Often I ask writers about their research. In Maggie Cammiss’ case, she doesn’t need research – she has lived the life. Let’s find out more!
So, Maggie, welcome. Please tell us more about yourself, and what inspired your debut novel.
I came away from the hectic environment of a 24-hour rolling news channel with a gift: masses of background material for a novel. It seemed a pity to waste it.
Indeed. You’ve got me intrigued already! I imagine that writing a novel is a bit different from working with breaking news, however – what do you love/hate most about creative writing?
I love making stuff up – constructing scenarios, fitting imaginary characters into them and engineering all their relationships. It’s like playing God. I don’t always like the isolation, or the detrimental effect that writing has on my bottom, but overall, it’s my dream job.
What don’t you like about this new career? What about the promotion side? Social media?
I can’t say I enjoy most of it and I only do Facebook and Twitter. It doesn’t come naturally to an oldie like me; it’s hard work building a following and the results aren’t always obvious, though I appreciate the promotional value. But it’s very time consuming and honestly, I’d rather be writing my next novel.
Do you make time for reading? If so, what do you read?
Mostly fiction. I have to carve precious reading time out of every busy day, and the very early morning suits me well, with a cup of tea, of course. I love crime fiction and contemporary writers, and I particularly enjoy discovering a new author, either by accident or recommendation. I read a lot of the classics when I was a teenager but I rarely re-read anything. I’m reading Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins at the moment. I love her work – her debut novel ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’ was instrumental in setting me on my writing journey.
That’s the quiet ‘me’ time then. What about when you write? Do you have a favourite spot? Do you like peace and quiet or a busy environment round about you?
I do the majority of my writing on my PC in the study, where I can close the door if I need to concentrate really hard. I always have the radio on in the kitchen, so I can hear it twittering away all day. I can write a longhand draft for a short story while I’m watching TV, but I need peace and quiet for the proper writing.
Do you have writing buddies or beta readers?
I have one friend in particular who’s my beta reader. She’s an avid reader herself but she looks at my work objectively. She doesn’t pull any punches and she’s very good at pointing out when my age-appropriate cultural references don’t work.
After completing No News is Good News I tackled the second draft by presenting a chapter a week to my writing group. It was hard work, but the comments and criticisms I received helped me enormously and incorporating them into the second draft served as a valuable editing tool.
Boy, that’s a challenging schedule! Is that what you are proudest of?
No – funnily enough, I am proudest of getting over my fear of speaking in public. I think I’ve hit and my stride recently, when I’ve given local talks about my writing journey. I don’t feel quite so nervous about it now.
Well, thanks for being my guest, Maggie – and for getting over your fear of being a guest blogger!
From Medialand to Broadland
Following a long career in television news, Maggie began writing seriously when she moved from London to Norfolk with her partner and joined a local writing group, Cutting Edge Writers, in Halesworth, Suffolk. Her experiences in 24-hour rolling news provided all the inspiration she needed for her debut novel, No News is Good News, which is set in the familiar environment of a television newsroom, and was published by Accent Press in December 2014.
Maggie believes that staring into space with a cup of tea to hand is a legitimate use of her time and takes a notebook and pen everywhere because she’s an inveterate eavesdropper. She spares no one, though the names are always changed to protect the guilty. In 2011 she completed the NaNoWriMo competition to write a novel in a month, with 50,000 words of a second novel, featuring a minor character from the first book, with a new set of characters and circumstances. She also writes short stories, some of which appear in Cutting Edge’s latest self-published anthology.
Eleanor was gearing up for marriage when her boyfriend Daniel rejected her without explanation and disappeared. Four years later, she has thrown herself into her hectic career as a TV news editor. She’s over the moon when an opportunity arises which could be the making of her career, and she knows she’s definitely over her ex.
That is, until Daniel returns with a brand-new fiancée on his arm, and her golden chance turns to be not as shiny as she had first anticipated …