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Today I am thrilled to welcome Maggie Christensen to join me to share a piece that she’s written about her life, her writing and the connections in her stories.


After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing contemporary women’s fiction portraying mature women facing life-changing situations. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her frequent visits to family in Oregon, USA, her native Scotland or her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast.

Maggie writes of mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them – heartwarming tales of second chances.

From her native Glasgow, Scotland, Maggie was lured by the call ‘Come and teach in the sun’ to Australia, where she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of over thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven!

She continues her love of books as a volunteer with her local library where she selects and delivers books to the housebound. Maggie enjoys meeting her readers at book signings and library talks.

When I emigrated from Scotland to Australia in my mid-twenties, lured by ads to Come and Teach in the Sun, featuring a man wearing swimming trunks and a gown and mortarboard, I had no idea that, fifty years later, I would be writing novels set in my native land.

When, as I neared retirement, I did begin writing fiction, I set my first novels in Australia where I lived and in Florence, Oregon where my mother-in-law lived and where we often visited. For some reason, it didn’t occur to me to set my books in Scotland.

However, I was often asked at book launches and book signings why I didn’t set any books in Scotland, and there was a story an aunt often told me of her ill-fated romance which I knew would make a good novel, if only I could find the right way to tell it.

So, when I was writing Broken Threads, which is set in Sydney, I introduced Bel, a secondary character who had an aging aunt in Scotland with the idea that – maybe – I would find a way to write my aunt’s story.

After several false starts, two years later, Bel’s story became my first Scottish novel, The Good Sister, with my aunt’s story fictionalised into that of Bel’s old Aunt Isobel. The story takes place in Glasgow, set mostly in the same street and in a house similar to one in which I lived as a student. But while I lived in a tiny bedsitter, Isobel MacDonald owns the entire house.

The Good Sister is the only historical novel I’ve written so far. It is set across two timeframes – contemporary and WW2 – which entailed a lot of research. I really enjoyed delving into the past for this story, searching the Internet, talking to older members of my family, and rummaging through old photographs of my parents and their generation.

As I wrote The Good Sister, I found many places of my childhood and teenage years came alive for me again. Much of my research took me back to the Scotland of my youth. Even words and phrases I hadn’t heard for years came back into my mind as I wrote.

I loved writing this book as I became totally involved in the lives of Bel and Matt who feature in the contemporary part of the book. I’d never intended this to be anything but a standalone book. But Bel and Matt took hold of me, and I began to wonder what the future held for them once Bel returned home to Sydney. This led to the sequel Isobel’ Promise which is set in both Scotland – on Loch Lomond where Matt lives – and in Australia – in Sydney where Bel lives.

Isobel’s Promise took me back to Scotland again, to the beautiful Loch Lomond where Matt lives, to the Glasgow of my student days – Byres Road, the pubs, now much gentrified, and into the heart of the city whose renaissance I had first researched while writing The Good Sister.

Bel and Matt became part of me – they were like good friends – so I continued to write their story. A Single Woman picks up the story of Alasdair, Matt’s son-in-law and takes place two years after Isobel’s Promise.

In A Single Woman, Bel and Matt are relegated to secondary characters along with Alasdair’s children Robbie and Fiona. Twelve-year-old Fiona is in a wheelchair and has proven to be popular with my readers.

The main characters in A Single Woman are Alasdair MacLeod and Isla Cameron –one reviewer described it as the thoughtful and touching story of the developing relationship between two rather damaged people (Put it in Writing)

The name Isla Cameron had been in my mind for some time – I had a picture of this tall, slim, dark woman who led a very insular life with a touch of mystery about her– but I didn’t know what her story would be. When I decided to write Alasdair’s story, I realised She was the perfect foil for him, and A Single Woman became her book.

I really enjoyed the trip down memory lane while writing this one. Isla lives in the same part of Glasgow I did as a student and in my early years as a teacher, so it was fun to revisit my old haunts – and to discover how much they’d changed since I lived there.

During my research I discovered some delightful nuggets of information. I was thrilled to discover The Willow Tearooms. They are based on the original Mrs Craddock tearooms from the early 1900’s in which the waitresses were called Mrs Craddock’s young ladies. The tearooms were inspired by the designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and one of their offerings is Hendrick’s Ginn n Tea which, of course, Isla and her friend had to indulge in.

I also discovered a number of speciality ice cream shops and thanks to my cousin’s daughter – who has teenagers – led my teenage characters to enjoy ice cream churros from what is labelled as the UK’s first ice cream and churro bar.

While I’ll never go back to Scotland to live, I may set more books there. It’s too tempting a prospect to once again steep myself in the countryside I still love and to bring back memories that I’d all but forgotten. While Scotland may be a world away from where I live on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, I can open my computer and be there in a flash – enjoy the scenery, hear the dialect, and visit all my favourite places with my characters.

A huge thank you to Maggie for joining me today, it’s a huge privilege to welcome indie authors to The Quiet Knitter blog to speak about their books, their writing habits and find out what their next project might be about.

To find out more about Maggie and her books, check out her social media links!

