Interview with Maggie James

When did you first start writing?
I started writing simple short stories when I was a child. It was always my ambition to write novels as an adult, but somehow it never happened. I dipped my toe back in the water in 2009, writing a few short stories and publishing them on different websites. The feedback I received encouraged me to achieve my ambition of writing a novel. The first draft of His Kidnapper's Shoes was completed in 2011.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I love the freedom and flexibility, along with having total control over the whole process. When I first decided to pursue my writing ambitions, I intended to pursue the traditional route, but then a friend encouraged me to consider self-publishing. When I delved further into it, it quickly became obvious that self-pubbing was the right solution for me. SInce then, I've been offered a traditional publishing contract, but turned it down, I'm very happy with the path I've chosen.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Guilty Innocence is based around the murder of a toddler by two eleven-year-old boys, fourteen years ago. Both are convicted and sent to juvenile detention centres, yet only one is guilty. Now, following his release from prison on special licence, Mark Slater attempts to come to terms with his past after his girlfriend discovers his former identity.

The novel was inspired by the question of how it must feel to discover your partner has a hidden criminal past. Not just any crime either, but child murder. This formed the basis for the character of Natalie Richards and her troubled relationship with ex-convict Mark Slater.
What is your writing process?
I'm very much a planner. I use Scrivener to plan and write my novels, with Word to help with the final editing process. First, I plan the novel using the Snowflake method and a Scrivener template that I've designed. Then I write, at least 2,000 words a day, until I've finished. After that, I usually put the book aside for at least a month, so that I can return to it with a more critical eye. Then I edit, using yet more software, before I turn the novel into Kindle format, again using Scrivener. For the paperback edition, I use CreateSpace.
How do you approach cover design?
I use someone to create my covers for me. I did dabble with the idea of doing it myself, but finally accepted that I don't have the necessary design skills. I'm a very visual person, so it's important to me that my covers look good.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Bristol, U.K. Bristol features as a location in my first three novels, but apart from that I don't think it's had much influence on my writing. So far, location hasn't played a major role in any of my novels, so it made sense to base them somewhere familiar, leaving me free to concentrate on other areas.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read in most genres apart from romance. I enjoy thrillers, suspense, classics, literary fiction. I don't read a great deal of historical fiction, though. I'd like to read more science fiction but a lot of what I've tried has been very dry.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm really into health and fitness, so I'm often to be found at the gym, doing yoga classes or walking dogs. I'm a total foodie - I love cooking and trying new restaurants. Foreign travel has long been a passion of mine and my first novel, His Kidnapper's Shoes, was written when I stayed in Bolivia for a couple of months. I'm intending to set my fifth novel wholly or partly in Cambodia. It's somewhere I've already visited, and I plan to return soon.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Writing! Although I'm a night owl, for some reason I write better in the mornings. My day starts with a short meditation session, despite the fact I have a terrible monkey mind and can't keep my thoughts still for more than a few seconds. Still, I try. Maybe it helps with the creative process; who knows?
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Nook, and I love it! I use it to help me during the editing process of my novels as well as for reading. It's much easier on the eyes than a computer screen, that's for sure! I wouldn't rule out buying one of the more sophisticated Kindles in due course.
Published 2014-07-08.
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