Seven Questions: Margaret Locke

I’m happy to welcome Margaret Locke to my blog for her third round of Seven Questions. Her latest book is The Demon Duke, a Regency romance with an unusual hero.

As a teen, Margaret pledged to write romances when she was older. Once an adult, however, she figured she ought to be doing grownup things, not penning stories. Thank goodness turning forty cured her of that silly notion.

Now happily ensconced again in the clutches of her first crush (romance novels!), Margaret is never happier than when sharing her passion for a grand Happy Ever After. Because love matters.

Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fabulous kids, and three fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window); she’s come to terms with the fact she’s not an outdoors person.

 Read on to learn more!

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1-Margaret, this is your fourth book. Wow! How has your book-writing process changed between Book 1 and Book 4?

I’d like to think I’ve gotten better. Each book has actually proven a quite difference experience:

A Man of Character I plotted out and wrote and re-wrote for four years before publishing it.

A Matter of Time I drafted as a NaNoWriMo project (my first!) in the middle of working on A Man of Character, but I took a year after the first book’s publication to tinker with the second.

I’d written a draft during my second NaNo of what I thought would be book three in the series (what evolved into The Demon Duke), only to realize a different story needed to come first. So, for the first time, I wrote, edited, re-edited, re-edited, and finished a novel, A Scandalous Matter, in six months. I don’t think that’s something I care to repeat – at least not while I still have kids at home!

For The Demon Duke, as I said, I had a draft, but I took more time to hone it, and ended up changing a fair amount, as my skills in writing (or at least my knowledge of better practices) had increased.

Now I find myself back at the drawing board, no complete drafts in my pocket – but I think I have a better sense now of what works and doesn’t work. Though they take time, character sketches, timelines, spreadsheets listing names and characteristics, and loose outlines work much better for me than winging it.

 

2-Which phase of the book process do you enjoy most and why?

 Definitely writing the initial draft. Everything feels new and fun, and I’m convinced I’m hilarious and this book is awesome and everything is perfect.

Until I re-read it. Until my editor reads it and sends me back revisions. The editing phase is not my favorite (read: nails on a chalkboard / chocolate-deprivation level dislike), BUT I’m learning to look forward to the final edits, as I’ve seen the story morph from “best EVER!” through “this totally sucks, who am I kidding?” to “maybe it’s not so bad after all.”

And getting the print copy in the mail is one of the best feelings there is, hands-down. It all feels real then.

 

3-Novels are a tough form, time-consuming and sometimes underappreciated in the world. What keeps you motivated?

Guilt and fear. What, that’s not a good answer? Okay, the characters bugging me in my head, the readers asking for more stories, the pleasure of that first draft – and guilt and fear.

Guilt, because if I’m not working on a book, I’m often wasting vast amounts of time on things like Facebook and Two Dots (okay, yeah, I admit – I do that even when I am working on a book!).

Fear, because what would I do if I didn’t do this? As someone with almost a PhD (I did everything but finish the dissertation) in medieval history from twenty years ago, what marketable skills do I have now?

But also love.

Because love matters. Love stories matter. And I truly do love writing them. Yes, it’s hard work. I still have a lot to learn, still have great ways in which to improve. But when my own eyes well up, my own giggles escape, my own heart aches at a scene I’ve written? When readers tell me they love my books? When I realize I get to do something I love as my job? That’s what truly keeps me going.

That, and chocolate.

 

4-Do your book ideas arrive in your head in a particular way? As images, as opening scenes or sentences, as characters, as conflicts? Tell us a little about idea generation, brainstorming, and how you come up with a story? Once you have an idea, what are the next steps?

 It varies. For A Man of Character, it was the opening question, What would you do if you discovered the men you were dating were fictional characters you’d created long ago?, that launched the whole thing. From that question, I mused on what kind of men someone would fantasize about at different points in their life, etc., and sketched out a story.

I think characters come to mind first, and then I imagine what might befall them, or who might suit them best. For example, Amara, the heroine from A Scandalous Matter, evolved as a reaction of sorts against my first two heroines. Both Cat from A Man of Character and Eliza from A Matter of Time were rather circumspect in their sexual attitudes and behaviors. I decided I needed a female character more driven by physical pleasure, and along came Amara.

