As a blogger and author, I meet people from all over the world. Sometimes, I meet a fellow author online who makes me laugh hysterically and we instantly connect. A few weeks ago, I met Maggie Le Page and had that experience. She’s bubbly, outgoing and made water squirt through my nose. (Seriously, that’s one of the reasons why our desktop computer died). LOL! She’s from New Zealand and I knew I HAD to have her on my blog! So without further ado, here’s Maggie:
WRITING QUESTIONS . . .
What book do you wish you could have written?
Hunger Games. Oh, how I wish I could’ve thought up something that amazing! I’ve tried to write dark or dystopian, but it never ends well. As in, it ends happily, usually with my heroine finding her hero, and herself to boot. So yeah, colour me green over the Hunger Games trilogy. sighs
Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you?
For years I’ve been a fan of Chick Lit. Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes, JoJo Moyes, Carole Matthews, Catherine Alliott . . . For me, great Chick Lit is all about tongue in cheek humour, a gripping story, a suitably happy ending and, through it all, an effortless read. Of course, when I started writing it myself I quickly learned just how much effort it takes to produce an ‘effortless’ read. Another inspiration for me was James Patterson and his short, sharp, cliffhanger chapters; as a busy mum I prefer short chapters (I hate having to put a book down halfway through a chapter), so I try to incorporate that into my writing, too.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
Names are ridiculously important to me! I find it difficult to write about a character until I have their name worked out. For me, it’s all about cadence—goodness knows why—and I’ve been known to spend days searching for a name that has just the right ring to it. Trawling the web, jotting down options, reading them out loud, trying out first and last name combinations, trying out hero and heroine name combinations . . . you name it, I’ve done it. Sometimes I even resort to name definitions in the hope something will jump out at me. laughs nervously Actually, I’m a bit of a nutcase with names.
Are you a plotter or a pantster?
Can I say a bit of both? 😉 I definitely have a pantsing streak, and sometimes scenes take unexpected turns when characters don’t do or say what I intended—which is exciting! Weirdly, those ideas often come when I’m taking a shower. On the other hand, I also like the structure and efficiency plotting can provide. At the very least I try to draw up a rough roadmap of the story, to keep me focused on the end goal. I think I’m becoming more plotter-ish with each book I write.
Do you have a favorite spot to write? What is it?
I do! It’s a window seat in my living room. It looks out on our garden (unkempt, but garden-ish nevertheless) and is drenched in sunlight—which is actually quite inconvenient because it makes me squint as I type. And the seat itself is fairly uncomfortable so I have to prop myself up with pillows, but I still end up with a numb backside and tingling toes. And it’s quite a narrow window seat so I’ve been known to knock my cup of tea all over the laptop—and me. Um. Remind me again why I like to sit there?
What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?
Hands down, it’s the final proofread before publication. The writing’s done, the editing’s done, and it’s just a matter of picking up those pesky little one-letter errors before it goes to print. It’s not difficult; it’s just the final step, and a laborious one. I detest it. (But I love love love the next bit, which is seeing the final product, so I put up with that despicable final proofread.)
AND THE “OTHER” QUESTIONS . . .
Do you write naked?
Er—no. And given I’m sitting here in mid-winter chill, with my fingers and toes literally going numb with the cold, naked is not high on my agenda right now. Nuh-uh. No way. Not gonna happen.
What is your biggest failure?
We all feel like failures at one point or other—I know I sure do, and especially with my writing. I spend most of my time convinced my writing is utter crud. But my Biggest Failure (cue capital letters) is that I’m really not great at being a stay-at-home mum. I quickly worked out it wasn’t for me. And even though I love my kids to bits and am immensely proud of them and would give anything for their happiness, it still doesn’t stop me feeling woefully, painfully, head-bangingly, unutterably bored when I’m doing nothing but undiluted mum-stuff all day. I’m probably going to Hell for this.
Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
I once did a Really Bad Thing. It was Friday night and we had drinks at work and it had been a hard week and we were on a roll . . . In my defence, it was waaaaaay past my bedtime and I was verrrrrrrry drunk and I was seriously egged on by my work colleagues . . . I wrote a note to our boss. Not our office boss; our Big Boss. And I told BB just what a terrible specimen of humanity he was and how badly he was treating clients and how badly we all felt having to work for him and . . . Gosh, I forget what I wrote, but it wasn’t my most shining moment (though it was perhaps the start of my writing career). Then we all delivered it to his office and staggered home to our beds.
The next day the BB descended, all hellfire and brimstone. But it soon became apparent he didn’t know who wrote the note. To my shame, I didn’t own up. We were all interrogated. Fingers were pointed, but not at me—and still I didn’t own up. I was young, very young, but I should’ve owned up and taken the job loss as a lesson learned. I’ve refused to ever be cowardly at work again. And I’ve made it a policy to never—ever—let Friday night work drinks get the better of me. (I can’t believe I just told you that.)
Do you drink? Smoke? What’s your vice?
I don’t smoke—being forced by a babysitter to take my first puff aged just nine put paid to that. (She never came back. Funny that.) But I do admit I’m partial to a glass or two of wine. Only good wine, thanks—after being practically teetotal for seven years when I was a) pregnant, b) breastfeeding, and c) getting up to the kids every night (nobody warns you about that, do they?) there’s not enough years left for mediocre wine.
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
The United States! I’ve done a fair bit of travel, and somehow, for no particular reason, it’s never been to the States. BUT!!!! I’m about to rectify that. And soon! In September this year I’ll be winging my way to Los Angeles, meeting up with some American Chick Lit writer pals, and heading to Palm Springs for the annual InD’Tale conference. #excitedmuch #squee I can’t wait! It’s a fantastic reader/writer event and I’m beyond excited to be attending!
What do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?
ponders whether this will make her seem crazy When I was a kid I used to have this really weird dream. In it I was like a female version of The Greatest American Hero (remember him?) (guess that ages me!), in that I could fly—except I was always flying to get away from someone who was chasing me, rather than flying to someone’s rescue! The problem was, just like The Greatest American Hero, I sucked at flying. And I didn’t improve, no matter how many times I had the damn dream. I was forever struggling to gain height, with my belly bouncing along the ground as I attempted to get airborne. If I did manage to take to the air, inevitably a tree/building/etc would appear in my flight path and I couldn’t veer away and would hit it and go plummeting back to ground level again. Occasionally, that dream still recurs. I have no idea what it means, except that I shouldn’t enter any birdman contest.
Book Title: The Trouble With Dying
Author Name: Maggie Le Page
Genre: Chick Lit Suspense
When Faith Carson wakes up on a hospital ceiling looking down on her body in a coma, it’s a bad start to the week. A very bad start. She has no idea who she is or how she got there or why, and the biggest mystery of all is why she married the schmuck who wants her ventilator switched off.
As if that’s not enough Faith has a dead gran haunting her, a young daughter missing her, and one devilishly delicious man making her wish she could have a second chance at life. And maybe she can, if she finds a way back into her body and wakes up by Friday. But if she doesn’t, this will be her last bad week—ever.
Nate Sutherland decided long ago he’d settle for friendship if he couldn’t have Faith’s heart. But now, as she nears death, he’s going to have to listen to his feelings in a whole new way—and act. Because if he doesn’t, this week will be the worst damn week of his life. He’ll lose everything he’s ever loved.
Exclusive Excerpt (up to 800 words):
Nate pauses, considering.
“It’s the little things. Your smile. Those random text messages and photos you send me. That over-achieving competitive streak of yours . . . Yeah, God knows why I miss that, but I do. I just . . .” He shrugs. “I miss you.”
He takes the lid off his takeaway cup and contemplates the coffee.
