Thursday, November 12, 2015

Interview with contemporary fiction author Maggie Bolitho

Today I’m chatting with author Maggie Bolitho about her contemporary novel, Outback Promise.

During her virtual book tour, Maggie will be awarding an e-copy of Outback Promise to 3 randomly drawn winners. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visits her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Maggie Bolitho grew up in Victoria BC Canada, where she spent her childhood flying under the radar, constructing alternate universes, and wishing to be somewhere over the rainbow. Shortly after her 17th birthday she set out to see the world. Eventually, she moved on to Australia.

While living Down Under and exploring the outback, Maggie started writing fiction. Her adult short stories have been published in various anthologies in Australia, the US, and Canada. She has written for Quills Canadian Poetry magazine, her YA novel Lockdown was published in 2014, and in 2015 she published Outback Promise.

Welcome, Maggie. Please tell us about your current release.
Outback Promise is the story of Ros and Grady Balfour whose comfortable, happy lives were shattered by the death of their only child, Cadel. Over six years a wall of hurt and bitterness has grown up between them. In this arid and emotionally impoverished state, Grady has an affair. When the story opens, Grady invites Ros to go for a hike. He has something important to discuss. Ros expects the worst but what Grady wants from her is one last chance to renew their love and reconcile their years of aloofness and distance. He wants the chance to rebuild trust in themselves individually and as a couple.

What inspired you to write this book?
Outback Promise started as a tiny grain of sand, carried back to my Sydney home after three months in the outback in 2005. During that trip I wrote daily journals, over 100,000 words in total, about the places I saw and the people I met. The outback made me feel as insignificant as dust. At the same time I felt connected to that ancient land in a deep, primal way.

Visiting the Devil’s Marbles (the area known to the traditional owners as Karlu Karlu) I encountered notes about the Aboriginal dreamings. They told of the Kwerreympe spirits that live in the caves under the rocks and lure children away from their families. The thought of a lost child was planted and years later I found Ros, Grady, and their beloved son, Cadel.

It seemed to take forever for the story to come into focus. At first, the characters were a faraway mirage on a desert highway. For eight years I worked on the book and shelved it, over and over again, before it was ready for submission.

The vastness of the outback was a compelling inspiration – how it heals and tears asunder, all at the same time. It’s a perfect place to bare one’s soul, to shed pain and grudges.

At one point in their desert trek, Ros and Grady are completely alone in a way it’s so hard to find these days. The moment is pure outback magic.

Excerpt from Outback Promise:

After dinner we sat under the stars and revelled in the luxury of being completely on our own. The heat of the day abated, but unlike the freezing nights in the red centre, in the tropics the nights stayed warm. We heard scratching as nocturnal animals foraged for food around us. Above us a full moon lit the sky, so bright we could almost read by it. The emu stood in the middle of the Milky Way, strong and black.
In that secluded togetherness, my love for Grady flared. With a comfortable bed under a canvas roof, a meal cooked over a campfire and a cold bottle of wine, we had everything we needed. There was no past, no future, only that single evening suspended in time. Beneath the vast diamond-studded blanket of the outback sky, Grady lifted my wrist to his lips and kissed the palm of my hand.
‘You couldn’t buy a night like this,’ he said.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m superstitious and find incubation is an intensely private process. I’m not being precious. The ideas simply aren’t well formed enough to set free. I’ll say this much: it’s YA, set in Australia.

JK Rowling said it best, “I find that discussing an idea out loud is often the way to kill it stone dead.”

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
During my 2005 outback adventure, I used to do 1,000-2,000 word weekly broadcast emails to friends and family. They got such a positive response, from people I didn’t even know well, I thought I’d give writing a go.

Do you write full-time?
I’m retired now so I could, but I have a husband I adore and like to spend time with. It would be more accurate to say I’m a part time writer. I work about 4-5 hours a day. Sometimes that stretches to 8-10 hours, like now when I’m on a blog tour and trying to keep up with my critique groups and advance my work in progress.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My writing improves with chocolate.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For years I wanted to be a Mountie because I loved with their red serge jackets and handsome dark horses.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I met my husband scuba diving one warm spring day in 1982. Five weeks later he went back to Australia. We kept in touch for six months or so and then I didn’t see him for another four years. We married in 1987 and, so far, have lived happily ever after.

The point being, good things are worth waiting for and may take much longer than you anticipate.

If you’re an emerging writer, be prepared for a long apprenticeship. Why not? A musician doesn’t get to be first violinist the year after they pick up their instrument.

Thank you for joining me for this interview. Lisa, thanks for hosting me.


Buy links:

You’re quite welcome, Maggie! Thanks for being here today.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Mai T. said...

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Maggie Bolitho said...

Thank you for inviting me to your lovely blog today.

Maggie Bolitho said...

Hello Mai,
I'm most proud of restarting the Young Writers' Club of North Vancouver. It had been dormant for a few years and I was unsure of my ability to lead a group of teens and tweens. I waded into unknown waters but the kids who came to the workshops were wonderful.
When I moved away from North Vancouver last year, I found someone to take it over.
Now I do all the behind-the-scenes administrative work that keeps the not-for-profit organization running. This is an essential but definitely unglamorous job that can be done from a distance.
The gorgeous and talented Lisa Voisin continues to lead those young adults, helping them improve as writers while acquiring skills, knowledge, and friendships that will last a lifetime.

Kathy Bosman said...

Your book sounds amazing.

Maggie Bolitho said...

Thanks, Kathleen. I hope you will get a chance to read it!

Maggie Bolitho said...

Here are some of the pictures from the trip that inspired the novel: