Author Interviews

* you can find the original interviews and much more on my 'everything writing' blog (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com), including author spotlights, guest posts, book reviews, flash fiction or poetry - new items posted 6am UK time Monday to Saturday and writing exercises at 6pm very weekday.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Author interview no.239: Margaret Falcon (revisited)


Back in January 2012, I interviewed author Margaret Falcon for my WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to the two hundred and thirty-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with author of horror, mystery, poetry, short stories and spotlightee Margaret Falcon. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello again, Margaret. We learned a little about you in your spotlight back in October but do tell us more.
Margaret: I have loved reading all of my life, but when I was a teenager, I got into the ’80s horror movie genre. I went to any horror film, even if it was stupid. The films that intrigued me the most were the ones I could not figure out. Later, I found myself working alone in a guardhouse with a switchboard and an electric IBM typewriter. I was extremely bored, so I began forming a story. The more I wrote, the more the characters came to life. They haunted me to put them on paper, and to tell their stories.
Morgen: I love that image. :) What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Margaret: I write mystery / horror / suspense, but ironically I have also considered children’s books – not frightening topics, of course!
Morgen: Ah but children love being frightened. OK, semi-frightened. What have you had published to-date?
Margaret: I have recently published my first novel, Triangle, a murder mystery.
Morgen: Have you ever seen a member of the public (whom you don’t know!) reading your book… in any unusual locations?
Margaret: I wish! It’s still early in the process, so hopefully this will happen in the future!
Morgen: Wouldn’t that be great? How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Margaret: I have done everything on my own. I have created a website, http://www.margaretfalcon.com, and I have created and passed out a number of business cards. I also have displays of my novel in my offices. Also, I tell anyone within earshot, and beyond about my book!
Morgen: And I bet they listen (I’d hope so anyway). Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
Margaret: No. I have only submitted locally, and only once. Most of the chosen works seemed to be within a certain group. Of course I probably shocked them when I went and did this, myself. I didn’t need the approval of a small group of individuals.
Morgen: ‘Falcon’ is quite unusual, do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?
Margaret: Margaret Falcon is my pseudonym. She’s just such an interesting lady.
Morgen: :) Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Margaret:  I have no agent. I was under contract with one a couple years ago, but when the time came for the contract to expire, I did not renew it. I think the success depends upon the agent. Mine didn’t do too much to impress me.
Morgen: Oh dear. I’ve had quite a few interviewees say the same but I think agents have to push harder these days, now we have more freedom with eBooks etc. Are your books available as eBooks?
Margaret: They are! There is a free three chapter preview of Triangle on Amazon’s Kindle site.
Morgen: What was your first acceptance?
Margaret: I’m still working on acceptance. I think the way I took the plunge surprised many people. I hope that this project takes off. I would like to see many people enjoying Triangle.
Morgen: Fingers crossed. There’s nothing quite like feedback for it to sink in that it’s not just people you know reading your work. :) Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Margaret: When I first began submitting to publishers, yes. Since I’m a realist, I wasn’t worried about rejections. With the computer age and technology, I just decided to quit waiting, and just do it.
Morgen: Good plan. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Margaret: I am working on a collection of short horror stories for a novel titled Wake the Dead.
Morgen: Ooh I love short stories. Been a while since I read any horror though. I used to love it in my teens but I’ve technically mellowed (to crime) since then. :) Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Margaret: I try to write most days, but if I don’t, I don’t worry about it. For me, the writing is about enjoyment. The most I’ve written in a day? I have no clue. I just don’t keep up with it like that. I simply get something in my mind, and write about it.
Morgen: What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Margaret: Writer’s block is a very real thing. I have most certainly suffered from it. My writer’s block occurred during periods of stress or grief over the loss of loved ones. I “cure” it, by allowing myself to grieve, and riding the storm out. The storm will pass. I just hang on, until it does, then the writing returns naturally.
Morgen: A question some authors dread, where do you get your inspiration from?
Margaret: I get my inspiration from ‘80s horror films and from Stephen King.
Morgen: Ah Stephen King; the reason why I wear glasses (book, torch, duvet). Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Margaret: I plot in my head, then I start typing and run with it.
