Monday 16 June 2014

The Write Way with Maureen Doyle McQuerry

Today, I am really pleased to welcome author, Maureen Doyle McQuerry onto the blog, to answer questions about the way she writes.
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1) Time Out of Time recently published in the UK. What kind of reception have you received for this book?
It came out in the U.S. at the same time and was featured on the cover of Booklist and named one of their top ten children’s fantasies for the year. The reviews have been good, but I’d love to hear more from UK readers especially since the sequel takes place in… (spoiler) Scotland.
2) Being an experienced writer, do you find the process gets easier with each book you write?
Yes and no. Yes, because with each book I learn so much more as an author. I’m better at thinking my plots through now and I absolutely know stories are about the way events change characters. I don’t write myself into corners as much. But the process for each book is a bit different. Beyond the Door and the sequel, The Telling Stone, were conceived as three books originally and I had to find a way to make them into two. And with a series, you have an arc in each book, but also one for the series.
3) What kind of research did you need to carry out before writing Time Out of Time
I did so much research into Celtic mythology, myth in general,  and into the legends surrounding the Stone of Destiny.  I also needed to be familiar with Scotland, Edinburgh and Dunsinanne Hill. Thank goodness for Google Earth and notes from trip to Edinburgh many years ago. My greatest research break through came in an unexpected way. I came across a site Stravaiging Around Scotland  written by Andy Sweet who is a photographer and a mountain biker. The site is well developed now, but it was just starting out when I found it. I asked Andy a huge favour: would he be willing to cycle up Dunsinanne and take photos for me from several specific viewpoints. He sent me twenty or so photos! You never know what connections the research trail will lead to.
4) Do you try and aim for a daily word target when writing?
It depends where I am in my process. In the beginning when I’m just starting to figure things out and plotting, no. But as I get to the sticky middle, a word count forces me to keep going. And in the end, there is a rush to the finish and a word count helps there too. 
5) Do you edit as you go along or do you wait until the first draft is finished?
A little bit of both. I always read over the previous day’s work and edit a bit as I read. My critique partner edits and polishes every scene until it gleams before he moves on to the next. I don’t do that. But it means I have to do more rewrites at the end.
6) When is your ideal time to write? Morning, afternoon or evening?
Definitely mornings and then I often come back and add a bit more at night. In the afternoons, my attention falters and I need to get up and move.
7) Which authors inspired you whilst growing up?
So many and at different periods. I loved the children’s classics: Narnia, Little Women, The Borrowers, The Once and Future King. Then I read the Lord of the Rings series and my life was changed. I wanted to write like that. Susan Cooper and Jane Yolen reinforced my love of myth.  As I got older and serious about writing I fell for Joan Didion’s prose, Annie Dillard, James Agee and poetry! I came to writing fiction through poetry and I still love to read a poem a day.
I love atmospheric writing and some of the best comes from Great Britain!
Oh, and Dorothy Sayers. I’m a little bit in love with Peter Whimsey.
8) If you could have written any other book in the world, what would it be?
Again there are so many. I love the voice in I Capture the Castle , the whimsy in Peace Like a River, the way the landscape becomes a character in Winter’s Bone. But probably like the rest of the world, I’d say The Lord of the Rings series.
9) What are you working on right now?
My agent is shopping a YA adult suspense novel set in a near future Seattle that involves a mind link between two protagonists and mysterious Codex. It’s part mystery, part SciFi, part literary suspense.
And I’m polishing a two generation family saga set in 1919 New York and 1955 San Jose, CA. It’s literary fiction but still has a fairy tale thread. The story of Hansel & Gretel runs through it, the story of two children who survive against all odds.
10) What advice would you give unpublished authors?
“sheer plod makes plough down sillion Shine.” That’s from Hopkins “The Windhover.”  So much of the journey to publication is sheer plod, not quitting, showing up at the page every day. And call it fairy dust or serendipity, but put yourself in the way of luck. Make friends, go to conferences, join a critique group, be generous. It’s hard for luck to find you when you’re home alone with your computer.
time out of time beyond the door
Time out of Time is Maureen’s latest book to be published.
Book Summary
With his love of learning and the game of Scrabble, Timothy James feels like the only person who understands him is his older sister, Sarah, and he’s fairly certain nothing interesting will ever happen to him. But one night, while his parents and sister are away, the door opens, and mythical creatures appear in his own living room! Soon, a mystery of unparalleled proportions begins to unfold, revealing an age-old battle of Light against Dark, and Timothy must embark on a quest to prevent the Dark from controlling the future and changing the past. But he can’t complete the quest alone. Timothy has to team up with his sister and the school bully, Jessica, to face an ancient evil, and in the process, this unlikely trio discover they are each more than meets the eye.
To find out more about Maureen Doyle McQuerry:

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