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Margo Maguire Interview

Today we welcome Avon author Margo Maguire, who has written Medievals, Victorians, Saxons, Celts, Sorcerers, and Regencies, you name it. Today she’s talking about her latest book, in bookstores now, Taken By The Laird.


…There’s something for everyone in this book — romance, sex, ghosts, adventure and mystery….–Linda Roberts, RT Book Reviews

Margo will be giving away two signed books. See the details at the end of the interview.

Welcome, Margo! Tell us about Taken By The Laird.
First of all, thank you for having me on Risky Regencies! I love your site.

Taken by the Laird is the story of Brianna Munro, who flees London rather than staying and marrying the man chosen for her by her callous guardian. She’s impulsive and determined, and when she arrives in Scotland, the weather is brutal. She takes refuge in Castle Glenloch, much of which is in ruins, never expecting to find its laird, Hugh Christie, in residence. Hugh is known in London as a rake and a scoundrel, and all the single young ladies are cautioned against him. Hugh is at Castle Glenloch for the purpose of trying to determine who is sabotaging his smuggling operation. The castle holds terrible memories for Hugh, whose wife committed suicide there some years before. He is now a dedicated bachelor, with absolutely no intention of marrying again. Though he is fairly certain Brianna is lying about her identity – Hugh does not guess that she is the daughter of a viscount, or else he’d get her away from Glenloch immediately.

Taken By The Laird features characters from Wild. Tell us about that book and whether readers should read it first.
No need to read Wild first. Hugh is merely introduced as a friend of Wild’s hero, Anthony Maddox, who was lost in Africa as a child. Here’s the one-line “high concept” that I gave my editor when I proposed this book: The young, female companion to an elderly dowager must become tutor to the woman’s grandson, a young man who was lost while on safari with his father at a young age – who now returns to London to become civilized and take his place in society.was a lot of fun to write. Anthony isn’t exactly a “wild child,” because he’s kept some English artifacts that remind him of home (which also helped to keep the English language alive for him). But he would prefer to return to his perfect environment in Africa. Grace Hawthorne is the starched young companion to Anthony’s grandmother, who finds herself in an untenable situation with a man who has no concept of propriety or decorum. Worse, he doesn’t seem to care that he will hurt his grandmother if he leaves.

We re Risky Regencies. What is “risky” about Taken By The Laird?
For me, the riskiest part of Taken By The Laird was in the writing: balancing the romance with the plot. Smuggling is the reason Hugh is in Scotland in the first place, and someone is obviously stealing from him. There’s a murder, and it has a great deal to do with Hugh’s smuggling operation. I have Brianna, who lies about her identity in order to keep herself concealed from her guardian and bridegroom, and she’s a rather impetuous, unpredictable character. Even I wondered what she was going to do next, and I had a detailed synopsis to work from!

And then there was the ghost. The castle is haunted, but Hugh has never seen the ghost, so he’s always believed the legend was just a ruse to keep people away from the castle … away from the smuggling. But Brianna actually sees it …I had to be relentless in keeping Brianna and Hugh together, and making them irresistible to each other, in spite of everything going on around them. This is a very sexy book!

You set the book in 1829, post-Regency. What drew you to this time period?
This sort of happened by default. Hugh is introduced in Wild, which I’d intended to make a Victorian story, but my editor asked me to move it back, make it earlier. The only problem was that I needed to have the hero, Anthony, lost in Africa some twenty-ish years before, but Englishmen were not going on safari until the late 1700s. They were definitely exploring before then (I think there was a recent Risky blog about Scottish explorer Mungo Park), but I couldn’t imagine Anthony’s father taking him on one of those early expeditions. So I decided he might have brought the boy along on safari in about 1807-08, by which time there’d been a lot of exploration already done, and he could be reasonably sure of the conditions where they were going. Which meant that Wild couldn’t have taken place before about 1829 or so. And since Hugh was introduced in Wild, I had to keep the same time frame for Taken by the Laird.

Did you come across any interesting research while writing the book?
LOL! There is always so much, all the little details, that seem inconsequential. But they’re crucial to a story. For this one, I had to research smuggling (known as free-trading): where it was done, what products were smuggled, how it was financed, who the customs agents were, what kind of ships were used, how the contraband would be stored – and I wanted to know how it would take place in Scotland. Not that all of this information is laid out in Taken by the Laird, but I always have to . Because other factors that do turn up in the book might depend upon the background information that will forever lie hidden in my notes.

What’s next for you?
My next book from Avon is a Regency that will be out in May, 2010, called The Rogue Prince. It’s set in 1817, and was an absolute treat to write. The hero, Thomas Thorne, is a man who was wrongly convicted of a crime and spent years in an Australian penal colony. By a twist of fate, he becomes incredibly wealthy. But when he returns to London to take revenge against the two boys (now men) who accused him, he falls for the woman who is the widow of one, and stepsister of the other.

I also contributed a couple of short stories, one coming out in December in The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance and the other in January in The Mammoth Book of Irish Romance. Both were departures from my usual fare, so they were a lot of fun to write!

In honor of my visit here to Risky Regencies AND my birthday, which is this Tuesday, I’d love to give away a copy of Wild, and one of Taken by the Laird.

Thanks for hosting me today, ladies!

Thanks for coming, Margo! Winners will be chosen at random from our commenters, so be sure to ask Margo a question, or tell her what you think about these intriguing books!

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Caroline Storer
13 years ago

Hi Margo. Great blog. Taken by the Laird sounds like a real page turner! I love to hear how a story comes together. Are you a plotter or a panster? I’m guessing a “plotter” as you intimated that you work from a detailed synopsis for the heroine. Am I right? Take care. Caroline x

RKCharron
13 years ago

Hi 🙂
Thanks for having Margo Macguire here and thank you Margo for the great interview. I love to learn about another author’s process.
Ever since the Liar controversy I have wondered how much other authors have a say in their covers.
Do you have any say in your covers?
All the best,
RKCharron
xoxo

MariElle
13 years ago

Hi RR
I really enjoy meeting ‘new to me’ authors here at Risky Regencies.
Margo, thanx for the insights into your books and your writing.
As descendant of Scot who first migrated to Ireland, I’m always up for romance set in Scotland. I don’t know if my ancesters were high- or low-landers – family trees etc got burned in a fire- but I love to imagine great-greats of mine in the stories I read.
Looking forward to reading your stuff.
Thanx again,
MariElle.

Amanda McCabe
13 years ago

Welcome to the Riskies, Margo!! That Gothic-esque setting sounds absolutely wonderful (I love haunted castles). What sorts of research resources did you find on smuggling (I’m looking into this for a future project, too…)

Janet Mullany
13 years ago

Welcome to the Riskies, Margo! I’m interested in the 1829 setting–did the shift in sensibility between that date and the actual Regency-Napoleonic wars period cause any challenges for you? Seems like you get creeping Victorianism at this point (and those huge puffy sleeves!).

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

Welcome, Margo!
Glad to have you here.

Margo Maguire
13 years ago

Hi Janet, Thank you for having me!
The shift to post-regency wasn’t really huge for me, although I did push the limits of the smuggling business. As I recall from my research, things were starting to slow down by 1829, but I figured that the coast of Scotland was a prime place to keep things going!

As for puffy sleeves … as you can see from the cover, my heroine only has a blanket. 🙂

Margo Maguire
13 years ago

Hi Amanda,
I really enoyed the “gothic” sensibility of this book, too!

As far as research … there are a few online sites. One of the better ones is http://www.smuggling.co.uk/gazetteer_se.html which gave me some background information. Then I searched for books on the subject.

I found THE FINE ART OF SMUGGLING: KING’S CUTTERS VS SMUGGLERS: 1700-1855 by E. Keble Chatterton, and Smuggling in Kent and Sussex 1700-1840 by Mary Waugh to be especially helpful.

Welcome to the Riskies, Margo!! That Gothic-esque setting sounds absolutely wonderful (I love haunted castles). What sorts of research resources did you find on smuggling (I’m looking into this for a future project, too…)

Margo Maguire
13 years ago

Hi MariElle –
I hope you’ll give “Laird” a try! I know what you mean about imagining ancestors in certain settings. And there’s nothing more romantic than Scotland!

Margo Maguire
13 years ago

RKCharron – The Liar controversy? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it!
As far as covers go…I don’t have a lot of control. I give the art department a good bit of information about my characters and the setting, and they take it from there. That said, I’ve had some spectacular covers. My next one (for The Rogue Prince is my best yet!

RKCharron said…
Ever since the Liar controversy I have wondered how much other authors have a say in their covers.
Do you have any say in your covers?
All the best,

Margo Maguire
13 years ago

Hi Caroline –
I would say I’m a hybrid – plotter+patser. I have a detailed synopsis that I work from (about 16-20 pages), and I often have a few pertinent scenes in mind when I begin writing. But mostly I work from two columns of “conflicts.” They’re His and Hers, Internal and External. Whenever the story seems to be deviating, I just refer to my conflicts chart and I get back on track.

Judy
13 years ago

Happy Birthday, Margo! And welcome to Riskies! I’ve pre-ordered the Mammoth Book of Time Travel and looks like I’ll be ordering the Irish as well. Was there something specific that inspired this plot?

Margo Maguire
13 years ago

Thank you, Judy! 🙂
I hope you like those Mammoth Book stories. Since they’re very short, the plot and character arc have to happen very quickly. I’m not really sure where the idea for my time travel story came from. It’s not historical, which is an extreme departure for me.

Actually, I *did* consider all sorts of historical scenarios, but the one that kept coming back was more contemporary, so I ended up with a hero who travels from the year 2743 to the present.

For the Irish story, I took Ana MacLochlainn, one of the characters from my Warrior series (from Avon) and gave her her own romance in Ireland. It was neat to be able to “close the circle” by writing Ana’s story.

Judy said…
Happy Birthday, Margo! And welcome to Riskies! I’ve pre-ordered the Mammoth Book of Time Travel and looks like I’ll be ordering the Irish as well. Was there something specific that inspired this plot?

kimmyl
13 years ago

Margo, I love how you put all the vivid detais in your book. It makes you feel like you’re right there. I also love the idea of ghosts. I think it makes the story more exciting. I love reading your books. They really are terrific.

Where did you come up with great ideas for your storylines? When you write your stories do you have to change alot of it or any at all to satisfy your editors?

Margo Maguire
13 years ago

Hi Kimmy – Thank you!
Inspiration comes in all sorts of ways. For this one, I happened to be doing an internet search for a particular youtube video, and I happened upon a film of Dunnottar Castle in Scotland. It was the most haunting place I’d ever seen – hence, the ghost!

As to your question about “revising for editors” – yes, most authors have to do it. I actually love getting input from my editor. It’s great to have an unbiased reader tell me where the plot seems to weaken, or if she doesn’t quite “get” the motivation of a character. Because if she doesn’t get it, then my readers won’t. It means I have to clarify things to make the story work.

But it can be an arduous process. You can’t just change one thing and have the rest fall into place. You’ve got to read carefully through the entire manuscript to make it all hang together properly.

Virginia
13 years ago

A BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU MARGO!

Great post! Your book sounds like an awesome read and I love your books, so I am sure it is! I know you write historicals, but what types of books do you like to read, do you stay with historicals or paranormals, just which ones are your favorite?

Margo Maguire
13 years ago

Hi Virginia –
I read all kinds of things. Historical romance, of course, but I really love romantic suspense and thrillers. And I have too many favorite authors to name! I can’t have a “keeper” shelf because … well, I have way too many, lol.