For The Demon Duke, I knew what his affliction would be, and I knew who his physical inspiration was (Ian Somerhalder of Vampire Diaries fame). From there, I brainstormed on how his struggles might shape his life—and his reaction to love.

I’ve sketched story ideas out in great detail and I’ve done a more pantser approach where I make up everything as I go along. I’ve learned I do best when I let ideas percolate in my head and then eventually write them all down and plot things out. I do tend to have different ideas about different books pop into my head at any given time, though. I guess those characters don’t always care that I’d like to proceed in clear, linear fashion, thank you very much!

 

5-You have been recruited as an experimental space traveller. You are allowed to bring only what you can carry in a small backpack. What do you pack?

 May I bring along Hermione’s Bag of Holding? In which I could stuff, you know, a T.A.R.D.I.S.? No? Well, then, I suppose I’d want a camera with a massive amount of storage, water, pain meds, chocolate, a Kindle, battery chargers, a pen, paper, and a cat.

 

6-It turns out that your experimental space ship has malfunctioned, and instead of traveling through space, you’re traveling through time. What era/year will be your desired destination? And why?

I knew you were going to do that to me! I certainly would like to visit Regency England, to see if it was anything at all like the society we read about in novels (both Austen and modern romances), but tops on my list would be ancient Rome. I’d really love to see it in its heyday. I’d also want to visit Charlemagne’s court, and that of Otto the Great, and go back to learn who built Stonehenge and why, and zip off to Renaissance Italy, and maybe colonial America.

But I think I’d want to be like Scrooge – just popping in and out, invisible. Because a) I wouldn’t want to mess up history, and b) I’m really fond of air conditioning, and I’d eventually run out of chocolate.

 

7-Tell us a bit about your next book (or books)?

 Next up is The Legendary Duke, the second in my Put Up Your Dukes Regency series, based loosely on the Arthurian legend of Gawain and the Green Knight. It’s been years – since grad school days – that I’ve studied Arthurian lore, so I’m really looking forward to that, especially since the third book in the series, The Once and Future Duke, also has Arthurian connections, as you might have guessed from the title.

Oh, and somewhere in there, I want to write book four in the Magic of Love series. Because Sophie Mattersley needs her story told.

Thanks so much for hosting me, Emily!

Learn more about Margaret on her website: http://margaretlocke.com

Get The Demon Duke now on Amazon or at other outlets:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Kobo

The-Demon-Duke-Kindle

Behind every good man is a great secret.

Banished to Yorkshire as a boy for faults his father failed to beat out of him, Damon Blackbourne has no use for English society and had vowed never to return to his family’s estate at Thorne Hill, much less London. However, when his father and brother die in a freak carriage accident, it falls on Damon to take up the mantle of the Malford dukedom, and to introduce his sisters to London Society–his worst nightmare come to life.

He never planned on Lady Grace Mattersley. The beautiful debutante stirs him body and soul with her deep chocolate eyes and hesitant smiles. Until she stumbles across his dark secret.

Bookish Grace much prefers solitude and reading to social just-about-anything. Her family may be pressuring her to take on the London Season to find herself a husband, but she has other ideas. Such as writing a novel of her own. But she has no idea how to deal with the Duke of Malford.

Will she betray him to the world? Or will she be his saving Grace?

Slug Magazine Interview

About a month ago I spoke with Davey Davis, who–among other myriad projects– writes for the Utah-based SLUG magazine. The magazine features music, bikes, extreme sports, and other underground badassery. This particular issue is the BIKE ISSUE, so if you have an interest in the wheeling life, check out the many interesting articles there.

I originally connected with Davey through a program called The Clovers Project, which is a support/mentoring project for writers at different stages of their careers. Though Davey and I did not share a “clover” (a mentoring group) we discovered we both love bicycles, and once again, the bicycle made good things happen!

Read the full interview here.

