Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Interview with Mandy Baggot

A very warm welcome to Wiltshire based author, Mandy Baggot, who has been writing romantic stories since her school days. Music plays a big part in Mandy’s life, she sings with vocal group, Raise the Roof and in a duo, Hard Drive. Her latest novel, Taking Charge was recently published by US based Sapphire Star Publishing.

Mandy, tell us something of your journey as a writer. Has it been long and hard, or short and exciting?

It’s actually somewhere in the middle! Having written as a teenager I got back into writing after the birth of my first daughter in 2005. I penned my first novel Excess All Areas in between feeding, changing and naps (my daughter not me!) and submitted to one of the biggest publishers in the UK, Headline. They really liked the novel but not enough to take it on. Back then I was a little big fragile (yes really!) and I put the novel in a drawer! Then in 2008 I heard about Youwriteon.com and their Arts Council supported scheme to get writers into the marketplace. They published the book and I haven’t looked back. I’ve published four novels in conjunction with Youwriteon/Feed A Read but in January this year I signed a contract with US publisher Sapphire Star Publishing for my next novel Taking Charge.
Romantic fiction is a wide genre, which sub-genre would you say your books slot into?

I always use the term ‘contemporary romance’ because my books are all modern day and the main theme is the romantic connection between the two lead characters. However, there is also humour, drama, action, family issues, you name it it’s probably there somewhere in my book. I also use the term ‘chick-lit’. Some people don’t like it, I just see it as standing for popular women’s fiction and I’m more than happy to be associated with that!

What inspired you to write your latest book TAKING CHARGE?

A volcano would you believe! My dad and step-mum moved to Portage, Michigan back in 2000 and in 2010 we went to visit them for the first time since they moved there. We’d stayed for ten nights and were on our long drive back to the airport when my husband got a text from his mum asking if our flight was still going to go because of the volcano in Iceland. Well, a few phone calls and some Google visits later, we turned the car around and headed back. We ended up staying for a total of twenty one nights! Apart from the inconvenience and missing work etc. it was a joy to stay there even longer. It made us feel like we were part of the community and not just holidaymakers. Robyn and Cole’s story grew from my time spent in Portage, the people there, the slower pace of life, the different priorities they have, the old-fashioned, traditional values they still uphold – obviously the roadhouses and the ice hockey. We can’t wait to go back!

Are you inspired by music when creating your fictional world?

Yes! Both Strings Attached and Taking Charge have suggested playlists at the front of the books. These are filled with songs that set the scene for the novel. With Taking Charge there is a country/rock vibe going on – songs from Tammy Wynette to ZZ Top and everything in between. Readers really enjoy these added extras and I’ve had several compliments about it at book signings. It helps readers with mood setting and also lets them feel they’re getting to know the ‘likes’ of the characters.

Do you ever find yourself writing in odd places, like the bath?

I don’t think I’ve ever written in an odd place! I tend to have a notepad to hand wherever I am but not done it in the bath before!

Do you find it easy to keep faith in yourself, or do you have any tricks to boost your own morale.

I am the most determined person I know! I’ve been through quite a few battles in my relatively young life and I’m not one of those people who thinks ‘poor me’. I’m the person who shrugs her shoulders and just keeps going. Hard work and determination are the only two things that are going to help you reach your dreams. Some people believe in luck – I think you should make your own luck and then Tweet about it!
Do you edit and revise as you write, or after you have completed the first draft? What method works best for you?

It’s actually a bit of both. I tend to re-read the last chapter I’ve written to get back into the characters’ heads when I start again the following day, but that’s all until the first draft is finished. Then I leave the manuscript alone for a few weeks before I go back through it again. It takes me three edits usually before it’s polished enough to do anything with.

How did you hear about the RNA, and how has it benefited your career?

I’ve known about the RNA since I started writing seriously. I’ve met lots of author friends who are members and they’ve all told me it’s a great group to belong to. I attended my first conference last year and it was an amazing experience. By the time I had gone to all the brilliant talks and workshops I was completely exhausted but it was so nice to be in the company of all those like-minded romance writers! I’m a new member so I don’t think I’ve given it a chance to benefit my career just yet, but what I do know is when you tell people you’re a member it seems to be like a rubber stamp, a seal of approval to your romance writing!

Can you tell us something of what you are working on now?

I can! I’m working on a new novel at the moment entitled ‘Security’. This is a story about pop princess Autumn Raine and her newly appointed bodyguard Nathan Regan. Autumn’s mother also happens to be a high ranking politician and she’s been receiving threats saying that someone is going to kidnap her daughter before the International Music Awards. It is a romance novel but there is quite a lot of action and intrigue and you never really know who’s telling the truth. The tagline is going to be ‘Who do you trust?’

 Thank you for talking to us Mandy. Your determination to succeed has paid off and we wish you every success with ‘Taking Charge’.
Best wishes, Kate.

To find out more about Mandy and her work, visit her website at http://mandybaggot.webs.com/ 
Follow her on Twitter @mandybaggot and on Facebook.


Rachel Lyndhurst said...

Great Interview, Mandy!

I never knew about the volcano thing, and now I'm done with revisions I'm getting right back into Taking Charge. Loving it so far!

Hopefully I'll get to buy you a celebratory drink soon! xx

Janice Horton said...

Hi Mandy - what a super interview - I particulary loved your comment "Some people believe in luck – I think you should make your own luck and then Tweet about it!" - what a gem!

I have Taking Charge on my Kindle and it's text up to read - I can't wait - and LOVE the sound of your WIP.

Welcome to the RNA!

Janice xx

Sheryl said...

And make your own luck you do, Mandy. I've never known anyone work quite so hard - and make time to support others while she's doing it! Funnily enough, I was reading one of yours - Breaking the Ice - while on the train down to the RNA Summer bash! Love it! Good well-earned luck, Mandy! :) x

Linn B Halton said...

Your determination shines through Mandy and I know how hard you have worked this last few years. To see that now paying off is truly wonderful - you deserve every bit of the success you have!

Mandy said...

Thank you so much for all your lovely comments! I really appreciate all your support! *wipes tear from eye*

Susan Bergen said...

I hope you are planning to come to the Conference again, this year, Mandy, so I can come and say hello.

Jan Brigden said...

Ooh, my last comment vanished on me so hopefully I won't pop up twice! Great interview, Mandy. So inspiring. Congratulations for sticking in there and for reaping the success you so clearly deserve.

Best of luck with 'Security'. There's a book I shall definitely look forward to reading :)

Jan x

Harriet Grace said...

Well done Mandy... you've never given up and have been really prolific. Good luck with the new novel. Harriet x

Melanie said...

Well done, Lady Baggot! So thrilled for you. You're determined to excel in the publishing world and I'm rooting for you. I've read one of your novels and have others on my iPad waiting in the wings patiently(?) for their turn to be read.

Carrie Butler said...

It was great getting to know you a little better, Mandy! :)

Chris Longmuir said...

Inspirational, you deserve your success, Mandy.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading Knowing Me Knowing You and look forward to reading your other books, Mandy. Well done!

Chris Stovell said...

You sing too? Respect! What a busy lady!

Victoria Lamb said...

Well done, Mandy, great interview. You certainly do push through when you meet blocks and are very resilient. More power to you, that's what I say. Vx