Katie
Katie
13 years ago

Hi Margo! Your books sound wonderful–I can’t wait to read them! As a devoted fan of any and everything Scottish, what was it about Scotland that made you want to set the book there?

Louisa Cornell
13 years ago

Hello, Margo, I love the Gothic sound of Taken by the Laird. Thanks so much for posting the smuggling resources for Amanda as that is a subject I haven’t researched before and I might need it one day. How interesting that you work from a list of conflicts for your characters. I’ve never heard of that approach before, but it sounds like a very workable idea!

How do you work to keep the balance between the romance and the “story” even or at least intriguing enough to keep the reader on the hook? I’m working on a Regency set historical romance in which a murder mystery is at the center of it, but I also want to make sure the growing relationship between the hero and heroine is front and center as well. Do you ever have to make a decision as to how much of either element to keep or let go?

And Wild sounds like my kind of book! I LOVE the idea of a Tarzan meets Jane Austen story! I’ve got to read it!

Margo Maguire
13 years ago

Hi Katie –
It was Dunnottar Castle that inspired me for this one. I had some characters in mind, and when I saw this castle in a youtube video, it all came together!

catslady
13 years ago

Happy almost birthday 🙂
Spectacular is a good word for your covers. I think you have some of the best. Do you still enjoy the research as much as when you first started? (I’m guessing yes but I could be wrong lol). Your books are just the kind I enjoy the most!

Margo Maguire
13 years ago

Louisa –
I’ve got a synopsis alongside my conflict lists, so I’m going by that as I write, too.

It’s not easy to balance the plot and the romance. I tend to get plot-heavy, and my editor pulls me back. But it doesn’t diminish the amount of research I do… whether it turns up in the book or not, I need to know. Because there might be an oblique reference to something, which needs to be authentic!

Margo Maguire
13 years ago

Hi Catslady!
Yes, I still love doing research. A lot of you know that I spent a good many years as an intensive care nurse. But early in my career, I took a break and got another degree in history, just because it interested me. It still does, and I continue to enjoy reading history just for fun.

Linda Henderson
13 years ago

I hope you have a very happy birthday. I enjoyed your comments very much and Taken by the Laird sounds like my kind of book. I will definately have to add it to my list of books to read.

Jane
13 years ago

Welcome Margo,
Happy Birthday and congrats on the new release. I really enjoyed “Wild.” I love Anthony and Grace.

michellewillingham
13 years ago

Hi Margo–I didn’t realize we were both in the Mammoth Book of Time Travel romance. That’s great! 🙂

Good to see you here!

Kit Donner
13 years ago

Hi Margo,
I love ghost stories so can’t wait to read “Taken by the Laird.” I love the research that goes into historicals, especially when you love the timeframe. Thanks for your blog. I found it very interesting.

Gwynlyn MacKenzie
13 years ago

Hi Margo. It’s really amazing how much research is never actually used (as in put out there for the reader) but is indespensible to telling the story.

I look forward to reading these books. I’ve run into a lot of SS/DD (Same Story/Different Dame) lately. Yours look refreshingly different.

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

Linda – Thanks for the birthday wishes! I hope you enjoy Taken by the Laird. 🙂

Jane – So happy you liked Wild. It’s one of my favorites, too! Fun to research, fun to write.

Michelle – Yeah, a couple of Mammoth Book alums. 🙂

Hey Kit – I’m glad my ghost story caught your interest. I hope you’ll give it a try!

Margo Maguire
13 years ago

Gwynlyn – I think we might be kindred spirits. I’m always looking for something a little bit different, too!

Margo Maguire
13 years ago

Oh… that “anonymous” up there is from me. I got a little ahead of myself. 🙂

Bunnie's Mom
13 years ago

Hi Margo, I was just perusing when I came across your post, and it caught my eye. I’m always looking for new authors to help feed my reading habit 🙂 Looks like I’ll have to add yours to the list! I always enjoy hearing interesting bits from different writers about their writing processes, thanks for sharing

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