Highlights include a discussion about the romance in The Velocipede Races, more info about my thought processes while writing the book, and details about how I designed the actual races.

Enjoy!

Seven Questions : Margaret Locke : A Matter of Time

I’m happy to have romance author Margaret Locke in the hot seat for my seven questions once again. Margaret has just released her latest novel, A Matter of Time, a time-travel romance about a modern woman who ends up in Regency England. With a duke. Of course.

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1.Give us a 1-2 sentence logline for your book.

A modern-day Austenite’s dream comes true when she lands in the arms of a Regency duke, only to learn some fantasies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be when he proves less than a Prince Charming.

2. This is your second novel. Which was easier to write, #1 or #2? Why?

That’s a hard question. I’d like to think this second novel was easier, just because I’d written one already, and because this is a more traditional romance, meaning the rules/format were more familiar.

However, the first book was a joy to write precisely because it was the first and I had no worries how people might receive it; I just wrote it for me. Now that the response to A Man of Character has been so overwhelmingly positive (hallelujah), I’m super-nervous about what people will think of A Matter of Time, especially since it is different in setting and somewhat in tone.

3. This book has a historical setting whereas your first had a contemporary setting. What was challenging about writing in the world of Regency England?

Trying to get the historical details right!

I’m actually a trained historian, having done all but write the dissertation in my doctoral studies of medieval Germany (though that was twenty years ago, and a completely different era). You’d think I’d have more confidence in my ability to research and represent a period – but I don’t!

I’m grateful, however, to the members of the Beau Monde, who kindly answered all sorts of elementary questions I posed to them, and to the numerous online blogs detailing some of the finer points of Regency life – as well as the large number of Regency-related books I’ve amassed here in my home.

Language issues tripped me up more than I expected – I spent hours looking up words to determine if they were in use in the period, etc., and even so, am sure I didn’t get it all right, whether the speech or the historical detail. Oh well. I’ll keep working at it!

4. Do you think you will branch out into other genres in the future, or does romance have your heart?

Romance is my one true love, and I don’t see myself straying from it. It speaks to me, and always has, and feels the most natural fit. I write in different subgenres within romance – contemporary, Regency, paranormal, etc. – which provides quite the challenge, but I don’t see myself suddenly venturing out into the fantasy or mystery or thriller worlds. It’s not who I am, and not how I write.

5. What’s your favorite time-travel novel?

I love Lynn Kurland’s books. Her Stardust of Yesterday is the ONE novel I kept when I went on a (stupid) several-year romance hiatus about ten years ago; I just couldn’t part with that book. I liked her others in the series, as well. Sheepish confession: I have yet to read or watch Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, but it’s on my list!

6. What are your writing plans and goals for 2016?

Oh, gosh, if I were better at planning and time management, I could answer that! I’d like to get at least one book out, preferably two. I have a draft of Book 4 in the series already written, as it was my National Novel Writing Month novel from 2014, and am currently writing Book 3 (again for NaNoWriMo), but it’s quite the mess and needs a lot of revamping. I also have fantasies of drafting a novella detailing the origins of Cat’s magical manuscript from A Man of Character. But we’ll see: sometimes life has other plans, especially since mom and wife are still the two main hats I wear.

7. What’s your secret superpower?

I have a superpower? If anything, it’s my ability to inhale stunning amounts of chocolate. Oh, that’s not something one should want to emulate? I’d say my powers lie in cheering others on in their writing goals. However, my husband just announced my not-so-secret superpower is talking. In his words, “We could call you Sir Talks-A-Lot.” He’s right. Bwah ha ha!

MLocke

Learn more about Margaret and her books at http://margaretlocke.com

The Gantean

The Gantean is now available for pre order. (And look at this pretty cover!)

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It’s my birthday, and to celebrate, my latest creation, The Gantean, is now available for pre-order on Amazon in ebook form! It will be delivered on June 27, 2015.

You can also add The Gantean to your “to-read shelf” on Goodreads now. Here’s its page.

Thanks to everyone who supported me to make this book happen. It has been a long time coming, and I’m very excited that it now exists!