Margaret Moundson is a short story writer and novelist and long time member of the RNA. Welcome to the blog Margaret. Do tell us how you got started as a writer.
To Plot Or Not To Plot? How Much Of A Planner Are You?
I plot, then I change it around and shuffle bits all over the place, then cut, then shuffle again. I am a poor example of how not to plot but it all comes together in the end. I plan but in my own way.
Where is Your Favourite Place To Work?
I work upstairs in a spare room which I have made into a den. About a year ago we had new windows put in so even on a cold day it's quite cosy.
Do You Write Every Day? What Is Your Work Schedule?
I work every day if I can or do something writing related like this interview. As there is only my husband and myself at home and we are both retired it is not too difficult to find the time. I don't have a set writing schedule as such because we do go out and about. I treat those occasions as research, but during the cold weather, for example, when we were stuck indoors, I can write all the time, seven days a week. I love it. Luckily my husband has his own interests.
How Do You Develop Your Characters?
I make them into believable human beings. Even the most saintly of us has a downside. The good guys have a guilty secret and I give the bad ones a redeeming quality. I cut pictures from magazines then I do a biog. I always give them a star sign. Gradually they turn into people I love - sometimes even the bad guys when I've worked out what motivates them.
What Is The Hardest Part Of The Writing Process For You?
The first draft. Every time I sit down I make myself do at least a thousand words because at least it's something I can tweak even if it's sub standard. You can't do anything with a blank page.
How Do You Promote Your Books?
My website, which is about to be updated. I blog and twitter. I use bookmarks and postcards. I tell writing friends and the details are published on romna.
Do You Have Interests Other Than Writing?
I practise yoga and I can sit in lotus. I love entertaining and last year for our twenty fifth wedding anniversary we gave a garden party. It was huge fun because we had a lovely sunny day when down the road they had a thunderstorm. I also love travelling, a legacy from my customer relation days at Gatwick Airport. These days we mainly do Europe. I like looking at art. Bruges, Paris and Italy are wonderful places to explore.
What Advice Would You Give A New Writer?
Never give up - see above answer to question 1. Believe in yourself. Be professional right from the start. If you don't know how to set out a manuscript go on courses. Subscribe to writers' magazines. Network. Go to the RNA conference. Talk to people. Writers are incredibly generous people. They give of their time. Jilly Cooper was once so thrilled when I babbled away about my attempts to get published. Penny Vincenzi too. Neither of them discouraged me at all or made me feel inferior.
Tell Us About Your Latest Book And How You Got The Idea For It?
Can You Tell Us Something Of Your Work In Progress?
It's a romance set in Tuscany. Very much in the planning stages at the moment.
One final question, do you find it easy to switch from writing short stories to novels, and how would you say the skills differ?
I don't find it difficult to switch from short stories to a novel. I actually like the change because I feel it exercises different parts of my writing brain. The skills differ because a short story can be a moment in time, whereas a novel can span a generation or longer. In a short story you have to be concise because you have to use a certain number of words to get your story across. In a novel you can write at a different pace because although the story is of equal importance the stress on the number of words used in any particular scene can be your decision.
Thank you Margaret for a very interesting interview. You can find out more about Margaret and her books:
Interviews on the RNA Blog are conducted by Freda Lightfoot and Kate Jackson. If you would like an interview, please contact me at: mailto:email@example.com