Today I’m delighted to welcome Margaret Kaine to the blog. Margaret’s moment to remember, as she calls it, came when her debut novel RING OF CLAY, won the New Writer’s Award. It went on to win the Society of Authors’ Sagittarius Prize, which gave her career a wonderful kickstart. Would you say you always wanted to be a writer, Margaret, or did it happen by chance.
Even as a child I fantasised about being a writer, but thought it an impossible dream for someone from my background. It was only much later in life that my horizons began to widen. I think I wanted to reach out to people. At the time I was teaching adults on an inner-city estate, and saw at first-hand how books brought much-need solace. A page-turning story can be a life-saver in difficult times, whether of illness or stress.
Can you work anywhere, or do you have a favourite place to hideaway and write?
I can only work in one place and that is my study. It is downstairs which is fortunate, as I tend to write in bits and pieces. I can't sit for long periods at my desk or I develop shoulder and neck problems. I'm a bit like a Jack-in-the box, popping back when a sudden phrase or 'inspiration' will hit me, and so although mornings are my best time, I also write at odd moments over the day. But never in the evenings, as my creativity has gone to sleep then!
How do you feel about producing a synopsis and does it come easy to you?
Do you enjoy revision, and what tip would you give to anyone who doesn't?
Strangely, yes I do rather enjoy it. I think it's because as I edit a chapter I can see the shape of it improving. I always read the edited work aloud afterwards which I feel is essential to reveal repetitions or occasional flatness. Also, perhaps to revise in short bursts rather than wait until the end of the book when it can seem an overwhelming task? I began my writing career with short stories for women's magazines, and their success not only gave me confidence but taught me valuable editing skills.
My latest novel, SONG FOR A BUTTERFLY has just been published as an e-book and LP and Audio editions will be released by Magna later this year.
I know you like to use the setting of the Potteries for your novels, but I believe your next book is different. Do tell us about it.
It is very different from my previous books, having no connection with the Potteries, and is set in the Edwardian era. I've had to do lots of research which I've not only enjoyed but found fascinating. I discovered for instance that in the early part of the twentieth century there was widespread belief that too much thinking caused a woman’s womb to wither. Incredible! There is a darkness at the centre of this novel but as with all of my books, the heroine does find the happiness she seeks. I'm afraid I am a true romantic and do believe in a happy ending .But I have finished it and it's now with my agents so this is quite an exciting time.
Do you feel that life is a song or a lament?
Mostly a song, I'm a half-cup full sort of person.
Writing is not a particularly healthy life-style, how do you keep fit?
Mea culpa here. I've never been inside a gym, and don’t walk enough since we lost our last dog. Am seriously considering getting another.
Apart from writing, of which accomplishment are you most proud?No hesitation here, it has to be my children and grandchildren.
Would you share with us your favourite recipe?
Readers often ask me about Staffordshire oatcakes which I mention in all of my books. Served in almost every home in Stoke-on-Trent on Sunday morning, warm and folded by the side of bacon and eggs or at tea-time spread with cheese and popped under the grill, they are absolutely delicious. One of my earliest memories is of the wonderful aroma of a family-run oatcake shop.
Staffordshire Oatcakes (makes approx 12 and they freeze well)
100g wholemeal flour
100g plain flour
225g fine oatmeal
1 tsp quick-action yeast
approx 1tbsp baking powder
12 tsp vegetable oil
Mix together the oatmeal, flour, yeast and salt in a bowl.
Make a well in the centre of mixture then very gradually add enough water using a wooden spoon to make a batter about the consistency of thick double cream.
Cover with a damp clean tea towel and set aside for 3-4 hours.
Once ready to cook, whisk in the baking powder until well combined.
Heat one tsp of oil in a heavy-based frying pan (if possible non-stick) over a medium heat then add enough batter as you would when frying a pancake and cook in the same way until golden brown on each side.
If re-heating to serve with a cooked breakfast, just pop them under the grill - but keep an eye on them, they should be warm and soft rather than hard and crisp.
Thank you so much for finding the time to talk to us today, Margaret, and I shall certainly try those oatcakes. We wish you every success for the future.
Song for a Butterfly Now available on Kindle, Apple, Sony, Nook
To find out more about Margaret and her books, call in at her website. http://www.margaretkaine.com
Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org