In my online travels, I’ve met some interesting and intriguing people. I want to introduce you to a fellow author, Maggie James. Maggie is a British author who lives in Bristol, UK. She writes psychological suspense novels.
Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practicing as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practicing yoga or travelling, Maggie can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love!
I had a chance to ask Maggie a few questions so that you could get to know her.
Are any of your fiction novels based on true events? How do you come up with the ideas for your novels?
Only my second novel, Sister, Psychopath, is based on actual events. I attended a writing workshop in which the tutor told us about a woman who became fixated on one of her colleagues. The man wasn’t interested in her, being happily married with a young family. The woman decided the only way they could be together would be if she murdered his wife and child. Sadly, that’s what happened; her daughter became suspicious, however, and alerted the police. I was intrigued by how the emotions both women must have experienced and originally intended to centre the book around this premise. Eventually, I took the plot of Sister Psychopath down a different route, concentrating instead on the relationship between Megan and her half-sister Chloe. However, I based the character of Tilly, their mother, on the real-life murderer.
As for how I come up with the ideas for my novels, inspiration can hit anytime and anywhere. That’s why, like most writers, I always carry with me a way of capturing ideas when they strike – in my case, a notepad and pen. A great source of ideas can be television documentaries, especially those concerned with psychological issues. The idea for examining obsessive hoarding in my novella Blackwater Lake came after watching a TV programme on the subject. Unless you suffer from a particular compulsion, it’s hard to understand what drives it. As the people in the documentary related their stories, often tragic ones, it became easier for me to comprehend why they hoarded. The subject fascinated me, so I decided to write about it.
When & how did you get started writing?
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to be a novelist. As a child I wrote several short stories, one of which was published and another won a prize. When I became an adult it all petered out, however; I lacked the confidence to tackle a novel and persuaded myself I didn’t have enough life experience either. I continue procrastinating until my forties, when I started writing fanfiction and publishing it online. My stories received great feedback, which gave me encouragement to continue, and my fiction became longer and longer. Eventually I decided I was ready to write a novel. At the time I had a milestone birthday approaching – my fiftieth – so I decided to complete my first novel before that date. I’m proud to say I achieved my goal, finishing the first draft of His Kidnapper’s Shoes in February 2011.
I like your tag line “Exploring the shadows of the mind.” Tell me more about how you settled on this niche of writing.
It was after I wrote my first novel, His Kidnapper’s Shoes, that I decided it fitted the psychological suspense genre. The idea came first, slotting it into an appropriate niche came second. I’m fascinated by the workings of the human mind, so it makes sense for me to explore this in my writing, particularly issues that are hard for me to understand, such as Stockholm syndrome and compulsive hoarding.
Tell me more about how you balance writing with your love of travel and healthy living.
I’m currently trying to find a balance between writing and travelling – my aim is to travel the world with my laptop, writing my novels as I go. At the moment that isn’t possible, but I hope to become a nomadic novelist in 2016. As for balancing writing with healthy living, that’s a tricky one – being a novelist necessitates long hours at a computer, which isn’t healthy for the body. I go to the gym six days a week, however, and attend several yoga classes as well. I also have software on my computer that reminds me to take a break at regular intervals. Otherwise, left to my own devices, I sometimes get so caught up in what I’m doing that I forget to do other things, including eating!
I want to know what inspires you.
I’m always motivated by ambitious, go-getting people, such as Richard Branson. Stephen King is a particular inspiration, both for the quality of his writing and his sheer productivity. As for personal goals, I’m inspired by the idea of exploring as much of the world as possible. I’ve already travelled widely, but I’m conscious of all there is yet to do.
I was also inspired by a recent television programme about centenarians who live life to the full. I’ve met so many people who consider that life plummets downhill after a certain age, a self-fulfilling prophecy if ever there was one. To hear about people who are taking gliding lessons and doing yoga at the age of 100+ is very inspiring. I fully intend to be one of their number!
What do you know now or that you have learned recently that you wish you knew earlier in life?
I’ve always known that sometimes people can be unsupportive and even critical of the decisions others make. The fact has been emphasised, however, since I became a novelist. Most people have been supportive of my new career, but one or two people haven’t; either they’ve ignored it or else chosen to patronise me about it. Sad, but their reactions have been outweighed by everyone who has been a great help and responded very positively.
What advice would you give to fans of a fiction author?
If you enjoy an author’s work, be as supportive as you can – post on Twitter and Facebook about their books and help spread the word. The main thing that fans can do is to post reviews, especially on Amazon and Good reads. Only a few people bother, but it really makes a difference and is much appreciated by authors.
Are you working on anything that you would love the world to know about?
I recently published Blackwater Lake, so I’m taking a mini break before plotting my next novel. I’m intending to write this as part of the NaNoWriMo November competition, in which entrants complete 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November. I’m considering delving into the theme of obsession.
How would you like my readers to connect with you online?
I’m active on social media, and I also blog regularly on all topics of interest to fiction readers. I also offer a copy of His Kidnapper’s Shoes to anyone who signs up for my newsletter. Details are on my website. Here are my links:
Website and blog: http://www.maggiejamesfiction.com
Google+ : https://plus.google.com/101511690389687930651
His Kidnapper’s Shoes: http://smarturl.it/hiskidnappersshoes
Sister, Psychopath: http://smarturl.it/sisterpsychopath
Guilty Innocence: http://smarturl.it/guiltyinnocence
The Second Captive: http://smarturl.it/thesecondcaptive
Blackwater Lake: http://smarturl.it/blackwaterlake
Shadows of the Mind Box Set 1: http://smarturl.it/SOTM1
Write Your Novel! From Getting Started to First Draft http://smarturl.it/writeyournovel
Be sure to check out Maggie’s books and leave a comment here to encourage this thrilling author.