Website  http://maggiechristensenauthor.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/maggiechristensenauthor

Twitter   https://twitter.com/MaggieChriste33

Instagram  https://www.instagram.com/maggiechriste33

Goodreads  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8120020.Maggie_Christensen

Amazon Author Page  https://amzn.to/2Lt8fkL

Buy link for A Single Woman  books2read.com/ASingleWoman

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It’s such an honour to welcome along another wonderfully talented author to sit in the hot seat to day to share a little about the person behind the books and find out what’s on the horizon, so without further ado, welcome Maggie Christensen!


Author Feature:

profile Krista Eppelstun.jpg

Author Image:  Krista Ellelstun

After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing contemporary women’s fiction portraying mature women facing life-changing situations. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her frequent visits to family in Oregon, USA, her native Scotland or her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast. Maggie writes of mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them.

From her native Scotland, Maggie was lured by the call ‘Come and teach in the sun’ to Australia, where she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of over thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven!

She continues her love of books as a volunteer with her local library where selects and delivers books to the housebound.

A member of Queensland Writer’s Centre, RWA, ALLi, and a local critique group, Maggie enjoys meeting her readers at book signings and library talks. In 2014 she self-published Band of Gold and The Sand Dollar, Book One in the Oregon Coast Series and in 2015, The Dreamcatcher, Book Two in the Oregon Coast Series, and Broken Threads, the sequel to Band of Gold. Madeline House, Book Three in the Oregon Coast Series was published in July 2016, and Champagne for Breakfast, an offshoot from the Oregon Coast series set in Noosa, and The Good Sister, set in Scotland and featuring Bel from Broken Threads in 2017.

Maggie can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or on her website.

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

I love the thrill when I read a review or receive an email from a reader telling my how much they’ve enjoyed one of my books. It makes it all worthwhile to know that I’ve given pleasure to someone.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

Without a doubt, marketing. I’m much rather be writing and lost in a world with my characters.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

So many. But I’ll choose Marcia Willett’s Chadwick trilogy. These were the first books I read by this author and I immediately became a fan. I love her characters who become friends the reader really cares about, the sense of place and the way Willett brings back characters from earlier books to her readers.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

If I’m not tapping away at my laptop, you might find me curled up in my favourite chair with a book, walking along the river or the beach with my husband, or sipping coffee with him in one of our favourite cafes along the Noosa River. I also select and deliver books to a lady who is housebound as a volunteer for our local library. I live surrounded by books – my idea of heaven.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

I like silence and prefer to write in the early morning, though, if I don’t get my work count done then, I’ll revisit my manuscript in the late afternoon. I like to have a glass of water by my side and my copy of The Emotional Thesaurus, plus my notebook for the novel.

What’s on the horizon? What can your fans look forward to next?

 I’m currently editing the sequel to The Good Sister, called Isobel’s Promise which should be published mid-year. When I wrote the end to The Good Sister, I knew I couldn’t leave Bel and Matt and had to continue their story. Isobel’s Promise is set in both Australia and Scotland

I’m also writing a follow on to Isobel’s Promise. A Model Wife will pick up Celia, a minor character in the Good Sister and follow her story almost two years later. It seems I’m developing a Sydney series as, in this book, readers will be reunited with characters from Band of Gold and Broken Threads too, some of whom appear briefly in Isobel’s Promise.

I love meeting old friends in the books I read – something Marci Willett does so well – so also enjoy writing them and hope my readers enjoy this too.

 

Finally, if you could impart one pearl of wisdom to your readers, what would it be? 

It’s never too late to follow your dreams.

 

Can you tell me a little bit about your latest book? How would you describe it and why should we go read it?

Set in Scotland and moving from the nineteen-thirties to the present day, The Good Sister is a women’s fiction book featuring compelling real-life characters, fascinating plot twists and a strong mid-life heroine.

To quote one reviewer The Good Sister is a beautiful Scottish based wartime saga that fuses the past with the present, through two unforgettable women, who are both named Isobel.

In 1938, as the world hurtled towards war, twenty-year-old Isobel MacDonald fell madly in love. But fate and her own actions conspired to deny her the happiness she yearned for. Many years later, plagued with regrets and with a shrill voice from the past ringing in her ears, she documents the events that shaped her life.

In 2015, sixty-five-year-old Bel Davison returns from Australia to her native Scotland to visit her terminally ill aunt. Reading Isobel’s memoir, she is beset with memories of her own childhood and overcome with guilt. When she meets her aunt’s solicitor, events seem to spiral out of control and, almost against her will, she finds herself drawn to this enigmatic Scotsman.

What is it that links these two women across the generations? Can the past influence the future?

Buy links

Amazon UK http://amzn.to/2yK8iF6

Amazon US http://amzn.to/2h0DNB6

Amazon AU http://amzn.to/2hXWMMt

 

A huge thank you to Maggie for joining me today and sharing a little about herself, it’s always lovely to get to know more about the author behind the books.  I love the sound of The Good Sister, will definitely have to add this to my ever growing reading list.

 

 

Social Media Links:

Website: http://maggiechristensenauthor.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maggiechristensenauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaggieChriste33
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8120020.Maggie_Christensen
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maggiechriste33/

 

 

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