It's all about me ... 2019

Having done all the usual stuff – school, marriage, kids – Margaret moved to Tiaro, Queensland from Tasmania. She’s currently retired and spends a lot of her time writing, reading and talking to herself. She has published several books - children’s fantasy, YA and adult fiction, along with the castle chronicles for Victory Village at Riverbend.

The Ring of Curses – her first book in her Merlin’s School for Ordinary Children fantasy series for 9 years and upwards - was nominated for the Ditmar awards, and in 2014 and 2015 Margaret was a featured author in The Premier’s Reading Challenge, Tasmania. She was a literary adjudicator with the 2016 Maryborough Eisteddfod in Queensland.

She continues to write and has just published the third book in the Merlin's School series in ebook format, with print soon to come.

An interview with Ashleigh Oldfield

Q&A:

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it? 

The title of my latest writing is called The Eye of the Ice Dragon. It was inspired by a Facebook meme and a funny exchange with a friend. I was lucky enough to have another friend (British cartoonist, Karl Dixon) offer to design a fabulous cover for this work that I’m looking forward to using.

Q2: What are five words that describe your writing process? 

Chaotic. Unstructured. Pantser. Different. Whenever. 

Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you? 

Stephen King for his linear style (I have read most of his earlier works) Tolkein (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings) for his imagination. George RR Martin (Game of Thrones series) for his use of historical events. 

Q4: What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused? 

Silence and a great view. The view was once of the ocean. Now it is the things I have around me in my home. They tickle my imagination.

Q5. What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing? 

The ability to use one’s imagination so well that you can ‘see’ a great story and setting while you are reading.

Q6: What is the best advice you have ever heard? 

Just write (Stephen King)

Q7: What is your favourite genre to read? 

Thrillers and mysteries. I don’t mind if they are historical, fantasy or horror, but I’m not much into Sci-Fi. I do enjoy a good middle-grade adventure/fantasy occasionally too.

Q8: What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why? 

The title, would you believe. For me the story is inside the title … it’s like a many layered sweet that is tucked into a wrapper. You have to peel away the layers to discover the characters and their journey. As for why, I truly don’t know. It’s just the way it is for me.

Q9: What are you working on now? 

The Eye of the Ice Dragon, and another paranormal romance novella. I like to swing between a couple of books to allow the stories to evolve, plus it means no writer’s block.

Q10: What are you currently reading? 

I’ve just finished a Nora Roberts book - a romance novel - not something I normally read. It’s more for research for my own writing than enjoyment.

Margaret R. Blake has been kind enough to share an unedited exerpt from The Eye of the Ice Dragon with us. I love it when authors let us catch a glimpse of their work before it's ready.

     ‘Exhausted, Torathel dropped to the ground also. He gazed towards Solaris’ corpse. He saw the spear sticking out from its tail, with the large gash underneath, and he saw where he had tried to plunge the stake into the creature’s heart. It was only when he looked at his own hands that he spied the small droplet of blood and the sliver of red skin on the end of one of his talons that he realised he had found the true weapons that he wielded.      

     That was when he finally let out a loud cry of jubilation, allowing it to pierce the silence like an arrow. He raised his arms to the sky. The feeling that his power was growing with the knowledge of what he had just done was exhilarating. And there was also something else indefinable that seemed to emanate from the dragon. It was almost as if the Shadowmancer had taken on something that was of Solaris.’

 Interview by Ashleigh Oldfield author of the Rachaya series - https://www.asholdfield.com/search/label/Author%20Interviews

An interview with Fiona Mcvie 2019

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?

My name is Margaret R Blake – I use this form as there is another author with the same name) I am on the young side of 67

Fiona: Where are you from?

I am northern hemisphere born, spending almost 10 years in Britain. I now live in Queensland after living for thirty-three years in Tasmania – a place I regard as my southern home.

Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).

Education for me has been an ongoing thing starting with the regular stuff until high school, graphic design at college, editing and proofreading a few years ago with Open Colleges, and lots of other bits in between. I was married many years ago and have two fine grown-up children. I have lived on my own for an age – and I love it. Never a dull moment.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

I have just launched my latest book, ‘The Healing,’ a novel set in medieval times. It was my first foray into writing for adult. I am now focusing on my ongoing series, Merlin’s School #3, and a second novel for adults.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing about twenty-five years ago after reading a particularly horrendously written novel. It was a personal challenge for me.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I was picked up by a small publisher for my first middle-grade novel, Merlin’s School for Ordinary Children – The Ring of Curses. To me that signalled that I was doing okay.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book was a disaster as I was trying to write like Stephen King. There is only one Stephen King! I then fiddled around with other bits and pieces, took two writing courses and then started developing my own style. My first book came from the ending of the Harry Potter series. I thought … ‘What am I going to do now for my magic fix?’ That’s when I came up with my idea for Merlin’s School -no witches or wizards in that castle … or is there?

