Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Author Spotlight - Margaret James

In the Minxy spotlight today is historical author Margaret James, who is chatting to us today about her latest release, The Silver Locket, and its sequel, The Golden Chain, which releases in May.

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1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?

I was teaching creative writing for the London School of Journalism, writing regular columns and doing author profiles for Writing Magazine, working as an editorial consultant for a script doctoring service (, and somehow finding the time to finish a novel called The Penny Bangle for UK hardback publisher Robert Hale, which became my thirteenth published title.

2. Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?

The Silver Locket and its sequel The Golden Chain started life a long time ago on a family holiday in Dorset, which is where Thomas Hardy set many of his novels. We were driving past a beautiful honey-coloured mansion which was obviously empty and needed sympathetic restoration, and I wondered who had lived there a hundred years ago. Rose Courtenay, who became the heroine of The Silver Locket, walked into my head and said – I did! So write about me!

3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?

I once wrote a paranormal novel called Elegy for a Queen which was ahead of its time genre-wise and got some lovely rave rejections from mainstream publishers before it was finally published by Solidus, a small imprint in the UK. Paranormal is hugely popular nowadays, so I hope to have written and had published another paranormal romance, as well as another historical romance.

4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?

Oh, that’s easy – it’s One Day by David Nicholls, a romantic novel about two people who meet on their last day at university and agree to see each other on the same day every year until – well, I won’t give the story away! The hero and heroine of this novel, Dexter and Emma, became so real for me that as I read their story I could see them, I could hear them, and if they’d walked into the room where I was sitting reading I wouldn’t have been at all surprised.

5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?

When I was a teenager I was profoundly moved by Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and I thought how wonderful it must be to take your reader to a completely different world. I wanted to see if I could do it, too.

6. Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy – or neither?

I’m very happy to write love scenes, as long as I can do this in a way I feel is appropriate. I don’t like writing in graphic detail about sexual acts, but neither do I think it is fair to slam the bedroom door in my reader’s face. I always try to engage my reader’s emotional sympathy for my characters, rather than turn my reader on. I try not to make my love scenes read like lists of who did what – who undid whose buttons, who stroked whose hair back from whose forehead, and so on! I don’t like reading love scenes which sound more like instruction manuals for Martians, so I do my best not to write them.

7. What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?

When my first baby was born and my husband couldn’t stop smiling and hugging me, because he was so proud of me and delighted with the baby!

8. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?

What a long, hard struggle it was going to be to get published! Or maybe not – perhaps, if I’d known, I’d have given up and become a librarian instead. Maybe it’s best not to know about all the hard work that lies ahead after you’ve signed your first contract.

9. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

Choose your rut carefully, because you’ll be in it for a long time. My first novel was a historical romance, so I obviously chose the perfect rut for me.

10. Tell us about your latest release.

My novel The Silver Locket is a historical romance set during the First World War. My heroine Rose Courtenay is the spoiled, bored only child of wealthy parents, and Rose is expected to marry well. This means marrying the man her parents have chosen, but Rose falls in love with Alex Denham, the local bad boy, who is also a married man. When war breaks out, Rose goes to London to become a nurse, and later she is sent to France, where she meets Alex again and they begin an affair which has huge repercussions – enough for two more novels, in fact.

11. What’s next for you?

The sequel to The Silver Locket is The Golden Chain, which is published in May. I’m also working on several other projects, including a romantic comedy set in the present day, and a paranormal romance set in the 1950s. I’ve done a little ghost writing, which was great fun, and I’d like to do more. So I’d love to hear from someone who has a great story to tell and would like me to help them tell it.

You can find out morfe about Margaret and her books at her blog and her website.

Her books are available at:
The Silver Locket: Amazon and Amazon UK
The Golden Chain: Amazon UK


Chris Stovell said...

That's a great interview with our Minxy Margaret (go on, ask her what she did with the White Van Man!). I'm really looking fowards to reading 'The Golden Chain'. The only answer I wasn't nodding along with her with was about 'One Day'! I'm afraid I couldn't get on with Dexter or Emma at all!

Rachel Lyndhurst said...

Great interview, Margaret and gorgeous sounding books! The romantic comedy sounds intriguing too - I look forward to hearing about that one very much.

Sally Clements said...

I love those covers, Margaret! and your books sound really intriguing! Thanks so much for going minxy for the day.

Kath said...

Great interview. This made for a really interesting read & lovely to hear about where The Silver Locket started. And I've now discovered that you wrote Elegy for a Queen, one of the time-slip books on my wish-list. I hadn't connected the author of that as being the same Margaret James I knew!

Anonymous said...

Great interview! It is so nice to hear about how Margaret has got to where she is today.

So, come on, Margaret.....the white van man.... ;-)


Kat said...

Thanks for being a fabulous minx today Margaret!
Your 'choose your rut carefully' advice has really struck a chord with me, because I'm currently hopping between two ruts and trying to decide where I need to settle. It's not easy!
Oh, I loved Dexter and Emma's story too! It was such a clever premise for a book wasn't it? He painted them so vividly, I really enjoyed his style of writing.
Lots of luck with The Silver Locket & The Golden Chain!

Kat said...

Note to self - go easy on the exclamation marks!!!

Margaret James said...

Thank your for your comments, ladies! White van man eventually escaped from his shackles and disappeared into the night, boo hiss...

Jane Lovering said...

I've read Elegy for a Queen and I can vouch for its genre-busting qualities! (It's a great novel too...) Looking forward to the next five years of your writing, Margaret, may they go smoothly and be full of ideas!

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

Thanks for visiting, Margaret, looking forward to reading your books.


Christina Courtenay said...

Great interview, Margaret! And please, please write another novel like "Elegy for a Queen", I absolutely loved that! Not that I don't love all your novels, but time slips are my favourites by far. Can't wait!