Morgen: Me too. :) Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Margaret: I have in mind the personality for each character, whether “good” or “bad”. My characters are believable because I am able to show each one’s personality, reasoning, and vulnerabilities. I make them real. Even a “bad” character is a “person” the readers can relate to.
Morgen: They do have to be – no excuse for a reader to switch off. Do you write any non-fiction?
Margaret: I write about things in everyday life, from a humorous standpoint. For example, my journal.
Morgen: How about poetry? If so, do you write to form or free verse? What would you say is the difference between a piece of prose and a prose poem? Why do you think poetry is so popular and yet so poorly paid?
Margaret: I like form. I don’t know much about prose or pieces of prose. I think poetry is singing on paper. It is popular because most people have the ability to put their emotions on paper that way. I think it is so poorly paid for the same reason.
Morgen: You said earlier that you’re writing a collection of short stories, apart from the word count, what do you see as the differences between them and novels and why do you think they’re so difficult to get published?
Margaret: The short stories have to pack a lot in a smaller amount of space. What takes two hundred or more pages to get readers involved, has to be accomplished with much less. A writer needs to “grab” the reader with the short story, and make the reader feel that he / she has gotten the same satisfaction as from a full-length novel.
Morgen: (which is why I love them) Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
Margaret: My significant other, if there is a significant other at the time I’ve completed a piece.
Morgen: :) Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Margaret: I am a bit obsessive-compulsive. I edit, and edit, and edit, again. I am one of those people who finally has to say, “Stop it and just publish the thing!”
Morgen: Me too, although I gave up at round four of my 105K (originally 117K). Since then I have an editor so I do a couple of major edits, then it goes to her (because I know she’ll pull it apart) then I tweak it when it comes back (usually agreeing with most of what she’s suggested). How much research do you have to do for your writing? Have you ever received feedback from your readers?
Margaret: I have not had to do much research, yet. I would love to just stay in an old creepy house for a month, and type uninterrupted. I have received feedback! So far, the readers are thrilled and are asking when the next book will be ready!
Morgen: That’s got to be the feedback of all feedback. I had the same with my Story a Day May anthology; that the only downside to it was that it finished. :) What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Margaret: I go to my bedroom, sit in front of my computer, and dare the kids to interrupt me!
Morgen: :) Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Margaret: I prefer a computer.
Morgen: Some writers like quiet, others the noise of a coffee shop etc. Do you listen to music or have noise around you when you write or do you need silence?
Margaret: If it’s a journal, I want silence. If it’s a scary novel, I want dark, creepy gothic music. If it’s an angry part, I want angry rock music.
Morgen: :) What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Margaret: I very much like third person point of view. I’ve only tried second person with academic assignments.
Morgen: Do you use prologues / epilogues? What do you think of the use of them?
Margaret: I have used them for Triangle. I don’t know if I would do it every time. I think using them depends on the story. Sometimes prologues are necessary to set the stage. Likewise, epilogues sometimes are needed to let the reader have some closure.
Morgen: Most interviewees have said that it depends on the story and as you say, they should be used because they’re needed. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Margaret: I hope not, but that is very likely.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Margaret: My favourite aspect is seeing people enjoy something I created. My least favourite is getting interrupted while I’m trying to type.
Morgen: What has been your biggest surprise?
Margaret: The overwhelming positive reaction I’ve received from my readers. It’s humbling and astonishing for me, having produced my first piece.
Morgen: :) What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Margaret: Do what you want. We live in a technologically advanced state right now. Try to get a publisher. Try to get an agent. If that doesn’t work, then grab your project and just do it!
Morgen: I did. :) What do you like to read?
Margaret: I love a book that grips me and surprises me. My favourite authors are Stephen King and Frank Peretti.
Morgen: Not heard of Frank Peretti, I’ll have to check him out. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Margaret: “It is what it is”, usually uttered when a major appliance tears up or a car breaks down when I’m short on cash.
Morgen: Oh dear… What do you do when you’re not writing?
Margaret: I enjoy outdoor photography and travelling to the beach.
