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?
My name is Margaret R Blake – I use this form as there is another author with the same name) I am on the young side of 67
Fiona: Where are you from?
I am northern hemisphere born, spending almost 10 years in Britain. I now live in Queensland after living for thirty-three years in Tasmania – a place I regard as my southern home.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Education for me has been an ongoing thing starting with the regular stuff until high school, graphic design at college, editing and proofreading a few years ago with Open Colleges, and lots of other bits in between. I was married many years ago and have two fine grown-up children. I have lived on my own for an age – and I love it. Never a dull moment.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I have just launched my latest book, ‘The Healing,’ a novel set in medieval times. It was my first foray into writing for adult. I am now focusing on my ongoing series, Merlin’s School #3, and a second novel for adults.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing about twenty-five years ago after reading a particularly horrendously written novel. It was a personal challenge for me.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was picked up by a small publisher for my first middle-grade novel, Merlin’s School for Ordinary Children – The Ring of Curses. To me that signalled that I was doing okay.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book was a disaster as I was trying to write like Stephen King. There is only one Stephen King! I then fiddled around with other bits and pieces, took two writing courses and then started developing my own style. My first book came from the ending of the Harry Potter series. I thought … ‘What am I going to do now for my magic fix?’ That’s when I came up with my idea for Merlin’s School -no witches or wizards in that castle … or is there?
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
My titles come to me before the story. The story seems to unfold out of them like a flower opening up its petals … allowing me to see the words I need at the time.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Each individual story I write dictates its own style – it has its own voice – so they are all different. Is it challenging? Sometimes, when trying to keep the plot together and running as it should.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I like to take a little bit of history to incorporate into my backstories. I find this makes for a good solid base. Little bits of people I know or whom I have met in the past do find their way into my stories, but I think that’s the way it is with all writers. I use a lot of my own experiences also, as this gives a real feel to the characters. I don’t like to be too airy-fairy within my imaginary worlds.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I only travel to the library, and these days that’s online, so I don’t go far. At my age I don’t want to.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I design my own covers because I have a specific idea in mind of what I want. I get my images from online, and of course, I give all the credit to the artists involved. Not all of us are as talented as they are in this department.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
In all my novels there is a touch of wisdom. It’s usually subtly woven into the story – nobody wants it shoved down their throat. Novels are designed to entertain, but it doesn’t hurt to learn something from them as well … like friendship, co-operation, even learning about ourselves and what we are capable of.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favourite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Once I followed particular authors, but these days I find it is the storyline that grabs my attention. There are a lot of them out there these days.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My first publisher, Kerry B Collison, I guess. He’s a big-time author himself so that counted for something.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
No. It’s a hobby. In the big pond that is Amazon, people like me are only little fish unless a big wig catches you on their hook. But I’m happy, so that’s what counts in the long run.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. It took many months to get the information in ‘The Healing’ together. I had help from Beta readers for the first time ever and I found that this was what I needed with this book. It was very time-consuming to write as it was imperative to get it right.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes … patience. I found also I gained more focus, which is always a good thing with a craft of any type.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Now that’s a tough one. I have a picture in mind, but actually putting it to a real face is difficult. I’ll have to think on this one.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Yes. Do it! And let your words flow. Don’t worry about all the grammatical things. A writer needs to find their voice and this, I found, was the best way to do it. Then just keep at it.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Firstly, and always, thank you. And please … let me know what you think. I’m always open to improvement.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
A crime thriller by Sue Grafton, The Book of Forgotten Authors, by Christopher Fowler, and I’ve just finished a murder mystery by Karen Slaughter. I’ll read almost anything except politics, sports-based novels and biographies.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Possibly … Black Beauty. I love horses. If not that it was Wind in the Willows – one of my favourite books.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I have a very British sense of humour, so I love good comedy. A lot of British sit-coms would do it for me, like the Two Ronnies, or Black Adder. St. Trinians movies are fantastic. America comedy show M*A*S*H is clever, love the Big Bang Theory, and Friends was great in its time also. I try not to take life too seriously. As for crying … I’m pretty soft-hearted. It’s the usually the sweet things that animals do, a tragic love-story, or an uplifting struggle by someone who is deserving.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Jimi Hendix. I think he was magical. He was a very spiritually person, as well as being extremely talented. But then he’s the first person who come to mind.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Yes, I love needlework in all forms and do quilting as well. I like to create, even if it’s only in a small way. I would walk more if I could get out into an English wood, but sadly they are two far away.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’m a movie buff so therefore I’m always on the look out for one. Sometimes I’ll do a repeat … even a repeat of a repeat but that is because there is so much rubbish on TV these days. Other than that, I choose to watch British shows.
Fiona: Favourite foods, colours, music?
I enjoy food in general. Love to be surrounded by colour. As for music I like something different and find I’m looking for stuff that is from the past, even way back to medieval times. Love the harp.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Read or stitch.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
With my children.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
She had a go at most things!
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
My web site is www.margaret-r-blake.com I post my new books, news and general stuff on here.