Maggie James lives in Bristol, England. She writes psychological suspense novels.
What were your real influences; as a person and writer?
Every book I read influences me. Good, bad, indifferent – each one shapes my writing and I learn from it.
To enjoy a great novel, with compelling characters and a gripping plot, is like attending a creative writing class. I absorb lessons from it as if by osmosis. If a book’s bad, that’s also a useful learning tool. It teaches me what doesn’t work.
I read novels differently now I’m a writer, and author friends say the same thing. I’m much more critical; half of my brain is concentrating on the story, whilst a small voice is saying, ‘Ooh, I love how he/she’s handled that’.
Or, ‘Not sure a third person point of view works well here’. It gets annoying at times! Sometimes I just want to enjoy the story.
My influences as a person? Without a doubt, the most important one has been foreign travel. I’ve travelled extensively over the last twenty-five years, and it’s made me a much more confident person. Travel is almost as important as writing to me.
What lessons and experiences have you taken from your other careers?
My brief stint as a life coach has helped me enormously.
I’m a goal-driven individual, and the training I received as a coach has yielded dividends in planning my writing career.
My main area of work before writing was accountancy, which some might think would offer no help to an aspiring author.
It has, though. My years in the financial world have made me business-focused, enabling me to deal with the money aspect of what I do. From what I hear, many authors dislike the non-creative side of writing, whereas I’m fine with it.
What do you think about writers doing more than one genre?
I think it’s a fantastic way to grow as a writer. Why limit oneself to one genre? Take historical fiction, for example. If I ever decide to explore that genre, I’d need to conduct far more research than I do for psychological thrillers.
In turn, that will be a great learning curve and teach me new techniques for garnering information. It’s likely I’ll try writing a different type of novel one day, maybe dystopia, science fiction or erotica. Definitely not YA or romance; I have nothing against those genres, but they’re not a good fit for me.