“Funny,” he says to his coffee, “Ma always said ‘Have faith in Faith’. Exactly the kind of bullshit comment she liked to make. But that one was one of her faves, especially after we . . .”
He inhales deeply, holds, exhales. “. . . Well. She kept repeating it, over and over, for years. Drove me nuts. That and all her other spooky, séance-y mumbo jumbo.”
He sighs, and it seems to drag all the way from his toes. “You know what she’s like. Nothing’s changed. But hon, just for the record, I always did have faith in you. You know that, right? So whatever’s going on in that body and that contrary little head of yours right now, don’t give up. You can’t give up. We need . . . I need you.”
He clears his throat. Drops his chin to his chest. Pauses, then adds, voice low, “Just hurry up and get better, okay?”
In the silence that follows, he drains his coffee. Chuckles. “At least you don’t argue when you’re in a coma.”
The C-word trills along my veins. My scalp tightens, lifting the hairs on my head.
I turn to Gran, and this time she doesn’t avoid my gaze or change the subject or dissolve. I have her full attention.
“A coma.” I force the word through stiff lips. “I’ve left my body.”
Apprehension squeezes the air from my lungs. “Oh God. I really am dying.”
“Hogwash. You’re not even close. You’re very much alive. And that’s the way you’re going to stay if I have anything to do with it.”
But does she have anything to do with it? Whatever’s going on here, it’s all a bit Secret Squirrel for my liking.
Nate drains his coffee and shuffles closer to the bed. “Did you see Tess’s card? It’s special.”
He glances at the bedside table, where an enormous card sits in pride of place, outflanking all the others. I strain to see it, but it’s facing the wrong way.
“She misses you.”
Tess. The name doesn’t spark any memories, but I’m getting used to that.
Nate reaches for Faith-in-the-bed’s hand, clasping it in his, and the shock of his touch fizzes through me, so intense I can almost feel it.
My breath hitches. I can feel it. I watch as he touches his lips to her hand, and I’m feeling it.
Gran raises an eyebrow. “Well, now. That’s useful.”
Useful? I feel like I’ve won the freaking Lottery.
I turn to her, elated. Then suspicion takes over. “You read my mind?”
Her expression is all wide-eyed innocence, but I’m not fooled. “How did you—?”
She pointedly turns her gaze on Nate. “Ssh.”
“You know what I love about arguing with you, Pixie?” He brings Faith-in-the-bed’s hand up to his cheek and the gentle rasp of stubble comes through to my own hand. I shiver. Heat floods my cheeks. It feels so . . . intimate. In a good way. The sort of good way you don’t want your dead Gran in the room for.
“We get to make up.” Nate kisses her fingertips, and sparks of heat flicker deep in my belly.
It’s weird. I’m watching this man touch Faith-in-the-bed but, ventriloquist-style, I’m feeling it all. This must be how it is for babies when they first work out the baby in the mirror is them.
Only way more sensual.
Then I remember Gran and my body heats again, but this time it’s in a totally un-sensual, frying-with-embarrassment way. She’s witnessing all of this. Worse, she’s probably reading my mind as it happens. I blush so hard even my bones are burning.
Gran’s lips twitch. She coughs discreetly. “I’ll make myself scarce.”
A moment later she dissolves.
Nate’s thumb, meanwhile, softly strokes Faith-in-the-bed’s. Mine. My pulse kicks up. Intimate heat arrows straight to my core. Embarrassment forgotten, Gran forgotten, I hold my breath and close my eyes, focusing in on that tiny sensation. My thoughts scramble. If this is what a mere echo of his touch can do to me then, please God, let me back in my body. I want to feel it first-hand.
Maggie lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her life leans toward chaotic, with writing time often losing out to kidstuff, home stuff and part-time work. Being a ditz comes naturally to Maggie, so she has no trouble writing her characters into embarrassing situations. No surprise, then, that she writes chick lit—albeit with serious undertones.
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