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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Interview with Margaret Tanner, Historical Romance Author

I'd like to introduce historical romance author Margaret Tanner. Many of Margaret's books are set in her native Australia. Welcome Margaret, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed.

Margaret Tanner Thanks for having me here Sue.

Sue: What is your favorite reading genre and is this also the genre you write in?

Margaret: Yes I read and write Romance.

Sue: As a historical author, research must play a big part in your writing. How do you plan your research and do you have any tips you could pass on?

Margaret: I don’t really plan my research as such, I generally make a note of what information I need, then I go to my usual sources to find out what I want to know i.e. library, internet, diaries, I have notes from interviews, so I can often use the same information for two or three stories.

Sue: Deep down inside, who do you write for?

Margaret: Selfish as it may sound, I write for me.

Sue: What do you think are the basic ingredients to make a good story?

Margaret: A good plot, interesting characters. I love writing about ruthless/tortured heroes and the brave women who save/redeem them. I think setting is important too.

Sue: What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?

Margaret: Third Person.

Sue: How do you create your characters?

Margaret: I don’t, they just come to me. Admittedly vague and hazy at first, but once I start writing about them, their personalities become stronger, more insistent. They take over. I’ve been on a train, and I have had to scribble down notes because the characters said something really good to me, and I didn’t want to lose it. My husband thinks I am crazy because I don’t go anywhere without a note book and pen. I even have paper stashed in my bedside table. I get some incredible ideas in the dead of night.

Sue: What are you working on now?

Margaret: I am actually revising a story that I wrote years ago. It is a complete re-write actually, and is set against a background of the Eureka stockade rebellion in 1854 on the Ballarat gold fields.

Sue: As a writer your mind is your work tool. How do you take care of it?

Margaret: I nurture my brain by eating plenty of chocolate.

Sue: How do you avoid repeating yourself, or falling into formula? How do you stay fresh for each book you write?

Margaret: I do sometimes repeat myself, I will plead guilty to that, but I can honestly say, I don’t write to any particular formula except for the happy ever after ending. This gives me a lot of lee-way and keeps me fresh.

Sue: Do you find reader feedback helpful?

Margaret: Yes some reader feedback is helpful in a technical way, but I love hearing from readers who just write to say they enjoy my stories. It really boosts my morale and spurs me on.

Sue: Do you self-impose a discipline on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?

Margaret: No, I just write or work on my stories as much as I can.

Sue: How long did it take you to get your first book published? How did you go about picking an agent and/or publisher?

Margaret: My first publisher, Whiskey Creek Press was recommended to me. My other publishers, I picked out for myself after finding out as much as I could about them.  I don’t have an agent as yet.  It took me close on twenty years before my first novel was published.  I had had a few near misses over that time i.e. publishers going out of business before and after my books were released, publishers changing hands and not wanting my book anymore. I had an agent who died on me. Honestly, I could write a book about my tortuous path to publication.
Sue: Is there one of your novels that holds a special place in your heart?  Which book and why?

Margaret: I have to say The Trouble With Playboys, my 2nd World War novel from The Wild Rose Press, holds a special place in my heart as parts of it are set in Wangaratta where I was born. Also, the war sections are set in Singapore and Malaya where my late father served. He was engaged to my mother at the time, and she kept all his letters, and I was able to get a lot of information out of them. Just the little everyday things a soldier away from his loved ones might write about, which gives my story authenticity. I also used some of my Dad’s wartime experiences. He escaped from Singapore in an open boat, two days before the surrender to the Japanese, which was quite harrowing.

Sue: Do you have a couple you have written about who are your favorites and why?

Margaret: I like all my heroes and heroines, but my favourite hero (Ross) and heroine (Harry/Harriet), come from my Whiskey Creek Press novel, Devil’s Ridge, which is set against a background of World War 1.

Sue: What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Margaret: Catch up with family and friends.

Thank you Margaret. I've found your answers very informative and I'm sure others will too.

If you wish to find out more about Margaret and her novels visit her website


Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Sue,
Thanks for inviting me to your blog.

MarthaE said...

Thanks for a good interview Sue and Margaret! I like the sound of your books as they have a backdrop of real history! I have been surprised how much history I have learned (and retained) from reading historical romances!! Thanks for writing and entertaining us readers!

Mary Ricksen said...

Great interview ladies.
Maggie, you are one great author.
Australia, it's people and great actors, has evoked a certain magnetism for us here in the US, we love you.

Susan Macatee said...

Hi, Margaret and Sue!

Great interview!!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Susan, Mary and Martha,
Thanks you so much for dropping by and for your lovely comments. Truly appreciated.


Sue Perkins said...

Thank you all so much for dropping by, Margaret was a delightful person to interview.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Sue,
My pleasure. I would love to return the compliment if, and when, I get my blog up and running properly.

Amy Gallow said...

The letters from your father are an irreplaceable link to a generation.
Treasure them.
(Another proud Antipodean)

Margaret Tanner said...

Thank you Amy,
Nice of you to drop by, I do appreciate it.

Cate Masters said...

Great interview, Margaret and Sue! Margaret, I don't think writing for yourself is selfish at all. I'm a big believer in "going with your gut" - and yours obviously leads you in the right direction!
And I second the notion about chocolate too. One of life's necessities.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Cate,
Thanks for dropping by. Yes, what would we authors do without chocolate?


Mona Risk said...

Oh Margaret, what a fantastic inspiration. I visited Singapore last summer and tried to imagine your Dad's escape. I can feel your book is written with a lot of passion as it is based on true facts.

Francesca Prescott said...

Hi Sue, hello Margaret;

I enjoyed reading your interview. I also tend to boost my brain with chocolate, which is hardly a surprise since I live in Chocolateland (Switzerland!).

I love stories set in Australia; actually I love an Australian accent, too, and have to say that all the Australians I've met have been wonderful people. I hope I get the chance to visit someday. If only it weren't so far away...

Sue Perkins said...

Thank you everyone for dropping by and for your kind comments. Francesca how lucky you ar to live in THE chocolate place in the world. I always wanted to visit Switzerland when we were in the UK but missed my chance. Oh well, maybe when we're visiting the kids who have gone back to England to live.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Francesca
Lovely to catch up with you again. Thank you for dropping by.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Mona,
Thanks for dropping by. I have been to Singapore too, a stop-over on our way to the UK. Very emotional for me. We visited the war cemetery there, but for the grace of God my Dad could have been buried there with all his mates. But I wouldn't have been born if that had of happened.