Morgen: I love the beach but live three hours away so don’t get there as often as I’d like. :( In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Margaret: I’m in the United States. I don’t find it a hindrance. With the Internet, there are no boundaries as far as I’m concerned.
Morgen: Indeed, isn’t it great. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Margaret: I am on Facebook. It has helped generate some publicity from my book, but not as much as my personal website.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your work?
Margaret: Speaking of! http://www.margaretfalcon.com
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Margaret: Financially, I have no idea. Creatively, the sky is the limit.
Morgen: That’s what excites me the most. :) If you could have your life over again, is there anything you’d have done differently.
Margaret: I would have published sooner.
Morgen: Oh me too but then perhaps there wouldn’t have been so many outlets, possibilities and connections (and I’d have had less life experience). Is there a question you’d like to ask me? :)
Margaret: How do you keep up with all these blogs? You’re amazing!
Morgen: <blushes> Thank you. Easy answer: not enough sleep. Complete picture: I’ve been a secretary since I left school so I can type quickly and am organised. I have a nerdy Word ‘matrix’ table that tells me when someone contacted me, who they are, their genre, when I sent them the info, when I then received the content, the date it’s going up, where they know me from (if I know that) and which country they’re based (this has been handy when I’ve wanted a lie in as someone from the US isn’t going to be awake at UK’s 7am, although I schedule everything in advance now so it gets posted 7am and 7pm then I can have a lie in (and a life) if I wish, and then email them when I’m at my computer (which is pretty much always). Oh and the lines are shaded different colours (green = spotlight, white = interview, grey = flash fiction Friday, blue = guest post, yellow = Monday night extras, pink = Sunday, so I can see how many weeks I have at a glance). So that’s my secret and yes, I did say “nerdy” didn’t I? :) Thank you again Margaret.
I then invited Margaret to include an extract of her writing and this is her prologue:
At a high school, a boy stood by a fence and watched a cheerleader at practice. She was the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen! Her skin was porcelain, her body petite. Pale blue eyes were framed by exquisitely long lashes. Her blonde hair appeared to be made of silk, and he wondered what it would feel like, wrapped around his hands.
Even though they shared some classes, and saw one another in the hallways, she didn’t even know he existed. She always had her arm wrapped around some jock. 
It wasn’t that he was unattractive. In truth, he was quite handsome. Maybe he was a little skinny, and not so much the athletic type, but he was blessed with lovely light brown skin, black wavy hair, and eyes of blue. 
Day after day, he pinned for this girl, and day after day, his heart was broken, as he was yet to be acknowledged by her.
One day, he overheard her talking with some friends.
“Karen, where are you going to college?”
“State.” she’d replied.
Later when posed with the same question, he answered, “State,” as well. 
Now as he stood by the fence, he brought his camera to his eyes and focused, waiting for the right time. It came when she leapt into the air, pom poms held high, hair flowing. The camera snapped, freezing the moment. It captured this, along with her beautiful smile.
He took the film and had the picture developed, then enlarged. He hung it in his bedroom, beside a weight machine, and began working on his plan. 
When they entered college in the fall, she would be his………………..
Margaret Falcon holds dual degrees in Criminal Justice and Internet Administration. Her passion for horror and mystery developed during the 80’s, prior to the computer generation. Her first draft for Triangle was composed on an electric IBM typewriter in a guardhouse, while she was working on her Criminal Justice degree.  Her poem, Death’s Kiss was published in ‘World of Poetry Anthology’.
In her spare time, she enjoys nature photography, and shopping for unique jewelry. She has even created her own pieces, using a process known as lost wax casting.
Margaret currently resides in the foothills of North Carolina, with her two children, Jacob, skateboard extraordinaire, and Sabrina, a Goth cartoonist, plus a motley collection of pets, which include a dog, two cats, one ferret, and a degu.
Triangle is her first novel. Margaret is currently working on her second novel, a collection of short horror stories titled, Wake the Dead. You can read Margaret’s author spotlight here.
***
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the questions. You complete them, I tweak them where appropriate (if necessary to reflect the blog ‘clean and light’ rating) and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know. :) You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also now read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.
Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them)
 :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

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