Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Q & A with Maxine Morrey

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I'm very happy to welcome Maxine Morrey on the blog today, she answered some questions about her books and writing. 

1.    Did you always dream of being a writer?

I did, but it really was just that – a dream. I have always written, from the moment I picked up a pencil but it wasn’t a career I ever thought ‘normal’ people like me could have…

2.    How did your writing career develop?

My first novel (No Place Like Home) was self published some time ago after a contract in America fell through (thanks to the recession). Since then I’ve written a non fiction book for a local history publisher and a bunch of articles on everything from motor sport to wedding dresses. In 2015, I won the ‘Write Christmas’ competition being run by HQ (then Carina) with ‘Winter’s Fairytale’. On the basis of that, I was offered a two book deal with them, and recently signed another contract with them for a further two books.

3.    Your newest novel is called The Christmas Project, what is it about?

The heroine, Kate, runs her own very successful business decluttering people’s houses. Kate likes everything tidy, and that includes her life. Then she gets roped in by her best friend, Janey, to sort out Janey’s brother’s house. The very gorgeous Michael isn’t exactly on board with the plan, and has no qualms about showing his displeasure so it’s fair to say a few sparks fly between the two and Kate’s tidy life begins to get a little more messy…

4.    What was your inspiration for the book?

I’d been planning on a big declutter last year and read Marie Kondo’s book about the subject, partly just out of interest. I guess the seed planted itself then and when I came to write the next book, there was Kate…

5.    Can you tell us more about the main character(s)?

Kate is strong and independent. She’s had challenges in her life from an early age and that’s left her a little guarded and very reluctant to ask anyone for anything. Michael on the other hand is far more open. It’s quite clear when he does or doesn’t like something. He’s from a supportive, loving family but a broken marriage devastated him and he’s turned his pain into drive for his work, neglecting himself and his true nature.

6.    Where and when do you write your stories?

I tend to do a five day week, and as much as possible keep my weekend free so that I can spend time with my other half. He actually works weekends so our days off are usually mid week so it’s good that I can be flexible otherwise I don’t think we’d see each other very much! Obviously when the pressure’s on, those days off can very easily get swallowed up too!

Most of the time I just write at home, but I do try and get out some days and go to a café. It’s good to have a change of scenery and it’s also good to prevent distractions and procrastination because you can’t just go and put the washing on, or do this or that. You have to just get on with it.

7.    What do you do and enjoy when you’re not writing?

Reading – of course. And I love to get out and go for a walk, especially by the sea. I’ve just joined a gym to try and combat the fact that I spend my working life hunched over a computer so we’ll see how that goes! I love listening to podcasts, and I also enjoy sewing – although the latter hasn’t had a lot of attention for a while, sadly!

8.    If you could switch places with a character from a book, who would it be and why?

Ooh good question! I’m not sure! Someone who got to travel a lot, definitely – preferably in luxury! :D

9.    What books have influenced your life most?

I read Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ when I was about nine, and I think that was the first real classic I’d actually read. It definitely made a huge ‘First Impression’ (ha ha!) and began a lifelong love of Austen’s novels, and interest in the period she wrote in and about. It also gave me a love of classic literature in general. I love the different language and periods, and the fact that you just get completely swept up and transported back in time to those places.

10.   What are you working on at the moment?

Books three and four!

11.    What do you enjoy most about writing?

Definitely the escapism, and knowing that everything I write is going to have a happy ending. You certainly can’t guarantee that in the real world, but on the page? It’s totally up to you!

12.    Pick three authors you want to have dinner with and tell us why.

Can they be from any era?

Harlan Coben – I’ve been to a couple of his talks and he’s always interesting and fun, and I love the sarcastic humour in his books.

Jane Austen – Again, I think she’d be a total hoot!

Jojo Moyes – in order to ask her to change the ending of ‘Me Before You’!

13.    Imagine The Christmas Project would be turned into a movie, who would you cast for the main characters?

Obviously I’d be thrilled if anyone played them! Ha ha! The thing is, we all read books and get a picture in our mind of the characters and then, if someone says ‘Oh, they look like this..’ it sort of messes with that picture. So, I think I’ll leave that up to the reader and let them picture who’d they have playing them.   

14.   You also wrote Winter’s Fairytale, can you tell us more about it?

Of course! Six months ago, our heroine Izzy had been stood up at the altar, and it had been left to the best man, Rob, to deliver the bad news to her. Izzy doesn’t exactly shoot the messenger but neither does she take it well…understandably! So when later in the run up to Christmas she gets stranded in London thanks to the snow, the last person she wants to run into is Rob…

15.   How would you describe your style of writing?

I remember a very kind review for ‘Winter’s Fairytale’ describing it as ‘fun and fizzy’, which I loved! Ideally, I want the reader to be caught up in every emotion, whether that’s happiness and laughter, or heartbreak and tears. I want the writing to envelop them so that they really feel invested in the characters and what happens to them.

16.   Coffee or tea?

Definitely a tea girl.

17.   Paperback or e-reader?

Hardback, paperback, and e-reader. The important thing is the books – and they are still books, whatever form they’re in.

18.   Mountains or the sea?

The sea – I love walking by it, and find it very calming. I think I must have been a sailor or something in a previous life. Or a fish! J

19.   Summer or winter?

Probably Spring actually, just to be awkward! (Sorry!)

20.   Sweet or salty?


About the author

Maxine has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember and wrote her first (very short) book for school when she was ten. Coming in first, she won a handful of book tokens - perfect for a bookworm! 

As years went by, she continued to write, but 'normal' work often got in the way. She has written articles on a variety of subjects, aswell as a book on Brighton for a Local History publisher. However, novels are what she loves writing the most. After self publishing her first novel when a contract fell through, thanks to the recession, she continued to look for opportunities. 

In August 2015, she won Harper Collins/Carina UK's 'Write Christmas' competition with her romantic comedy, 'Winter's Fairytale'.

Maxine lives on the south coast of England, and when not wrangling with words, can be found tackling her To Be Read pile, sewing, listening to podcasts, and walking.

Twitter                        @Scribbler_Maxi
Instagram      @scribbler_maxi
Pinterest        ScribblerMaxi


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