Today I would like to welcome Margaret James onto the blog. As part of Margaret's blog tour and to celebrate the upcoming publication of The Golden Chain, Choc Lit are also giving you the chance to win a copy.
The Golden Chain is the second book in a trilogy which starts with The Silver Locket. The first novel tells the story of Dorset landowner's daughter Rose Courtenay, who falls in love with the local bad boy, Alex Denham. Rose's parents want her to marry a baronet's son. By the time Rose realises she is in love with Alex, he is already married to someone else. But Rose is the heroine of a romantic novel, so nothing is going to stop her following her heart and being with the man she loves!
The story opens in 1914 just as the Great War is about to turn everyone's lives upside down and change English society forever. When Rose's parents start putting even more pressure on her to marry a man she doesn't love, she runs away from home and goes to London. There, she becomes very incompetent volunteer nurse in a big London hospital. But she's a persistent and determined girl who eventually makes the grade, and she ends up working in France and Flanders, where she meets Alex again.
At the beginning of The Golden Chain, Rose and Alex are married to each other at last. It's 1931, and their fifteen-year-old adopted daughter Daisy looks all set to give her mother and father as much grief as Rose gave her own parents. Daisy wants to be an actress, and Rose is totally opposed to this, conveniently forgetting she defied her own parents fifteen years ago, and that defying parents is what children tend to do.
Daisy falls in love with aspiring actor Ewan Fraser, who is related to Alex's worst enemy. Then Daisy meets a sophisticated older man, and it looks as if she is going to break Ewan's heart. She's going to have to choose between two men, two families and two ways of life. She's not very good at making the right choices...
What inspired the story?
'Why don't you write about me?' asked Rose. As soon as I started writing about Rose, Alex Denham turned up and pointed out that although he had no money, hardly any prospects, and would soon be married to someone else, he loved Rose Courtenay, and he was the man Rose was going to love.
Had you always planned to write a trilogy?
When I first started Rose's story, I hadn't actually planned a trilogy. But it soon became obvious I had a very long novel here which would probably work best as a trilogy telling three love stories. When Rose and Alex finally got married, I couldn't let them go. I wanted to find out what happened to them and their children, so The Golden Chain was born.
So, although The Golden Chain is Daisy's and Ewan's story, and they are the hero and heroine, it continues Rose's and Alex's story, too. Daisy's birth mother comes back on the scene, and eventually Daisy has to choose between two families, two men, and two ways of life. She makes some wrong decisions, some very bad choices, and she breaks lots of promises. But she also grows up, and everything comes right in the end.
As a teacher of creative writing, do you have any top tips for aspiring writers?
I could write a book and one day I probably will! But right now I'll pass on a few things I wish I'd known when I was starting out myself.
If you want to write a novel and see it published, try to write with an ideal reader in mind, rather than just for yourself. I write romantic fiction, so my own readers are likely to be female, and I try to remember this when I'm creating my heroes, who need to be the sort of men most women could love.
Being a writer can be quite lonely, so maybe join some associations and organisations where you'll meet other authors. The Romantic Novelists' Association is a lifeline for writers of all kinds of women's interest fiction -http://www.rna-uk.org/. The Crime Writers' Association welcomes people writing crime, thriller and mystery fiction - http://www.thecwa.co.uk/. There's a great online chat forum on this link: http://www.writersnews.co.uk/writers_talkback/.
You're a writer, so words are the tools of your trade, and you need to learn how to use them effectively. If your spelling and grammar are a bit shaky, don't just hope for the best. Do something about it by taking a basic language skills course run by a local authority, or a distance learning such as those run by the London School of Journalism. Or perhaps get a trusted friend to read your work and tell you where you're going wrong.
New novelists are always being told to show, not tell. This means using action and dialogue to move the story forward and to reveal character - to show the characters acting in the story by dramatising what they do, rather than describing what happens from the author's own point of view.
What else do you have in the pipeline?
I'm the sort of writer who always has lots of projects in development. I have plans for a contemporary romance, a paranormal romance, a story set in the 1950s, and a new historical trilogy. I'm told all this doing-a-million-things-at-once is part of being a Gemini. But, first of all, I have to revise the next book in this current trilogy, in which the hero is one of Daisy's twin brothers, and the heroine is a completely new character.
Thank you for inviting me to be a guest blogger, Catherine - I've enjoyed it very much indeed.
Margaret is on Facebook and Twitter. She has a blog and website. Make sure you check them out.
The Silver Locket and The Golden Chain are published by Choc Lit.
If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning a copy of The Golden Chain answer the following question by leaving a comment below. Who is your favourite romantic heroine?
Answers by midnight on 25th April and the winner will be selected at random.