Monday, July 5, 2010

A Saxon Tapestry

Margaret Blake lives in the North of England. She has published novels since l978 and likes to go on long walks and enjoy the company of good friends. Recently widowed, Margaret has one son, a beautiful daughter-in-law and three great grandkids. “As they live in Florida I get to visit, so although I do miss them, there is a tiny bonus in there too.”
Margaret, it’s great to have you over. Tell us what books came along at just the right time to influence your reading/writing?

When I was young I was inspired by the Bronte sisters. I was forever writing novels about young women wandering the moors. As the moors were not that far from Manchester, where I lived, it was easy to visit. I read and enjoyed lots of romantic novels, especially Mills and Boon, and many historical romantic writers like Jean Plaidy and Kathleen Woodiwiss. I learned an awful lot about history from Jean Plaidy.

How wonderful!
What are your writing goals?

I don’t really have any goals, I write because I love writing. Publishing my books is a wonderful bonus but even if I weren’t published I would still be writing. For a couple of months because of things in my life, I have been unable to write. It was like losing a limb. Fortunately I am now back in the saddle.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

I am not a “serious” writer, what I want my readers to do is to be entertained. Of course when I write my medieval romances, I hope they realize that King Richard the Third was not a monster and that King Harold of England, was a real hero!

I loved Richard III!
Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is set at the time when William the Conqueror stole England from its rightful king, Harold (see above). It tells the story of a young woman who has to resort to extraordinary means in order to keep her land. Also shown is the cruelty to the English people by William but that in spite of that, love will flower (but never for him!).

Do you think your writing has improved since your first attempt? If so, in what way?

I hope so! When you are writing you are forever learning new ways of expressing things. Writing styles have changed too – now there is much more showing rather than telling and it is important to pace your novels.

Were any of your books more challenging to write than the others? If so, why?

I decided to try my hand at romantic suspense. My first attempt was very well received Breaking the Clouds published by Robert Hale. I found I had to keep the suspense rolling and not reveal everything at once. Again, it is all to do with pace.

How do you develop characters? Setting?

Really my characters develop themselves. They live in my head and come to life on the page. Settings can be tricky. I have learned to use a certain area but change the names if I am writing medieval romance. I have used Florida , New Zealand and Australia, places I have visited, but I try to research very carefully if I am using a “real” place. Oddly I have written two books set in Spain and I have never been there. France is a country I know very well and have never set a novel there. Odd or what, but it’s just what comes in my head.

What are your protagonist’s strengths? Flaws?

Alfled in A Saxon Tapestry is very young and has been the adored daughter in a house of men. She tends to be hot headed and not consider consequences; this is her main flaw, her strength of character stems from her pride in her name and in her family. Rolf Le Blond is insecure in his claim to Alfled’s land but he is also always sure he is right. He has to learn the hard way that perhaps a native English person knows more than he does! In a way it is a strength and a flaw.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

I think being an only child and living in my imagination, helped to colour my writing. I spent lots of time on my own and so would write stories about having brothers and sisters. I lived in a very poor area in an industrial city but wrote longingly of the countryside and of horses and dogs. It was an ability to do that, I think, that made me able to step in and out of different periods.

How do you promote yourself online and off

I share a blog with three other Whiskey Creek writers Obviously, I belong to lots of writing groups. There are on occasions the opportunity for me to give a talk about writing, then there is Facebook and MySpace, all good places to let people know what is happening. Also the local newspaper is always very kind to me!

Then there are writers like yourself who are kind enough to interview me.

Where do you write? When? What do you have around you?

I use a little upstairs room; I have lots of books on shelves, my computer of course, cd’s. It faces on the street and sometimes when I am stuck for something to write, I glance out of the window and see what’s going on. That usually does the trick and I get back to what I should be doing, which is writing.

After hours of intense writing, how do you unwind?

I watch television. Usually I work in the afternoon so go and see the news, sometimes have a glass of wine while my dinner is cooking. Now and again I go out for dinner with a girlfriend, which is always nice, but generally I have to say that I find the television entertaining. I record lots of films and favourite shows, and these are what I generally watch rather than mainstream television. If I am really blue I put on a Frasier, guaranteed to cheer me up no end.

Any current projects?

Yes I am working on a straightforward romance and a romantic suspense. I actually have another book A Fatal Flaw in the works (no date yet) which is a romantic suspense set in Florida. I had a go at humour with this one, so hope that it works!

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

All the current news about my books and events can be seen on my website, and also I post regularly on Facebook.

Margaret, continued success. I keep sayin I'm going to visit Europe, and if I ever do, I'll look you up.
Thank you, Susan for this opportunity to visit with you. I have really enjoyed your challenging questions. I would also like to wish you all the very best.


margaret blake said...

Thanks, Susan for a lovely interview.

Yes,yes, please catch up with me if you get to Europe. I have to tell you that North Carolina is a place I long to visit.

jrlindermuth said...

I agree--a lovely interview with a variety of interesting questions.

Paula Martin said...

Great interview, Margaret. Especially your reasons for writing when you were a child, which very much mirror my own!


Anonymous said...

I loved A Saxon Tapestry and would highly recommend it to the readers of this blog!

Kathleen said...

Terrific interview and exciting that you have a book set in Florida in the works.

margaret blake said...

Thank you all for your generous comments. It's so nice when people take the time out of their busy schedule to stop by. You are all stars!

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Lovely interview, full of interesting insights. Always reassuring to know how much writers seem to have in common with each other, even when we write in different genres!

Beth Elliott said...

So many intersting points, Margaret. Thank you for sharing all the details of your writing formation and inspiration. I agree, I'd also write even if my stories did not get published - but it's wonderful when you see them in print.

margaret blake said...

Thanks for stopping by Catherine and Beth, it's always appreciated when people take a moment out of their busy lives to leave a comment.