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Hello and welcome along to another Celebrating Indie Publishing post!  I am delighted to be be able to shine a spotlight on some truly wonderful indie authors and publishers out there, and today is no exception.  I am joined by Margaret Skea, author of the Munro series and a fictionalised account of the early life of Katharina von Bora.


Author Feature:

Portrait

Margaret Skea grew up in Northern Ireland during the ‘Troubles’, so is no stranger to conflict. Her passion is for authentic, atmospheric historical fiction, and now living in Scotland she chose a Scottish story for her first novel series.

Turn of the Tide won her the Beryl Bainbridge Award for Best 1st Time Novelist 2014, and the sequel A House Divided was longlisted for the Historical Novel Society New Novel Award 2016. Both follow the fortunes of a fictional family trapped in the long-running and bloody historic feud between the Cunninghames and Montgomeries, known as the Ayrshire Vendetta. The third volume is due in May. In the meantime she has turned her attention to 16th century Germany to bring a little known, but hugely influential woman – Katharina von Bora – out of the shadows. She is also a prize-winning short story writer and her first collection Dust Blowing includes some of her prize-winning stories.

 

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

Can I cheat and mention two?

The first is interacting with readers. There is nothing more satisfying, having written a book, than to hear that it has impacted positively in someone else’s life.

And secondly, while I’m writing, the most exciting part of the process is the joy of seeing characters coming to life on the page: growing and developing, sometimes in quite unexpected ways.

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

That’s easy – the need to market and promote both myself and the books. While I love talking about books and the craft of writing, I don’t enjoy the (essential) selling aspect.

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

I guess this is another way of asking what is my all-time favourite book. Going by the one that I’ve re-read most times it would be Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery. There is one point in that book at which I always have a lump in my throat no matter how many times I read it. (And I’ve read the book and watched the film multiple times.) I’d love to be able to stir a reader’s emotions to that extent.

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

I’m a Christian first and a writer second, so my priority always has to be out-working my faith, whether that is through my writing or in other aspects of my life. Consequently I strive to keep a balance between writing and responsibilities within my church and in the home, as well as making time for family and friends.

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

I can concentrate much more in the mornings, so in an ideal week I will write four of five mornings per week and I always set myself a target of 1000 words per day. Sometimes I manage more, sometimes less, but if I can achieve a word increase (after light editing) of 5,000 per week then I’m on track.

I’m not very good at self-discipline, though, so for the last 3 books I have gone to somewhere other than my own house to write, where I can neither be distracted by anyone else, or (worse) distract myself!

I do find deadlines concentrate the mind, so if I have one coming up I find I can write for many more hours in a day. But one essential for me is silence. (I can just about cope with the sound of the central heating, on the basis that without it I’d be miserable!)

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

Book 3 in the Munro series (Turn of the Tide, A House Divided) is with the editor just now and I hope it will be available in May.* I don’t have a title for it yet, though, which is a wee headache. And within the next fortnight I shall be beginning the second (and final) novel based on the life of Katharina von Bora (the escaped nun who became Martin Luther’s wife.) I hope to have it out in time for Christmas 2018. After that? Who knows? What I do know is that for the foreseeable future I am likely to stick to historical fiction and probably in and around the 16th century.

*Book 3 in the Munro series has now been published with the title By Sword and Storm.

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

The latest published book is Katharina: Deliverance, which came out in October 2017. It is a fictionalized account of the early life of Katharina von Bora, up to the point of her marriage to Martin Luther. (The second book will finish her story.) She is a fascinating and enigmatic character who came alive to me through travelling around Saxony following in her footsteps. As to why anyone should read it – this is what the reviewer on the Discovered Diamonds website said –

     ‘First, a confession. All I really knew of Martin Luther was an impression of a man  

   in monk’s garb (incorrect) nailing parchments to church doors in the dead of night

  (also incorrect) and schoolboy giggles when reading about a diet of Worms. Thus,

  when this book arrived in my inbox, my heart rather sunk a bit for it is not a period

  that I am particularly well-versed, or even interested, in.

  However, any misgivings I may have had were dispelled completely by the time I had

  reached the second page. The quality and style – written in the first person and the

  present tense – didn’t so much grab me as to physically haul me back through the

  centuries and wouldn’t let me go until I had read every single word.’

 

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

To readers? – Don’t waste time finishing a book that isn’t to your taste. There are too many good books out there and you’ll never have time to read them all.  And to writers? – Treat your readers with respect and never, ever short-change them by giving them less than your best.

 

 

Buy links:
Turn of the Tide (Book 1 in the Munro series)
A House Divided (Book 2 in the Munro series)
By Sword and Storm (Book 3 in the Munro series)

Katharina: Deliverance

Dust Blowing and Other Stories

 

A huge thank you to Margaret for joining me today and sharing a little about herself. I have to admit, there are a few books that I read regularly that can pull the same emotions from me, regardless of how many times I’ve read them before. I sympathise about the distractions, I’m awful for being distracted by absolutely anything … even favoring doing a load of ironing instead of what I should be doing!

Social Media Links:

Website: https://margaretskea.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MargaretSkeaAuthor.Novels/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/margaretskea1

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