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

My titles come to me before the story. The story seems to unfold out of them like a flower opening up its petals … allowing me to see the words I need at the time.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?

Each individual story I write dictates its own style – it has its own voice – so they are all different. Is it challenging? Sometimes, when trying to keep the plot together and running as it should.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I like to take a little bit of history to incorporate into my backstories. I find this makes for a good solid base. Little bits of people I know or whom I have met in the past do find their way into my stories, but I think that’s the way it is with all writers. I use a lot of my own experiences also, as this gives a real feel to the characters. I don’t like to be too airy-fairy within my imaginary worlds.

Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?

I only travel to the library, and these days that’s online, so I don’t go far. At my age I don’t want to.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

I design my own covers because I have a specific idea in mind of what I want. I get my images from online, and of course, I give all the credit to the artists involved. Not all of us are as talented as they are in this department.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

In all my novels there is a touch of wisdom. It’s usually subtly woven into the story – nobody wants it shoved down their throat. Novels are designed to entertain, but it doesn’t hurt to learn something from them as well … like friendship, co-operation, even learning about ourselves and what we are capable of.

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?  Who is your favourite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?

Once I followed particular authors, but these days I find it is the storyline that grabs my attention. There are a lot of them out there these days.

Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.

My first publisher, Kerry B Collison, I guess. He’s a big-time author himself so that counted for something.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

No. It’s a hobby. In the big pond that is Amazon, people like me are only little fish unless a big wig catches you on their hook. But I’m happy, so that’s what counts in the long run.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

No. It took many months to get the information in ‘The Healing’ together. I had help from Beta readers for the first time ever and I found that this was what I needed with this book. It was very time-consuming to write as it was imperative to get it right.

Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?

Yes … patience. I found also I gained more focus, which is always a good thing with a craft of any type.

Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

Now that’s a tough one.  I have a picture in mind, but actually putting it to a real face is difficult. I’ll have to think on this one.

Fiona: Any advice for other writers?

Yes. Do it! And let your words flow. Don’t worry about all the grammatical things. A writer needs to find their voice and this, I found, was the best way to do it. Then just keep at it.

Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

Firstly, and always, thank you. And please … let me know what you think. I’m always open to improvement.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

A crime thriller by Sue Grafton, The Book of Forgotten Authors, by Christopher Fowler, and I’ve just finished a murder mystery by Karen Slaughter. I’ll read almost anything except politics, sports-based novels and biographies.

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

Possibly … Black Beauty. I love horses. If not that it was Wind in the Willows – one of my favourite books.

Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

I have a very British sense of humour, so I love good comedy. A lot of British sit-coms would do it for me, like the Two Ronnies, or Black Adder. St. Trinians movies are fantastic. America comedy show M*A*S*H is clever, love the Big Bang Theory, and Friends was great in its time also. I try not to take life too seriously. As for crying … I’m pretty soft-hearted. It’s the usually the sweet things that animals do, a tragic love-story, or an uplifting struggle by someone who is deserving.

Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?

Jimi Hendix. I think he was magical. He was a very spiritually person, as well as being extremely talented. But then he’s the first person who come to mind.

Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?

Yes, I love needlework in all forms and do quilting as well. I like to create, even if it’s only in a small way. I would walk more if I could get out into an English wood, but sadly they are two far away.

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

I’m a movie buff so therefore I’m always on the look out for one. Sometimes I’ll do a repeat … even a repeat of a repeat but that is because there is so much rubbish on TV these days. Other than that, I choose to watch British shows.

Fiona: Favourite foods, colours, music?

I enjoy food in general. Love to be surrounded by colour. As for music I like something different and find I’m looking for stuff that is from the past, even way back to medieval times. Love the harp.

Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?

Read or stitch.

Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?

With my children.

Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?

She had a go at most things!

https://authorsinterviews.wordpress.com/2019/09/30/here-is-my-interview-with-margaret-r-blake/

An interview with Seumas Gallacher 2016

The lines from OZ are open ... another pal, Authoress, Margaret R Blake, shares today ...

