Author Interview with Maggie Spence of ‘Vardin Village’

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George is just a regular teenager living in a small, quaint town except he’s broke, nearly homeless and his mom took off with her loser boyfriend. It takes a village to raise a child but not so much when you have to keep it a secret and the bully quarterback hates your guts.
Today I’m catching up for the second time with the author Maggie Spence. Today we’re discussing her novel the ‘Vardin Village’ and we’re also going to have a quick fire round of questions that we didn’t get to in our last catch-up.
Maggie, let’s start looking at today’s discussion at the start of ‘Vardin Village’. What seeded this novel?
I think every small town owns some random mansion left to the people by a well-meaning philanthropist. My town has three. Some are museums, some get turned into community centers or wedding venues and there’s always history left by the family who once lived there. I started wondering what would happen if surviving descendants had any rights or dug up some claim to the property. I also wanted to tell a story about how many kids are brought up by a village. Hence, Vardin Village.
That’s an intriguing combination of ideas. How did you go about melding them together? Did you focus your research on these mansions in your town?
Oh, yes. I learned so much about my village and the many people who made it the great place it is today.
Did you also try and incorporate your experiences with your local mansions into the chain of events?
How can you not?
When you were researching these local landmarks, you must have found out a copious amount of information about the people who built, own and donated these properties. Did you use these people from history as the basis for any of the characters, or did you develop the roles develop in other ways?
They are people that we all know.
Did you feel a strong connection with any of your characters?
I really related to Maria.
Would you socialise with Maria or another one of your characters like going out on a date or beer with them if they came to life?
I’d go out with the new family but it would be for coffee or ice-cream.
For you personally, what felt like the most worthwhile facet of writing this book?
It was a good feeling when I thought of all the people who raised me.
Did it take long to complete?
Two years!
Now we didn’t do my favourite part of the interview, the Quick Fire Round last time we met, so I’d like to see your fast firing opinions this time around.
What is your favourite quote?
“Dread fifty above more than fifty below…”
How do you feel about the future of reading/ writing and publishing?
Great! So many options and channels.
Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
Chill.
If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?
I don’t mess with nature!
Can you stand on your hands unassisted?
No.
If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
Cancer from everyone who has it.
Can you curl your tongue?
No.
Which are cooler? Dinosaurs or Dragons?
Dinosaurs for sure.
What’s the most unusual name you’ve ever come across?
Maynard Nussbaum.
What is your favourite word?
Obstreperous.
Good pick for a final word. Maggie, I’d like to thank you for being so generous with your time yet again and allowing me to pick your brains about your books and writing. Good luck with your promotion of ‘Vardin Village’, and I hope to catch up with you again in the future.

 

Want to connect with Maggie?  You can find her here:

Author Interview with Maggie Spence of ‘The Johnson Project’

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Imagine a world where no one can get pregnant unless they qualify to be a parent.

 

Today I’m sitting down with Maggie Spence to discuss her novel, ‘The Johnson Project’. Maggie, thanks for joining me today. I’d like to kick off today’s interview by discussing the image or concept that drove you to start working on this tale.
I think we’ve all read the heartbreaking stories of child abuse and wondered why some people are allowed to procreate. I started thinking about what that world would like like and The Johnson Project was born. No pun intended.

 
So, the main idea that you were trying to address or challenge was the idea of ‘suitability for parenthood’. Other than this main question, did you try to consciously include other themes into the story?
Themes have a way of worming their way into every story whether you want them or not.

 
Your main underlying idea of this book really brings about many questions and nuances that you no doubt would have run across during the process of writing? Did you feel like you needed to undertake much research in order to support the story?
Tons! I learned so much about human rights around the world. I should say the LACK of human rights especially when it comes to children. The research was difficult and discouraging. As an American, I’m pretty cocooned in my first world life.

 
Despite being cocooned by your first world life, did you still have any life experiences that you drew on?
Yes. I’ve been through the adoption process and I know the anxiety that goes with it. So many good people out there that have to jump through hoops to adopt a baby, while worldwide, there are millions starving, being mistreated or growing up in heartless situations.

 
Have you used your personal experiences or personality as a basis for the characters in the book, or did they come to you in another way?
Its not about the characters so I made them kind of plain old people. But they all have issues and back stories like most of us.

 
As your main emphasis wasn’t on the characters, did you still develop a strong enough connection with some that made them your favourites to write?
I love Ted but I related more to Audrey.

 
If your characters could come to life, is there any ones that you would like to socialise with?
The whole crazy Johnson family. That would be a party.

 
That does like it could be fun. With the combination on such strong questions and themes within the book it feels like you probably took quite a while to complete. How long did it take for you to write the book?
Ten years, believe it or not. I abandoned it a few times.

 
So, when you were writing did you use any specific techniques to help with your productivity?
I write when I have the chance.

 
How do you write?
I use Word on my laptop.

 
Do you have any tips for other writers?
Edit.

 
As your top tip, you must have a good technique for editing your own books. How do you edit? Did you try to do a significant amount of the editing?
I read it over and over until I can’t stand it anymore then I let my mom read it.

 
Once you had the book written and edited, what steps did you take to make sure that your book cover matched the story?
I bought a stock photo from Shutterfly and spent hours on Publisher trying to add the title.

 
And then finally you had your writing, cover completed and uploaded to Amazon and then you got your first review. Do you remember how you felt when you read this feedback?
Great! But then the bad ones come in and it hurts but I’ve gotten used to it.

 
Do you find reading reviews the most gratifying part of writing, or are you pleased by something else?
Finishing it!

 
And now that you’ve finished this book, have you started working on your next writing project?
I working on a cozy hometown kind of mystery.

 
Good luck with your new mystery. Are you favourite authors mystery writers too? And, do you think that they had an impact on your writing?
I love Stephen King so much! He has influenced me more than any other author. I adore Anne Rice and look up to her so much for all she has been through and her amazing talent and kindness.

 
Are you currently reading a mystery?
Yes, The Coldest Fear (A Jack Murphy Thriller) by Rick Reed

 
And when you were little was your favourite thing to read?
Every Nancy Drew book ever written!

 
Who is your favourite literary character?
Ebeneezer Scrooge.

 
And the final question for today, Is there a book that you wish that you would have written?
I loved and admired Patriot Games. It would never work now in the current political climate but it was unputdownable for me.
Thank you again Maggie for joining me today and I’d like to wish you the best of luck with your promotion of ‘The Johnson Project’ and your progress with your upcoming mystery work. And I’ll just let our readers know that this is not the last that they will see of Maggie, I will also be catching up with her shortly to discuss one of her other books ‘Vardin Village’.

 

Want to connect with Maggie?  You can find her here: