Her first novel, entitled His Kidnapper’s Shoes, was written whilst travelling in Bolivia. Maggie was inspired by an impending milestone birthday along with a healthy dose of annoyance at having procrastinated for so long in writing a novel. His Kidnapper’s Shoes was published in both paperback and e-book format in 2013, followed by her second novel, entitled Sister, Psychopath. Her third novel, Guilty Innocence, like her first two, features her home city of Bristol. She has recently published her fourth novel, The Second Captive. Maggie has also written Write Your Novel! From Getting Started to First Draft, to inspire would-be novelists to write their first book.
Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practising as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practising yoga or travelling, Maggie can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love!
What inspires you to write?
I’ve wanted to be a novelist all my life. I write because it’s the most natural thing in the world to me. As to what inspires me, I’m drawn to strong emotions and the events that engender them. The basis of my first book, His Kidnapper’s Shoes, was the question: how would it feel to discover you’d been abducted as a child? How might Daniel Bateman react on finding out his so-called mother was his kidnapper? I love delving into the human psyche and answering such questions! The workings of the mind fascinate me.
I also like to dig deep into unusual psychological issues. For example, The Second Captive deals with the theme of Stockholm syndrome, the psychological tendency of a hostage to bond with his or her captor. The novella I’m working on has compulsive hoarding as a sub-theme. In Guilty Innocence, Mark Slater has an obsession with counting rituals. Such quirks intrigue me.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m a planner/outliner when it comes to my books. I’ve tried the ‘seats of the pants’ approach; it doesn’t work for me. I need a framework to guide my writing, the assurance that all plot holes have been plugged and that the story hangs together. I use Scrivener writing software, which makes planning a breeze. I’ve created a template for my novels, complete with questions that I work through to help me create my characters, locations, etc. I use Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method to plot, working from a one-sentence synopsis up to a full-blown outline.
I’d like to spend longer on plotting. I’ve found I always need to tweak some aspect once I get writing, and I aim to prevent that with better planning.
I write about 3,000 words per day during the week, less at the weekends. It takes me between one and two months to complete my first draft. Then the hard work of revising and editing starts! Unlike many authors, I love that part. When I deem the book is ready, I release it to my team of beta readers, all of whom are incredibly helpful. It’s rare for me not to implement their suggestions. After that, it’s publication time – always a scary moment! Scrivener helps me with that too. A few clicks and the software compiles my manuscript into e-book format, ready to upload to Amazon and the other sales platforms.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I plan my characters in depth before I write. My aim is to know them so well that eventually I don’t need my notes. When I’m not writing, I run through scenes from the book in my head, another way of getting to know my characters. I observe and listen as they go about their business in my head. What’s fascinating is when they take on a life of their own and break away from my initial evaluation of them. That’s good, although it often means revising my plot, because it means they’re becoming more well-rounded.
Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen King is a master of his craft and I devour his books whenever I get a new one. I am in awe of the man’s talent and prolific output, not to mention the length of some of his books. I love his longer fiction and 11.22.63 was an incredible book, one with a perfect ending. Magic!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My decision to self-publish was influenced by a woman I met whilst travelling, who suggested I look into it. Up until then, I’d assumed I’d try to find an agent or publisher for my work. When I researched self-publishing, I was sold on the idea and I’ve never regretted my decision. I love the fact it’s me, not a publishing company, who controls my career. Not to mention the high royalties, monthly payouts and the ability to make changes quickly and easily. There’s never been a better time to be an author.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Hard to say – there have been so many changes, and they’ve happened so quickly, that I’m still catching my breath! What I’d like to see is some kind of quality control over self-published books. Anyone can slap a book for sale onto Amazon, which means it’s awash with badly written books full of typos. I’m not sure how that can be avoided though.
I believe traditional publishing will continue to decline. The industry has failed to evolve adequately in response to the challenge from Amazon, etc. For too long publishers failed to treat authors well and now they’re reaping the harvest.
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?