…serendipity is a marvellous thing, Mabel… it seems to have allowed me to tap into a wealth of terrific scribblers from Australia… and darn entertaining they are, too… today, Authoress, Margaret Rose Blake has sent me this :

Hello there, I’m Margaret R Blake, author of The Ring of Curses (#1 in the Merlin’s School for Ordinary Children series) – Sword of Stone (#2 in the Merlin’s School series )– is to be released very soon), RIVERBEND; A Collection of Fairy Tales and Other Stories, and BITS AND PIECES – An Anthology of Bits of Stories and Pieces of Poetry. I usually write children’s fantasy but have since branched out to try my hand at some other stuff as well (which is where BITS AND PIECES comes into play). All my books can be found on Amazon, Barns and Noble and Booktopia … see PUBLISHING HISTORY on my web site.

Merlin’s School #1 The Ring of Curses was nominated for the Ditmar awards, and I was featured in the Premier’s Reading Challenge twice, 2014 and 2015.

I have been writing for about twenty years or more now, but it is not my only hobby. I also like to indulge in some needlework on occasion and I love to read. I’m a bit of a movie buff as well when I get a moment to spare. All these things can be very inspiring and it doesn’t take much for the imagination to get cranked up. As horrifying as it might sound I am working on about a dozen books/novellas all up at this moment, with some in different genres, would you believe. I love the scope that I have to play with and the characters I can invent. It keeps my mind busy and my work varied. Currently I‘m concentrating on a YA novella and an adult fantasy novella, as well as #3 in my Merlin’s School series.

You can follow me at www.facebook.com/margaretroseblake

Or … you can keep up with my publishing progress and other stuff on my site here at www.merlins-school.com

Please find below an excerpt of Merlin’s School #1 – The Ring of Curses

‘Okay,’ the Professor beamed while pulling out a length of black cord from his wonder gadget. He passed it on to Jane Ripley, who was standing closest to him, ‘Hand this on to the next person and so on,’ he instructed as he reeled out more cord. ‘And stand close everybody and wrap it around.’

         ‘What’s this?’ Neville asked with a sneer as the cord was passed to him. ‘Walkies!’

        ‘Not at all, Mr Cormac, it’s a Time Line, and this is what will take us where we are going. It’s faster than a bus,’ he smiled at Cedric, ‘and more suited to our purpose.’

         ‘Well halleluiah and praise the Lord!’ Neville laughed uproariously. ‘This school certainly takes the cake.’

         ‘I’m sure it does.’ The Professor grinned back, taking the end of the Time Line in his hand and attaching it firmly to a clip under the dials. ‘Is everyone inside?’

         There was another chorus of affirmatives. Now, though, with the end of the cord locked into place curiosities were being piqued and there was growing air of expectation amongst the students.

         ‘Hang on tightly, children,’ the Professor encouraged, pressing the small red button on the Time Line firmly and saying in the same moment, ‘Alpha ad Omega, the circle is complete.’

         A low humming began to fill the air, which surprisingly started to grow quite heavy. The students moved closer together, eyes wide and wondering what they were about to experience. The ground began to shake slightly, then more strongly as a whirlwind started turning about them like an enveloping spiral, causing the humming sound to grow and grow, escalating rapidly into a terrible, deafening roar. The spiral spun even faster and faster with each second, creating a vortex that pressed in on them ever steadily. Now, with the incredible noise and the unstable craziness there was no doubt as to what was to happen.

         They were all going to die!

        Daffodil Stimmer screamed loudly, a long drawn out scream that was eventually lost in the echoing void of the vortex, along with the grey dimensions of the castle. And suddenly everything was surrounded by darkness, with everybody feeling like they were being pulled through an extremely long and windy tube of spaghetti. Then … with the sound of a gunshot, everyone was deposited soundly on their derrieres, and the blackness began slowly to fade, bringing everything swimming back into bright sunlight. Boys and girls alike blinked like owls against this glare. Ernest Digby polished his glasses frantically, thinking that there was something wrong with the lenses. It was only Professor Flounder who remained standing, not in the least bit perturbed by the ordeal. He calmly unclipped the Time Line and walked around the jumble of stricken students, winding in the black cord as he did so.

         ‘What was that?’ Cedric Finnegan enquired, still blinking wildly against the retreating glare. He had bright white spots in his eyes that floated about all over the place. In fact, they were making him feel quite dizzy.

         The history professor smiled his usual smile. ‘Just a normal part of time travel I’m afraid. It is worse travelling backwards than it is travelling forwards. I think it has something to do with the fact that the future hasn’t occurred yet so the space isn’t as cluttered with miscellaneous rubbish.’

…many thanks, m’Lady, Margaret…

…see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!…

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