Today I’d like to welcome psychological suspense author Maggie James to the blog. Maggie is the author of four novels and is about to publish a book helping people to write their first novel. Write Your Novel! will be published on the 1st July.
What piece of advice do you wish you had been told before you began writing?
I wish I’d been aware that being a novelist involves much more than writing books. I hadn’t a clue about marketing, running promotions or maintaining a website and social media presence. Not that I don’t enjoy those things – I do, very much – but I overlooked how much time they take. If only someone had warned me, I’d have been better prepared. It’s easy to be wise after the event!
What was it that you wrote that made you think ‘I could be good at this’?
That thought cropped up after I published my first (and very short!) piece of fanfiction online. For decades I’d not allowed anyone to read anything I’d written, so I was nervous about uploading it. To my delight, by the next morning I’d received a few favourable reviews. The confidence boost they gave me was incredible. I wrote and posted longer fanfiction stories, which continued to attract good reviews. After a few months, I felt confident enough to tackle a novel. I’ll always be grateful to fanfiction for the boost it gave my writing career.
How much research do you tend to do before starting to write a new book?
It depends on the subject of the book. For example, my third novel, Guilty Innocence, presented me with a tough issue. The plot involves a man who is given a fresh identity upon his release from prison, to prevent vigilante attacks. I made enquiries concerning the process involved, but the details are, quite rightly, kept secret. The police officer I asked pointed out that meant I had some poetic licence in what I wrote. Thank goodness for that!
For The Second Captive, I delved into Stockholm syndrome; it’s a fascinating psychological condition. For those of us lucky enough not to have experienced it, it’s hard to understand how someone can form an attachment to their abuser/kidnapper. They can, though, hence the twisted relationship between Beth Sutton and her abductor.
For His Kidnapper’s Shoes I had to study DNA and how eye colour is passed from parents to children. The research for Sister, Psychopath was the most fun. Why? Because it involved checking out some of the bars and restaurants in Bristol – heaven for a foodie like me!
Tell us about your forthcoming book. What made you decide to write it?
My next book is entitled Write Your Novel! From Getting Started to First Draft. It’s aimed at encouraging would-be novelists to tackle their first book. So many people tell me they yearn to write a novel, but haven’t a clue how to start. That was me not so long ago! I’d love to do anything I can to help such individuals. It’s a cliché, sure, but life’s too short not to follow your dreams. The book will be published on July 1 at an introductory price of $0.99/£0.99. It’s available now for pre-order. Here’s the link:
What is the best thing about being a writer….. Doing something I love and getting paid for it. The last few years have been a huge learning curve, but I’ve enjoyed every minute. Since childhood, I’ve always wanted to be a novelist, so I’m delighted to have made that dream come true.
. ….and the worst thing? Some people ask writers intrusive questions. I often get grilled about how much money I make, how many books I’ve sold, etc. I doubt they’d quiz a business person concerning their turnover and profit figures! (Or maybe they would…) A few authors are upfront about such things, but I regard my finances as a personal matter.
Do you reward yourself after reaching a word count target or finishing a draft? If so, how?
Word count targets are a big thing for me. I set them for each chapter and for the book itself, and I find it hugely motivational to watch them rise. That for me is its own reward. I’m on a mission to double my daily output from 2,000 words to 4,000 – I relish a challenge! A reward after finishing a draft? Definitely. The sense of accomplishment is amazing – it’s a milestone event. I’m a complete foodie, so my treats revolve around a delicious meal at a good restaurant.
What is it about psychological thrillers you enjoy the most?
I find human behaviour fascinating although I’m sceptical about conventional theories of psychology. I’ve always been a keen reader, so books that marry psychology with a great story hold an obvious appeal. I’ll read most genres, however.
Is there anything in your writing journey you wish you could have done differently? Whilst there’s no point in regretting what I can’t change, I wish I’d not deferred novel-writing for so long. Had I realised the joy it would bring to my life, I’d have started much sooner. It’s a shame I procrastinated for so long. Now I’m on a mission to make up for lost time! And if I can help other writers, I will.
What book do you wish you had written?
Any of Stephen King’s longer novels. Not that his shorter fiction isn’t great – it is. With his epic books, though, how the man maintains such incredible writing throughout 700 to 900 pages amazes me. I loved 11.22.63 and Talisman.
Thank you Maggie for taking part in this interview, it has been very interesting. I hope all goes well with the publication of Write Your Novel!
If you want to find out more about Maggie or follow/friend her on social media, then please use the links below.
Google+ : https://plus.google.com/101511690389687930651