Today I'm delighted to welcome Marie Maxwell a.k.a Bernardine Kennedy to my blog to chat about her latest book Gracie which I recently reviewed, you can read my review here.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book Gracie?
Gracie is set in the 1950s and is about a young woman who grabs at the chance to draw a line under the mistakes she made in her past and move on with her life. The book starts with Gracie accepting a marriage proposal from Sean who she’s known for a long time. She’s so thrilled to be a step nearer her dream of a family life she jumps in with both feet and doesn’t listen to all the advice she’s given about thinking first and not keeping secrets from her fiancé! Gracie has a traumatic time over the course of the book as her life unravels………….
What inspired you to write a saga series set in the 1950s and 1960s?
I was actually asked to write it after a bit of a brainstorming session with an editor. At first I didn’t think I could as it was away from my usual genre but I gave it a go and then got into the swing of it. I enjoyed the research, especially as it was local and I found out lots of things about the area that I’d previously had no idea about. However research is very time consuming so I’m looking forward to the next one, Maggie, set in the sixties which I can well remember.
Which comes first, the characters or the plot?
I usually have an idea for a storyline and then I build the characters around it although both the plot and the characters evolve as the book goes along. I never really know how it’s going to end…
Are you able to give us a hint as to what your next novel is about?
The next one in this series is MAGGIE, the story of RUBY’s daughter and is set in the sixties. For anyone who has read RUBY or GRACIE I think MAGGIE was destined to be a wild child with issues! I also have a Bernardine Kennedy book under construction which is in the BK genre.
You’ve also published books under your real name Bernardine Kennedy, why the change of name for this series?
Because of the change of genre. Sagas are naturally more gentle and slow paced than the books I write as Bernardine Kennedy so it avoided confusion. Two different names, two different genres.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
Because I was brought up abroad I always used to read a lot as well as writing long, descriptive letters to friends and family. It was a good background to composition. I learnt how to turn everyday events into convoluted incidents to keep everyone amused! I didn’t know it but with hindsight it was probably inevitable I would become a writer. Also my dad was an avid book reader and introduced me to Agatha Christie and Ian Fleming when I was very young so I was well read before I was even in my teens.
Have you ever had writer’s block?
I don’t have writer’s block as such because I usually know where I’m going next with the story but I often have that ‘I really don’t want to do this today’ feeling and that’s really hard to overcome. I have to force myself to sit down, turn off Facebook and Twitter and get to it. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t! I’m also too easily persuaded out to lunch.
If you weren’t a writer, what career path would you have chosen to follow?
I think I’ve covered most career paths over the years. Air Hostess, Teacher ( of English and Creative Writing in a prison) Social Worker, Travel Writer….. and that’s just the important ones. Jill of all Trades me. In the sixties I always wanted to be Marianne Faithful…??
Being a writer appears to be such a solitary lifestyle, especially when you’re in the midst of writing, so do you consider the influence of social Media, Facebook and Twitter, a blessing or a hinderance?
I love Social Media but it such a time-stealer so it can be a hindrance but at the same time it’s fabulous to be able to get book news out there so easily. Swings and roundabouts and moderation!
How long did it take you to get your first book published?
It was very quick. My first book went off to an agent, he signed me almost immediately and the book (Everything Is Not Enough) sold straight away. Very unusual I know… a bit of luck and a lot of ‘right time right place’.
Do you have a set daily writing routine?
In my head I do but in reality I am inclined to take each day as it comes. I’m easily distracted. I do however try and get at least a few words written every day regardless of where I am, what I’m doing or how I’m feeling. I need to keep my head in the story.
Would you say that any of your characters are like you? If so, which one(s)?
I don’t think so.
If you could write another style of genre, what would it be and why?
I’d love to do a really complicated and gory murder mystery but I’m not sure about the research. That really has to be so accurate, I envy Kathy Reichs and Peter James their ability to study and write detail. Or a great big doorstop of a romping blockbuster a la Jackie Collins….
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Read and write as often and as much as you can and don’t show your work to friends and family. They cannot be constructive!
Do you prefer to read physical copies of books or e-books?
I like both now. I was a late convert to eBooks because I couldn’t imagine how I could possibly get along with an eReader… it seems such an alien concept compared to the paper books I’ve loved all my life but s couple of holidays with a loaded Kindle in my handbag as opposed to a suitcase of books have taught me otherwise. There’s room for both in my life!
Are there any books you’ve read that you wish you’d written?
Probably 50 Shades of Grey because of the surprise of its success. Who knew?? Not that I can write erotica but the thought of how it all happened for the author is mind-blowing and envy-inducing!
When you’ve finished writing a book, do you treat yourself to a reward?
I usually treat myself when I get a payment through…. I have something to acknowledge each book. Ruby got me an iPad and Gracie contributed towards a cruise last month! I don’t only buy things for me, I bought my husband a Brompton bike from my first advance in 1999 and he still uses it most days!
Where would be your idyllic location for a writing retreat?
Definitely somewhere tropical, Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands? (my favourite place in the world) Barbados? All by myself but I must have WiFi. I couldn’t do too long without email and Facebook!
If you were going to be stuck on a desert island and could only take 3 books with you, which ones would you choose?
Probably three books I’ve never got into but thought I ought to. Books that I found heavy going and maybe too intellectual, (I’ve never been a literary reader) But I won’t name them because that sounds critical!
Can you describe Gracie in 20 words or less?
GRACIE has a quick brain and is enthusiastic about life, her weakness is her vision of the perfect family.
If you'd like to know more about Marie/Bernardine and her books, why not visit her website, blog, Facebook page or follow her on Twitter.