Despite being a stickler for punctuality, Marguerite arrived very late to the world of writing for a living. Inexplicably, it took her many years of training to be a lawyer, impersonating an IT Consultant and studying history before she realised that none of these could hold a candle to sitting around in her pyjamas crafting the odd elegant phrase while sipping herbal tea.
Marguerite’s go-to activities to avoid writing are dressmaking, eating what she grows, trying not to grow after she eats (aka doing Jillian Michaels workouts) and the traditional hedonistic distractions of doing the ironing and cleaning the bathroom.
A classically-trained ballerina and virtuoso cellist, tall and willowy Marguerite would like to remind everyone that she makes things up for a living. Scotland is where she lives, but France is her spiritual home.
Questions Marguerite Gets Asked
How did you get into writing?
I’ve always written, I just didn’t get paid for it (not an awful lot has changed). I wrote bedtime stories and poems when I was wee for my six younger siblings. I religiously kept a tear-stained and angst-ridden teenage diary. My first attempt at a Mills&Boon Presents involved a downtrodden market-gardener heroine and a masterful Highland laird who needed mulching. There was a memorable scene in a potting shed. Mills&Boon sent me a lovely rejection letter, which I still have. One of my other passions is history. Cue lightbulb moment one day when I put the two together, and Marguerite the historical romance author was born.
What’s your typical writing day like?
It very much depends on where I am with a manuscript. If I’m just finished one, then I loll about reading other people’s books, maybe take a day out to go walking or cycling, or just generally faff about. If I’m just started, I’m all enthusiastic, though more about the research than the writing, and tell myself I need lots of plotting walks and cycles. But when I’m finally in the writing zone, I roll out of bed at the crack of dawn, scoff a bowl of branflakes, make a pot of coffee and write and write and write. And delete and delete and delete. And sigh a lot.
What’s the hardest thing about writing?
Knowing that either at the end of 10 thousand words or Chapter Three, I’ll have an epiphany about the story, rip it up and start again. And knowing that when my amazing Editor comes back after an early read of about 25 thousand words, I’ll take her sage but gentle suggestions and turn them into a total rewrite. You can listen to Orange Juice singing my writing theme tune on YouTube here.
Are any of your characters based on real people?
The politically correct answer is absolutely not. The true answer is that some are like a pick and mix of everyone I know with extra character traits thrown in. Some are a very exaggerated version of people I (mostly) heartily dislike. Some are people I’d like to be. And some really are just completely made up.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Never buy a book titled ‘How to Become a Published Author’ or anything similar. Just start writing.
About being a writer
There are no images of you out there. Have you got something to hide or are you just painfully shy?
Fortunately, I didn’t become an author in search of fame or fortune, and consider being able to write books for others to enjoy reward enough. (If my publisher is reading this please take that last remark with an enormous pinch of salt). The serious answer is that I am not a writer – I am a person who writes. I prefer to keep the two separate.
So what is your attitude to reviews, then?
It means there’s somebody out there at the other end of my work, which is fantastic. Reviewers have the right to say whatever they like. I’m grateful to everyone who takes the time and trouble to read my books and to share their thoughts, whether they are good, bad or indifferent. Which isn’t to say criticism doesn’t sting. But that’s why vodka martini was invented.
About Being Marguerite
Is it true you’re named after a cocktail and a famous Edinburgh pub?
Darned tooting I am. I did toy with Fabreze Wickes (meaning I’d be named after an air freshener and a chain of DIY stores) but I felt it important to be true to myself.
What are your guilty pleasures?
Watching snooker on tv, Twiglets, sherry.
What’s your idea of the perfect evening?
I refer you to my previous answer.
Tell us five random facts about yourself
1 I loathe slugs, but snails are one of my favourite foods to eat.
2 I can still do the splits, sometimes even intentionally
3 I have a terrible memory for faces. I once sat opposite my brother on the tube for ten minutes before I recognised him. (He did recognise me. He just didn’t want to talk to me.)
4 I have a matching pen for every different notebook I use. Currently that’s five of each. I personally don’t find that excessive and am currently considering a sixth.
5 I own fourteen Jillian Michaels workout DVDs. And I actually do use all of them.