Friday, August 26, 2016
Guest Blogger: Margaret Egrot
Please tell us about your latest book
Girl Friends is a novel for young adults about the friendship between two girls who were born without any advantages in life except that Courtney is clever and Grace is beautiful. This is how a recent critic describes the book:
What happens when teen-aged Courtney has to be the adult in her family of two very young sisters and an alcohol addled mother? Then what happens when she must also save her best friend from an abusive boyfriend? How does Courtney keep her dreams of going on to college when she's faced with dire prospects and told there is no future for her by her own mother? There are no easy answers for this insightful-beyond-her-years girl. [All the] characters have very human flaws and with personal demons of his/her own to overcome. There are no villains and no heroes in this story.
The book lends itself well for further group study.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I am working on a series of short stories to create fictional back-stories for several of Shakespeare’s female characters – what was going on in their lives before they came on stage, or after they left? It’s great fun, and is chance to re-read the bard’s plays away from the pressure of exams and essays (I studied English literature at University). Solstice has published a few of these stories in anthologies over the last couple of years (Chains of Magic, Journey to the Fair Mountain, A Mid Summer Day’s Dream). Another, The Ghost Queen, will be in their fantasy anthology in the autumn.
I also have a short play being read at a local literary festival, so will shortly be re-working the script with the young actors involved. The city where I live now (Coventry, UK) is bidding to be the next City of Culture.
How can we find out about you and your books?
Both my novels, and many of my short stories, are available from my Amazon author page.
Information about my plays is on my website: www.margaretegrotwriter.weebly.com I also write a blog which goes out twice a week:
And you can find me on Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Margaret-Egrot/1374506486178952
Or twitter https://twitter.com/meegrot
What does your husband think of your writing?
My husband is very supportive. He never reads my stories before I submit them to a publisher, as he knows that he couldn’t resist offering suggestions – and I that couldn’t resist biting his head off for them. He does however read most of my plays, and attend any performances.
How many books have you written and how many have been published?
I have written three full length books. One was purely to see if I could actually stick with a writing regime for the length of a novel. I’ve never revised it and never tried to get it
published. I have since written two novels for teenagers, And Alex Still has Acne, and Girl Friends, both released by Solstice Publishing.
Have you ever experienced writer’s block?
For years I would think I had a good idea for a book, but as soon as I sat down to write, everything would evaporate. Hence, that first book I mentioned above was a drill I put myself through to get over this hurdle. Now I will sometimes sit down to write a play – and find it works better as a story, or vice versa. And Alex Still has Acne started as a play, but I felt the scenes with the adult characters didn’t work as well as the scene with two minor characters – Alex and his friend Sam – so it became a YA book instead. Girl Friends started as a book for adults in the third person, but it was boring me to write it (so what would it have done to a reader?) Rather than abandon the project I switched to writing the story in Courtney’s voice.
How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
I am not comfortable writing about any character that remotely resembles me – maybe, one reason why my two published books are for young adults. But a lot of life experience, and people I’ve met, appear in all my work (suitably anonymised of course!)
What do you do to relax?
I swim before breakfast four times a week, including one master class. I like to tell people that I train in the next lane to a woman who is scheduled to swim the English Channel in 2017. It’s true – it’s just that after an hour I go home for my breakfast, but she goes to a nearby lake to swim for another five or six hours, even in the winter. I also enjoy reading, going to the theatre and taking the dog for a walk.
Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Don’t do it! There are more than enough books out there already, so take up reading instead. But if you still can’t resist putting pen to paper, then all that reading will have vastly improved your own writing skills.