My second post of the day is, of course, a Meet the Author interview! Today we’ve got a fab, in-depth interview with Maggie Christensen talking about the inspiration behind her books, love at first sight, why she writes about older women, her most recent book, The Life She Finds and more….
Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I grew up in Scotland and began teaching primary school there, before emigrating to Australia in my mid-twenties. I was lured by ads of a semi-naked man in gown and mortarboard and the slogan ‘Come teach in the Sun’. I’m still looking for that guy!
I’m now retired and live with my husband on the beautiful Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia, close to two wonderful beaches. I have three stepchildren and seven grandchildren.
My writing journey all began over 30 years ago when I was working in Higher Education, but back then I was writing non-fiction consisting of conference papers and course materials.
Fast forward around ten years, when I was close to retirement and had started to write fiction. I was working as Manager in an Education Unit in a Health Service and with a stateside restructure in the offing, I decided to write the fiction I’d always wanted to write. I began to write The Sand Dollar in which my heroine, Jenny, is facing a redundancy and, on the strength of finding a sand dollar, takes a trip to Oregon to visit her godmother. That became my second published book, and the beginning of my first series.
My books usually begin by placing my heroine in a challenging situation and the rest of the books takes it from there. I start with a heroine and a situation, then a man appears in her life.
I write about older women because I believe that older women and the events which impact on their lives are often ignored in literature. Life for older women presents similar and different challenges to their younger counterparts. They still look for a Happy Ever After, but theirs may include stepchildren – even teenage stepchildren – and ex partners with their attendant issues.
My books also allow me to explore those issues which only emerge with years. Issues such as aging and death of parents, retrenchment, retirement, downsizing, grown children, grandchildren, widowhood and the empty nest syndrome.
I write about real people, women readers might become friends with, and I like to reintroduce characters in future books so that my readers feel they’re meeting old friends again.
What inspired you to start writing and where do you get your ideas?
I get my ideas everywhere – things I see, hear or read about often sparks an idea. To give you some examples.
Band of Gold, the first book I published begins with Anna’s husband placing his wedding ring on the kitchen table on Christmas morning and saying “I don’t want to be married any more.” This came about from two things I heard about – one where the husband did this on Christmas morning, the other where he said those words. I started to wonder what would happen then and decided Anna would have the family coming to Christmas dinner, and she’d have to cope with that. I also gave her aging parents and a daughter in the throes of her first love. The book follows her journey over the next 18 months. It’s written in the first person present-tense, so the reader can step into Anna’s shoes.
The inspiration for a book which I set on the Sunshine Coast – Champagne for Breakfast, came one Sunday morning when my husband and I were walking along the river in Noosa. We saw a woman sitting on her own with what looked like an empty wine bottle. I knew there had to be a story there. I remembered that, in The Sand Dollar, my protagonist, Jenny, had a friend called Rosa who worked with her in the health service and had finished a long-term relationship with her boss. That woman became Rosa, and the book became her story – a woman who is sitting on Gympie Terrace drinking champagne, alone, on her fiftieth birthday’.
The Good Sister is my aunt’s story. When I was growing up, we lived with my aunt and grandparents. She often told me – and my friends – the story of her romance during and after the war. When I started writing, I knew I had to write her story. I didn’t know how I’d do it. Then, after a few false starts, the idea for The Good Sister came to me – a dual time frame story set in the 1930’s and present day. It was a difficult one to write – so much so that I vowed never to write another historical novel!
With my current series, I first made the decision to set a series in rural Australia. I have lived in two small country towns. So, I decided my series would be set in a fictional town in New South Wales, somewhere within reach of Canberra. But I needed a name for it.
Then, on a trip to the northern part of Queensland, we drove past a property – the name on the gate was Granite Springs. I immediately decided that would be the name for my fictional country town.
I’ve always loved writing and I love books.
How many books have you written and published?
I have written 17 books. 15 are already published, one The Life She Imagines – is currently on pre-order to be published in August and another – A Granite Springs Christmas– will be published in October/November. I am currently writing no 18 and no 7 in the Granite Springs series, The Life She Creates
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
I started out as a primary teacher then, after emigrating to Australia moved into lecturing in teacher education. Following that I worked as a Learning and Development manager in a Health service providing non-clinical training to all staff. While there I also helped set up and chaired a Registered Training Organisation for the state health service to provide qualifications to staff who had none. After leaving there, I held a couple of management positions in colleges of complementary medicine, before retiring.
Other than writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
I love to read. It’s my idea of bliss to be surrounded by books every day – which I am, either writing or reading them. I also enjoy walking along the local river or beach with my husband and having coffee in one of our favourite cafés.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Absolutely! I was in teaching in Higher Education and took a forced transfer to teach in a country town university in a town called Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. I didn’t want to go the country. I wanted to get back to the city – to the bright lights of Sydney. However to Wagga Wagga I went and there, to my surprise I met this hunk of a gentle giant who’d moved there from USA to teach in the same faculty as me. At the ripe old age of 37, I’d almost – but not quite – given up hope of meeting my soulmate. Here he was.
What is something you can’t live without?
Do you feel it’s more important to have a) strong characters b) a mind-blowing plot or c) amazing settings?
I think all are important but without strong characters readers can relate to, it would be difficult to hold their interest. My books are character driven.
What is your favourite genre to read and why?
Women’s fiction. I enjoy reading about people I can relate to.
What is your favourite time to write, and why?
I write best in the morning when I’m fresh. It also means that I can get ahead in my daily word count goal and enjoy the rest of the day. It also means that if I don’t make my goal in the morning, I have the rest of the day to catch up.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
My latest book is The Life She Finds. It’s book 4 in my Granite Springs series set in a small Australian country town. Although it’s part of a series, like the others, it can be read as a standalone and, like the others it’s a heartwarming story of second chances.
When Lyn Hudson takes early retirement, her plan is to fulfil a lifelong dream to travel the world. But news of her father’s death forces her back to Granite Springs; the town she fled when she was eighteen. While she has fond memories of roaming the paddocks with her childhood friend, Ken, life on the land was definitely not for her.
Ken Thompson, cheated out of his inheritance in the family property after an argument with his father, has built up a successful business in Granite Springs as a realter and stock and station agent. When the son he intended to inherit his business returns to work on the family property, his plans for the future are shattered and family relations further strained.
Thrown together by circumstances, the pair discover the spark which they denied forty-five years earlier is still smouldering. But time has passed. They are different people.
Is it possible they’ll find common ground and start afresh, or will Lyn once again follow her dreams and abandon Granite Springs and their chance at happiness?
Buy link: getbook.at/TheLifeSheFinds
final words from me…
Thank you so much Maggie for coming over to Curled Up With A Good Book and talking to us. This is a fantastic interview and it’s lovely to learn so much about you. The inspiration behind some of your stories I found really interesting, it;’s great to see where authors ideas come from! The story of meeting your Husband made me smile ~ I’m so glad you got your happy ever after. I also think it’s wonderful that you write about older women; I agree that this age range isn’t always covered in literature and there are many challenging things that’s time brings with it. I’ll definitely be checking out your books in the future, especially now we know some of the inspiration. The Good Sister sounds like it would be one of my faves!
If you have any questions or comments for Maggie then you know what to do!
I’ll be back soon with my final post.