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 pen name is Liz Martinson and wow! I’m 67 but don’t feel anything like near that age.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Difficult! I was born in Northumberland, spent my childhood from age 6 to leaving for college in Saddleworth and then moved around a bit with my husband – Cheltenham, Leeds, Gargrave, Blackwell, Gargrave and now Leyburn. You could say the bulk of my time has been in North Yorkshire.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I attended a grammar school, went back to Northumberland and completed my teacher training. I refused to stay on for a fourth year to do my BEd as I’d met my soon-to-be husband and wanted to go with him. He was an engineering student from Newcastle University and his first job was in Cheltenham. With us, it was pretty well love at first sight. He said he saw me across a room at a party and thought, “She’s the one.” We met at the start of May in 1973, were living together by the end of June 1973 and we were married in Cheltenham (very, very small wedding) in December in 1974. Never looked back, clocking up 45 official years this year. If I had my choice again, he’d still be the one. Our life has generally been one of an outdoor nature. Tent camping led to small caravans and when away (weekends and holidays) we walked, cycled, went wild swimming, explored, went to various castles, stately homes, museums. We had non-identical twin sons and when they came along, we continued the same lifestyle but kayaks were an extra addition. Great life. Started travelling in Europe as well. Our activities are being somewhat limited by various things such as getting tired more quickly but we’re just back from six weeks in France where we walked, cycled, kayaked and went to a chateau and a museum. I also love music, ballet, cooking, reading, photography, writing and reading. We don’t (which surprises people greatly) have a television.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I have a contemporary romance in submission with Harlequin Mills and Boon. I’ve just completed another contemporary romance but am agonising over the ending and whether or not to modify it! I’m in the final chapters of a book I started writing last November and I have a Victorian romance in the planning stages.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always loved reading and always adored story-writing at school. I suppose my first real foray into writing to entertain was when I was around 14 and I wrote romantic thriller adventures which got passed round on the school bus and seemed to keep everyone entertained. Busy for quite a few years after that with schooling, career and kids, I completed a Master’s Degree and had got so used to writing massively long essays that I got attached to the computer keyboard and started writing fiction again. Another pause when I started quite a demanding job and when I retired I dug out my old works, realised they had some potential, re-edited and brought them up to date and it’s gone on since then. Compulsion to create characters? Entertain? Sheer enjoyment?
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Still working on that one!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
No idea. Just things in my head that wanted to be turned into a story.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I had an imaginative place based on two or three areas of Scotland and found a place name for it. Used the place name as the title as it’s pretty well where the whole book takes place.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Everyone who’s read my contemporary romance books say they’re page-turning and readable and I do think I manage to get that across. I’ve received critique with regard to points of view and this is definitely an area I need to look at and work on.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Many of the places/scenery/actions are taken from my own experiences. Usually the falling in love bit is based on what happened with my husband and myself! The characters just sort of turn up!
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Not specifically. I’ve travelled lot anyway, I usually use places I already know.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I’ve done two and my son did the third (as yet unpublished) one
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not specifically. They are to entertain and leave people feeling satisfied and happy. Winter nights, summer holidays type reading.
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?
Kate Atkinson. Love her books, her humour, her superb use of coincidence. She’s way out of my league! Lots of Harlequin authors write enjoyable books. I generally prefer historical and am not a fan of the more extreme romance genres recently emerging. Nor am I a fan of the billionaire type of romance as I firmly believe enough money is enough and too much can cause grief and discontent.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
The people who have read and commented on my books so far, some of whom I know and others who are strangers.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
No, not at 67! But if I give people a little pleasure, that’s good enough for me.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not the latest one no,, but I do have one which needs completely pulling to pieces and re-writing. The characters are too good to abandon but the hero’s behaviour needs modification and that will have a domino-effect!
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Certain medical and police procedural facts. I’m fortunate in having a niece who is a doctor and a neighbour who is an ex-policeman!
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Depends which book. For Counterpoint, a cross between Bruce Springsteen in his younger days, and Aiden Turner!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Keep trying. Edit, edit, edit. Be prepared to change parts of your book. Accept critique as a building tool.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thank you, very humbly, for any kind words spoken or written about my books. They mean the world to me.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Laurie Benson, An Unexpected Countess
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No. I realised when I toured Hill Top Farm that I’d read lots of Beatrix Potter, probably when I was around 3. I have read voraciously all my life and can never remember when I started or which book! My first adult book, read when I was about 10, was Katherine, by Anya Seton.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I like clever humour which doesn’t rely on belittling someone. (Kate Atkinson can make me laugh and cry within a few pages of her books!) I cry for sad and sentimental reasons – remembering people now lost to me, seeing or hearing something moving. Difficult to quantify, really.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Lots! For all sorts of reasons, from curiosity about the period of time they lived in, to find out about my own family’s history, to see how they tick.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Reading, writing, photography, cooking, line dancing, kayaking, walking, biking, music, ballet (to watch)
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Um…no television! However, I do have Downton Abbey on DVD and love that. Also various Jane Austen adaptations, Doc Martin, Case Histories. We buy DVDs and watch when we choose, for as long as we choose. Films – loved Mamma Mia and the follow-up but on a more serious note, The Theory of Everything was excellent. And various in-between!
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I prefer savoury to sweet, always. Love food far too much! Love fish and chips! Hotpot. Roast chicken. A good cheese board. Oh, dear…I could go on forever!
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 husband, talking, being together, probably crying. I’d love to see my sons as well. I wrote a poem about that, sort of.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Loved life. Tried not to waste a moment.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I have a facebook page Liz Martinson. I assume people can find it even if not linked to my own FB page. I have a very intermittent blog on Medium, where I also post some writing and a few poems. Suspect that once taken to Medium you might have to enter Liz Martinson to find my work.