Margot, is so nice to meet you. How long have you been writing?
I have been writing foreverâ€”yet only with an eye to publication for about 20 years.
Tell us where you were born and where you live now.
I was born in Bendigo (a gold mining town) in Victoria, Australia, but I grew up in the tropics of Queensland. I married an American, and we came to live in Oregon USA with our three kids, many years ago.
Wow. How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
If an idea come to me in the dark of night, when I should be sleeping, it is usually worth sneaking into the bathroom for. There I keep a pad and pencil to make notes. If I donâ€™t make notes my ideas fade fast, and by morning have vanished.Â All my best plots were hatched this way.
Good for you. Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
I guess my writing took a serious turn way back in the early nineties, when I joined the CW list on Yahoo. Both the CW list and I were just beginning to pull our writing selves together. I fell in with a group of talented picture book writers (all well published now) who knew a lot more about plots, characters and story writing than myself. They took me under their wing and mentored me. Â I soon learned the wisdom of being in a critique group. This, and networking on other writing lists pushed me to become an SCBWI member. In those early days computers were a novelty, and self publishing was something unheard ofâ€”except for expensive Vanity presses. We all had to polish and fine tune our MS to fit the demands of traditional publishing houses.
Amen to that. What is the name of your Â Halloweeny book?
TheÂ Revenge of Thelma HillÂ is the title ( Halloween chills and thrills). But here is the secret of this story. As I wrote it the ghost became more and more familiar. Then it hit meâ€”I was channeling my dear mom.Â I knew Mom would have loved being a featured character in my book, so I thought, what the heckâ€”Iâ€™ll use her name in the title as well . . . Love you MomÂ J
How interesting. Tell us more about it. Perhaps a back cover blurb.
When Frannieâ€™s dad is transferred to Oregon, she worried about going to a new school and why she and her twin, Jeff, werenâ€™t really close.Â She often dreamed about her missing Mom, and wondered why Mom had never returned to them.Â A late night visit from a scary apparition, trailing long gray veils, and begging for Frannieâ€™s help, changed everything.
Twin Jeff was not a believer, and her dad also thought ghosts were rubbish. So Frannie and the ghost put their heads together and planned Revenge. A chilling encounter in the basement introduces Frannie to Adolpha, a gargantuan arachnid, and the ghostâ€™s familiar. Persuading Jeff to help track and trap Thelma Hillâ€™s killer was tricky, and using the internet to do this was dangerous. When a panicked and treacherous killer pays a midnight visit they spring their trap.Â Thelma Hill is buried in a proper cemetery, and after the killerâ€™s trial, she discovers that her dad also has a secret. Finally, as promised, Thelma Hill brings back news of Frannieâ€™s mom.
Is there a book trailer for your book?
This is a video of me reading fromÂ The Revenge of Thelma Hill
Very nice. Do you have a favorite character and why?
Adolpha, the giant arachnid is a favorite of mine. It may seem strange, but her actions (really bad ones) feel so very human.
What kind of impact do you expect your works to have in the reader’s lives?
For me, reading has always been a Magic Carpet Ride to fun, adventure, and world of curiosity. My goal is to HOOK kids on reading, so they too can enjoy a lifetime of reading pleasure. Â To this end I offer FREE Skype Author Visits to schools and libraries. Â My Magic Carpet of Books will fly anywhere!
As forÂ The Revenge of Thelma Hillâ€”sure, there is a ghost, a killer, and the final revenge, but the underlying theme is one of love, trust, and family loyalty that triumphs over everything. It plays out in the actions and reactions of the main characters, and how they come to understand that doing the right thing is its own reward.
Awesome…Do you have any advice for authors trying to break into the industry?
Study the basics first, and understand that like any career, you have to take the time to learn the craft of writing memorable books. Network among other knowledgeable Â writers, join a critique group for the genre you write, and read lots of books in that genre. Accept that it will take time, patience, and many many rewrites before you get a book accepted for publication.
Sound advice. What are your new yearâ€™s goals?Â
I amÂ publishing a picture book that is close to my heartâ€”hopefully in time for Christmas 2014. TitledÂ Dreamtime Man, it is a rhyming tale of how the Aussie aboriginals were badly treated after the white man arrived. The illustrations by Ioana Zdralea are wonderful, and almost completed.
Can’t wait to see it. Where can we find your book?
Amazon (Lindle and soft cover):Â http://tinyurl.com/bg9dtxt