Today’s guest is Women’s Fiction debut author, Maggie Christensen, whose novel, ‘Band of Gold’ was released in April 2014 and will soon be available in paperback.
Hello Maggie, congratulations and welcome to Author’s Magic Moment!
What was the first story you ever wrote?
As far as I can recall it was a short story for a magazine competition I entered as a child and it was called The Snow Drift. I loved what we called ‘composition’ in class but never seemed to have long enough to finish the story!
Of all the individuals you have created, do you have a particular favourite? What appeals to you the most about this character?
I love Anna in Band of Gold, but I think my favourite is Jenny from my next book The Sand Dollar. I like her because she reminds me a bit of myself. She’s a perfectionist, very controlled and needs to learn to take life as it comes and become more flexible.
You write about more mature protagonists. How is this different from the majority of women’s fiction, which seems to focus on thirty-forty somethings?
I choose to write about older women because as an ‘older’ woman myself, these are the sort of books I enjoy reading. Life for older women presents similar and different challenges to their younger counterparts. They still look for a HEA, but theirs may include stepchildren – even teenage stepchildren – and ex partners with their attendant issues. I can also explore those issues which only emerge with years. Issues such as aging and death of parents, retrenchment, retirement, downsizing, grown children, grandchildren, widowhood and the empty nest syndrome.
Anna is in her late forties. She has had a busy and happy marriage and career and her daughter, at twenty-two, is in the throes of her first serious relationship. Anna’s life is following the traditional pattern. Then, on Christmas morning, her husband places his wedding ring on the kitchen table and walks out. The book, written in first person present tense, takes the reader into Anna’s shoes as she deals with what follows.
Has being published changed you at all? If so, how?
Yes! Suddenly my writing and all the associated tasks of being published have become much more of a priority. Also it’s pretty wonderful to have people reading what I’ve written and actually enjoying it. I find myself enmeshed in a wonderful community of writer and readers – my idea of heaven.
What would we find on your bookshelf / e-reader?
Currently I’m reading Jenn J McLeod’s Simmering Season. I’m loving it and was fortunate enough to be in Coffs Harbour on the day Jenn was doing book signing so got to finally meet her and had both of her books signed. My bookshelf holds books by many of my favourite authors including but not restricted to Liz Byrski, Helene Young, Marcia Willett, Joanna Trollope, Erica James, Barbara Delinsky, Elizabeth George, Sue Grafton, Caro Frazer – the list could go on and on.
What’s the most unappealing thing you’ve ever eaten?
Can I have two? Tripe and cod’s roe. When I was a student, three of us flatted together and took turns at cooking. One of my friends found cheap meals to cook which were not necessarily appetising – tripe and cod’s roe were two of her favourite offerings.
If you could be any of the following characters for one day, who would you be and why? How would you re-write the ending?
a) Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind.
b) Thelma or Louise from Thelma and Louise.
c) Princess Leia from Starwars.
d) Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffanys.
Holly Golightly because she looked so elegant. I can’t forget Audrey Hepburn in the movie. My ancient copy of the book has her on the cover in her small black dress, hair elegantly on top of her head, with a long cigarette holder in her hand. I would give her a happier ending with Holly knowing that the cat was safe and, as the narrator hopes, having arrived where she belonged, preferably with her soulmate. She would finally have found what was hers before she threw it away.
Of all the books in history, which do you wish you wrote and why?
Any of Jane Austen’s, of course, but preferable Pride and Prejudice.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
I can’t image as I’m not into superpowers.
If you could go back in time, where would you go and when? What is one thing you would want to take with you?
I’d go back to Regency England as I love the fashions and I’d have to take my husband with me as I couldn’t survive without him.
Can you tell us about your works in progress?
My next book, The Sand Dollar, will be published before the end of the year. It is book 1 of my Oregon Coast books.
An unexpected redundancy and a childhood memento take Jenny Sullivan across the ocean to learn a long hidden secret and embark on a journey of self-discovery such as she’d never envisaged. Moving between Oregon and Australia, The Sand Dollar is a story of new beginnings, of a woman whose life is suddenly turned upside down and the reclusive man who helps her solve the puzzle of her past
I’m currently working on Book 2 of the series, The Dreamcatcher, which follows one of the minor characters from The Sand Dollar. While the Sand Dollar moves between the Sunshine Coast of Australia and Oregon, The Dreamcatcher is set solely in Oregon. My mother-in-law lives there so I have lots of opportunities for research.
Finally, can you give us a sneaky excerpt from Band of Gold, please?
‘I don’t want to be married anymore.’
The band of gold, symbol of our twenty-five years of marriage lies on the table between us. I am stupefied, unable to speak. Tears prick my eyes as my first coffee of the day grows cold beside me. The sun is shining brightly through the kitchen window. The turkey is sitting on the kitchen bench waiting to be cooked. My parents, daughter, brother and sister, along with her husband and children are due to arrive in five hours’ time. The house is redolent with the scent of pine needles and Christmas pudding. It’s Christmas morning and my world has collapsed.
‘What do you mean?’ I finally utter, thinking this must be Sean’s idea of a bad joke. My mouth goes dry. My head begins to spin. The bottom has dropped out of my world. I look over at the man I have loved for over twenty-five years, his bushy greying blonde hair, his ruddy cleanshaven cheeks. He looks no different from any other morning. He’s wearing the bright yellow tee shirt we bought on our holiday in Bali last year.
His steely blue eyes meet mine. This isn’t happening.
‘I can’t do this anymore, Anna.’ His waving arms take in the kitchen including me, ‘All this; family, house, job. I need to get away.’
He pushes his chair back from the table and strides out of the kitchen. I sit there in a daze, my mind going round in circles. Is it too late to call off Christmas lunch? How can I even think of such a thing? Does Sean mean he’s going to leave right now? How will I explain his absence? God, this is really going to be the Christmas from Hell.
Maggie is kindly giving away one e-copy (from Amazon) of Band of Gold to one lucky reader. All you have to do to be in the draw is leave a comment for Maggie!
If you’d like to connect with Maggie, you can do this via: