Saturday, May 27, 2017

0 Virginia Macgregor, author of WISHBONES, on writing with courage

Our wish was granted to be joined by Virginia Macgregor, who shares more about her latest novel, WISHBONES.

Virginia, what was your inspiration for writing WISHBONES?

It started with me reading a news story about a woman who was so obese that when she died she had to be lifted through her bedroom window by crane. This image really stayed with me and got my imagination whirring: I wondered who she was and what had happened to make her start eating – and keep eating, to the extent that she couldn’t leave her house. I wondered whether she had any friends or family and how they felt about her situation. I then started to craft the character of Feather and realized that the story should be told from her point of view: the view of a daughter who loves and cares for but is beginning to question who her mother really is.
What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

The opening scene is always the one I work hardest on: I feel it should act as a microcosm for the book as a whole. I also felt Feather’s distress at discovering her mother unconscious and how, in that moment, her life changed forever, which made writing the scene very emotional. For these reasons, the opening scene is also one I’m proud of. However, the scene at the end of the novel (spoiler alert) in which Feather’s mother finally comes out to face the village after Feather’s swimming race, is also one that means a great deal to me: I wanted to show how hard it was for Jo to do this, how brave she was but also what a wonderful moment it was for Feather and the whole community. This scene represents hope, which, for me, is what YA fiction is all about. As regards the scenes I love most, they are often the small, quirky scenes rather than the ‘big scenes’. The conversations between Feather and Jake in the empty Lido or Houdini escaping and Feather running after him. I love writing these everyday scenes in which my readers get to know my characters.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

Anything by Rainbow Rowell, Emery Lord, Robin Talley, Gae Polisner, John Green, Julie Murphy - and many more!

How long did you work on WISHBONES?

From initial writing to final edit, about a year.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

Write from the heart. Write about what matters to you. Write with courage.

What do you hope readers will take away from WISHBONES?

That no matter how messed up our families are and how difficult our lives, there is always hope.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

I’ve published three books for adults with Little, Brown (What Milo Saw, The Return of Norah Wells and Before You Were Mine), but I’ve always dreamt of writing for young adults, so publishing Wishbones was a dream come true. I only became a full-time writer in my thirties, mainly because, before that, I thought I had to have a ‘proper job’, so I never allowed myself to throw everything into following my dream of becoming a published writer. Then I met my husband and he told me to stop making excuses. I always say that he loved me into being a writer. We sometimes need someone we love, who knows and understands us, to help us have the courage to follow our dreams.

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

I found my voice when I was writing my first published novel ‘What Milo Saw’. Before that, I’d written novels that generated interest but never made it to the shelves. It was when I had the courage to write in a way that was true to how I saw the world, in a way that was unique to me, that publishers really began to take interest. Finding your voice as a writer sometimes takes time – and courage.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I love to write in public – so in coffee shops or, since I moved to America, in a gorgeous juice bar run by a friend in Concord, New Hampshire. Because my novels are rooted in contemporary life I find it helpful to surround myself with the buzz of everyday people living their everyday lives. I pick up so many ideas simply from eavesdropping on other people’s conversations! Walking is really important to me too. It helps me to untangle knots in my plot and to come up with new ideas. I try to walk a few miles every day.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Keep writing and honing your craft and trying new things until you find your voice. It’s a bit like tuning an instrument – you’ll suddenly hear a note that sounds right and you’ll know that you’ve found your way of telling your stories.

What are you working on now?

My second YA novel called ‘As Far As The Stars’. I won’t give too much away except to say that there’s a pretty awesome love story at the heart of it.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Wishbones
by Virginia Macgregor
Paperback
Harlequin Teen
Released 5/23/2017

Feather Tucker has two wishes:

1)To get her mum healthy again

2) To win the Junior UK swimming championships

When Feather comes home on New Year’s Eve to find her mother – one of Britain’s most obese women- in a diabetic coma, she realises something has to be done to save her mum’s life. But when her Mum refuses to co-operate Feather realises that the problem run deeper than just her mum’s unhealthy appetite.

Over time, Feather’s mission to help her Mum becomes an investigation. With the help of friends old and new, and the hindrance of runaway pet goat Houdini, Feather’s starting to uncover when her mum’s life began to spiral out of control and why. But can Feather fix it in time for her mum to watch her swim to victory? And can she save her family for good?

Purchase Wishbones at Amazon
Purchase Wishbones at IndieBound
View Wishbones on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Image result for virginia macgregor
Virginia Macgregor was brought up in Germany, France and England by a mother who never stopped telling stories. From the moment she was old enough to hold a pen, she set about writing her own, often late into the night – or behind her Maths textbook at school. Her maiden name is Virginia Woods: she was named after two great women, Virginia Wade and Virginia Woolf, in the hope she would be a writer and a tennis star. Virginia's early years were those of a scribbling, rain-loving child who prayed for lightning to strike her tennis coach.

After studying at Oxford, Virginia started writing regularly whilst working as an English Teacher and Housemistress. She writes contemporary fiction, rooted in family life. Through her fiction she addresses some of the most pressing social and ethical issues of our age. She loves to write from multiple points of view and her novels often include a child and a quirky animal (or two).

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Have you had a chance to read WISHBONES yet? Have you had the courage to quit your day job and become a full time writer? Have you allowed your friends and family to "love you into" a writer? At what point did you find your voice as a writer? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Emily, Jocelyn, Anisaa, Sam, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, and Lori Ann

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