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, Fiona, nice to meet you and all your guests. I’m Sarah… Sarah Stuart, and I’ve just begun to realise forty something has become fifty something, but never mind.
Fiona: Where are you from?
A tiny village with a restaurant and a pub but no shops or post office – very quiet and peaceful and close to the Weir, which winds its way to the sea through County Durham in North-East England.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’m an Adult Literacy Tutor, and a dog-obedience trainer – handlers and dogs, which developed out of showing my own dogs and judging. My daughter has completed her university degree, so it’s just me, my husband, and the dogs at home, unless she’s on holiday and we have her chickens to stay.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
That is very exciting! Book 1 of my new series about Richard and Maria, Three Against the World, was voted the winner of Read Freely’s Best Indie Book of 2018, and the beautiful engraved trophy has just arrived.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began telling myself stories before I learned to write, so it was something that seemed to be a part of who I am. You Only Live Twice? I sure do – once in reality and again through my characters. Come to think of it, that adds up to countless lives.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was commissioned and paid for writing an article in a wildlife magazine that’s published worldwide.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Several things. Having time as family responsibilities lessened and I moved away from the college where I’d been working – a career move for my husband.
A chance meeting with a superstar of stage and screen. “Meeting” isn’t really the right word. He bumped into me, literally, and bought me lunch to make up for trampling on my sandals. My first book, Dangerous Liaisons, is based on the secrets he confided about his life.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The book contains an incidence of the most dangerous liaison of all, so it fitted. It didn’t have a subtitle originally, but I think Dangerous Liaisons: The Backstreet Boy and the Royal Heiress gives readers a better idea of what to expect.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
My writing style is very specific in that I never use dialogue tags. I know most authors do, but I find them intrusive, and they slow the pace of the story.
The biggest challenge about writing romantic suspense is publicity; it’s a very large genre, but I work hard at it because it’s the sort of book I enjoy writing.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I’ve explained the root of my first book, and the same character, Michael Marsh aka The Diamond Superstar, features in all four of the Royal Command Family Saga. They are the continuing story of the impact of one disastrous night.
I do use my own experiences often, but subtly. The Royal Command books are an argument against blood sports, and the Richard and Maria trilogy –I’m currently writing the third book, One Alone in the World – highlights cruelty to unwanted pets.
I should add I donate all my royalties to wildlife and rescue charities worldwide.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I have, and do, travel extensively, so all the settings are observed first-hand, but I don’t write anything that demands a special journey, except sometimes to London. When I first started writing novels, we lived only an hour away by train, and it is the main setting for all my books; it’s the showbiz centre of the world, together with New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, and I have stayed in all those numerous times. Dynasty of Deceit, the third Royal Command book, was great fun to write. Roughly a third is set in America and the rest in countries throughout Europe.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Ruth Coulson. She used to do it only for me, but practice makes perfect makes demand, so she does them for other authors too now.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Absolutely. We should be quicker to forgive and slower to condemn. I don’t write “Christian” fiction, but I am a Christian, and I found that influence came over very strongly in the second book about Richard and Maria.
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 love reading books by new authors. I review books for Readers’ Favorite, so I find some there, but I watch for them on Facebook too. I’ve just had the privilege of reading an advance copy of Senan Gil Senan’s Spectral State, and I loved it.
How new is “new”? Authors I’ve discovered in recent years and follow faithfully include P. L. Parker, John Nicholl, Ruth Coulson – she of the book covers – Rhonda Hopkins. Grant Leishman, David William Allman and Diane M. Johnson. My absolute favourite is Lesley Hayes. I love the psychological depth of her characters, and all her books feature love in some form, so obviously that intrigues me too.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
The simplicity of doing it via Amazon, and their helpfulness – emails the same day! At first, I only ventured into eBooks, but I now have print copies available, and my next project is audio versions.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
No. If I did, I couldn’t give away my royalties. I find it compulsive, and I do believe books are a force for good; we all need escapism sometimes.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’ve just uploaded a new copy of Two Face the World, but only because a friend pointed out two very minor errors I’d missed and I’m a perfectionist. It’s actually the book I’m proudest to have written, which is as it should be if I’ve learned from experience. That, and the beautiful cover ready and waiting, cause me sleepless nights sometimes, wondering if my current writing can match or exceed it.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
That Christian beliefs can surface when you least expect them.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I’m not a huge fan of films, so I’m not the ideal person to answer that question. I was once invited to discuss Dangerous Liaisons and Illicit Passion with readers on Goodreads for a month, and they came up with Nicole Kidman for one of the female leads.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
If their books are well-written and selling, no. I spend hours doing my best to advise people who submit poorly-written books to Readers’ Favorite for review. Sometimes, there’s nothing to say but “you need an editor and a proof-reader” – don’t we all? Others have a great idea they’ve spoiled in some way and I can help. Some authors even say thank you, but I understand those who don’t. I’ve criticised their “baby”, and it’s hard to take, especially if you know it’s true.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
If you enjoyed my book, read the next one? I love reviewers who say they have read the previous book/books, or those looking forward to the next.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m not allowed to reveal the titles of books I’m reading for Readers’ Favorite, and I’ve just started one. I’ll probably look for another by Lesley Hayes next; I haven’t read them all yet.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not personally, no. Before I could read, my mother used to read to me, and the first time it was chapter one from Oliver Twist. A bit advanced when I was about two or three, but it left me with a love of classical literature.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh? Not so-called comedians! I did ask for jokes – clean – on Facebook recently to use in my current book, and they had me in fits of giggles. People showing extraordinary courage can make me cry. I’m not sure why.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Any serving member of the UK government or opposition, so I could ask them why they’re all sure incompetent, self-serving, fools.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Driving, walking my dog/s, music, music, and more music.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
The last film I saw in a cinema was Mamma Mia, the Movie, which was one of the few filmed musicals that was completely different from the stage version and each is as good as the other. Very rarely, I watch DVDs – Goodnight Mr Tom – The Railway Children – Shakespeare in Love… Live TV is a bore that goes ignored beyond my laptop, except sometimes for quizzes or a properly-researched drama.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Fillet steak with mushrooms, chicken chow mein, bananas, apricots, black cherries, fruit cake, and chocolate chip cookies.
Red, shades of blue, and white when it’s frost sparkling on green grass.
Songs from musicals and opera, classical, and country.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Catch up with my “to be read” list, very likely on a cruise ship.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Committing suicide as fast and painlessly as possible.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Nothing. Headstones are a waste of space, or they are on a tiny island like the UK, and they encourage people to leave flowers on graves to die.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?