JJ is delighted to be welcoming Maggie today.
A free range child, I grew up on an island In Canada’s Pacific Northwest. I spent my formative years constructing alternate universes, flying under the radar and wishing for 20/20 vision.
I set out to see the world shortly after my 17th birthday. Eventually I met and fell in love with a wild colonial boy. After five years of futile resistance, I moved to Melbourne, Australia and married him. In 2007, my husband and I made Canada our permanent home. We now live in a leafy suburb on that island where I grew up and neither of us wishes to be anywhere else.
While living Down Under, I started writing fiction and explored the outback. Some of my adult short stories appear in different anthologies in the US, Canada, and Australia. I have had poetry published in Quills Canadian Poetry magazine. My debut novel Lockdown (YA) was published in 2014 by Great Plains Teen Fiction (Winnipeg, Canada). Outback Promise is being released by HarperCollins Australia in November 2015.
Welcome to JJ!
Please summarise Outback Promise in 20 words or less.
Sometimes, before you can find yourself, you must lose yourself in the desert.
If you could choose to be one of your characters in your novel which would you be? and why?
Shelly Tremaine. She’s feisty, funny and very smart. At an early age she figured out what she wanted from life. She’s her own woman, untroubled by the opinions of others.
What scene did you find the hardest to write Maggie?
The scene where four-year-old Cadel dies was emotionally wrenching to write. Putting myself into Ros’s skin and feeling her devastating loss was an enormous challenge. Then I had to revisit the scene several times after speaking to emergency responders about the technical aspects of accidents and triage.
How do your characters come into existence? Do they have a bio?
My characters appear like old Polaroid photos, vague shadows that sharpen over time. I collect magazine and newspaper pictures of people who look like them and paste them into my notebook or save them on my hard drive. I also compile long lists of their physical characteristics, life stories, and likes and dislikes. For Outback Promise, I wrote a 22,000 word prequel of Ros’s life up until the day Cadel dies.
Panster or a plotter?
I’m a hybrid. I usually start with an idea of where I’m going but I’m not locked into a strict order of events. A large part of the joy of writing is discovering a new angle or twist in a plot and exploring it, like a tributary on a river that didn’t show on the original map (oh I like that analogy Maggie).
Have you joined any writing groups?
Yes! Writing groups are an important way to break the isolation of writing. It was through a writing group in Australia that I met the amazing Alyssa Brugman. My North Vancouver writing group helped me identify the YA beta readers for my novel Lockdown. They also came out in large numbers to support me at my first book launch. My North Vancouver critique group was invaluable with their input on Outback Promise. Now I belong to the Vancouver Island Romance Writers because they have excellent presenters and it is a tight, well run group.
Have you done any writing courses Maggie? Any that you would recommend to others?
It would be hard to go past Sarah Selecky’s Story State of Mind. It’s one of the most extensive, detailed writing courses I’ve taken. Bonus: it’s available online. Plus it’s endorsed by Margaret Atwood – hard to get higher praise than that!
Finally, are there any tips you could share with new writers that have worked well for you?
Read. Read. Read. Then write, write, write, even when you don’t want to. Sometimes the best discoveries pop out when you’re in the pit, shovelling dirt. If you’re blocked, pick a piece of literature you admire. Copy type it and let someone else’s gift flow through your fingers, like a pianist warming up with Beethoven.
Thank you for being my guest today Maggie.
Wishing you success with all your writing projects.
Outback Promise publishes 1st November 2015.
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 860 KB
Print Length: 203 pages
Publisher: AUS Impulse (1 Nov. 2015)
Can Ros and Grady move on from the past, or will their pain drive them apart?
Six years ago, the Balfours lost their son Cadel to a hit-and-run driver. A few months ago, Ros discovered Grady’s affair. With their marriage fast disintegrating, they decide to take a three-month camping trip into the heart of Australia to try and mend deep wounds and rekindle the fire that once fused them close. This trip will decide the fate of their relationship: do they have enough strength and enough love left to accept what life has put them both through? But trust and forgiveness don’t come easily, and Ros and Grady have to navigate not only the wilderness of the Outback and the challenges of other travellers, but also the chasm of grief and bitterness they have sunk into over the last six years.
Their only hope for survival lies in facing the secrets they have both tried to keep buried …
Available to Pre-Order: