe the reader owns the story. My readers are free to relate my story to their own experience. My stories have historical settings, but the themes seem relevant today. Readers reviews often give me an insight that I have not considered before.
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?
The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund de Waal has influenced my work. He tells a great story. And as I have mentioned before, Hilary Mantel is awesome. But I have been a bookworm from a child and have read all the classics, Dufoe, C.S.Lewis, Tolkien, to name but a few. I love stories that are simply told and immerse you completely.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
LinkedIn.com is like Facebook for professionals. Here, an eclectic group of people from all walks of life are connected. Many are authors and history researchers. From this website, I’ve found lots of help. For instance, translating an old form of German and help with finding my father’s war service record. But the person who has helped me never to give up, has been the author and artist, Rob Lee. We met through Linked In. You can find out more about Rob here, http://www.robleebooks.com or find him on Instagram or https://uk.linkedin.com/in/rob-lee-b8196441
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I am happy with my latest book. But it would be wonderful if Rachel Powell, my graphic designer could create a new cover for my first book, Mizpah Cousins.An Art Nouveau theme would match the WW1 era and work nicely with the Art Deco of Betweenwhiles.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
My writing skills have developed and I’m more confident about my craft. But the story of my Uncles imprisonment and torture by the Nazis, in 1933, was a huge revelation.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
A difficult one that;I think Daniel Craig would play my heroic Uncle Emil well.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Use an iterative approach, planned approach. Never give up. Learn as you go.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I deeply admire people who read. You are the reason for an author’s existence. Without you, we are nothing. I’m working hard on the next instalment of my family saga. Set during WW2, it has another amazing story of ordinary folk, to tell.
THANK YOU, for your kind interest and support.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Researching my mother’s role working for MI6 during WW2, I’m reading Spies in the Sky by Taylor Downing.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My grandchildren make me hoot with laughter. Life is too short for tears, but sometime grief will out.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
The usual greats are well documented, like Winston Churchill or the Dali Lama. I would love to meet my Great Great Grandmother, Amelia Henselück. Her records are not available to me at the moment. I would love to make her a pot of tea and ask her about her long, riches to rags life. I have so many unanswered questions.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
My small garden is a big treasure. I love researching genealogy, but with that, I guess my hobby has become my career. I love to travel with my dear husband Graham. I also enjoy sewing. My mother was a dress designer and taught me sewing skills before I could read.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I enjoy historical dramas like Ripper Street. And, of course, Who Do You Think You Are. I must confess, I have never seen Downton Abbey. I enjoy movies based on fact, like Churchill. I’m yet to watch Darkest Hour. The only genre I dislike is Horror.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Home cooked healthy food. The rainbow of colours. Happy music.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
With my grandchildren.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I would like my ashes to be spread in as many places that I have visited, as possible. My books will be my headstone.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Thank you, Fiona, this has been great fun. My Website and blog is https://margaretlossl.com/
My authors page USA https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B00NCSTQY8?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true
My authors page UK https:/www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00NCSTQY8
Access to my publications here https://margaretlossl.com/books-available-2/