To celebrate the release of A Model Wife, author Maggie Christensen’s latest novel, I have a Q & A with Maggie I would love to share with you all. It is true pleasure to welcome Maggie to Mrs B’s Book Reviews for a Q & A session.
About the author…
After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing contemporary women’s fiction portraying mature women facing life-changing situations. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her frequent visits to family in Oregon, USA, her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast.
From her native Glasgow, Scotland, Maggie was lured by the call ‘Come and teach in the sun’ to Australia, where she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven!
(Image credit Krista Elpelstun)
She continues her love of books as a volunteer with her local library where she selects and delivers books to the housebound.
A member of Queensland Writer’s Centre, RWA, ALLi, and a local critique group, Maggie enjoys meeting her readers at book signings and library talks.
Q. Hello Maggie. It is my pleasure to welcome you to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews. I greatly appreciate the time you have provided to answer a few questions. To begin, A Model Wife, your latest novel will soon be released. Can you give us an outline of what we can expect?
A. A Model Wife follows Celia’s story as she attempts to extricate herself from a toxic marriage and make a fresh start.
Q. What came first in the creation of this novel – the title, the plot, the characters or the setting when you first set out to write A Model Wife?
A. The character of Celia came first. She had already appeared in two of my earlier books – I love bringing back minor characters from earlier books, in the hope my readers will feel they’re meeting old friends. In Broken Threads, she made a very brief appearance as Chloe’s mother, and in Isobel’s Promise, she played a more substantial role. I felt she deserved her own story and many readers told me they felt a lot of empathy for her.
Her past with her husband and the setting was already in place from the earlier books, and this informed the plot. The title A Model Wife seemed most appropriate for her as a former model.
Q. There are some powerful themes explored in A Model Wife. Can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind the main ideas presented in your latest novel?
A. Since I had already written the earlier part of Celia’s story in which she leaves her bullying husband who refused to accept their gay daughter’s relationship or her younger daughter’s pregnancy, it was easy to continue that theme.
When I started to write the novel, the same sex marriage debate was dominating the news, and as Celia’s daughter was in a same sex relationship, it made sense to focus on that as part of the book. The #MeToo campaign also began to appear in the headlines as I was writing and seemed to fit nicely with the rest of the plot.
Q. Let’s talk setting. What made you decide to base A Model Wife in Sydney?
A. As it follows on from earlier books, Celia had already appeared as living in Sydney, so A Model Wife has become part of my Sydney series. I lived in Sydney when I first came to Australia, and our daughter and her family still live there, so I enjoy writing about places I know well and still visit. For several years I lived in the Cremorne/Mosman area where Celia lives and works.
Q. What character did you most identify with in A Model Wife?
A. I think it would have to be Anna. She is the heroine of my first book, Band of Gold, and I’ll always had a soft spot for her and her Marcus.
Q. Is there a particular scene in A Model Wife that was challenging to write?
A. I found the scenes of the funeral and the reading of the will difficult to write as I wanted to try to ensure that my readers were sympathetic to my characters.
Q. What does your novel, A Model Wife, have to say about the modern Australian woman?
A. I think it is a story of resilience and hope. Readers have told me that they find my books inspiring and that they give them hope. I’d like to think that A Model Wife will elicit the same reaction.
Q. A Model Wife is a contemporary fiction novel, but it is also has elements of romance. What compels you to write romance?
A. I believe that most women like to read books which have a happy ever after, regardless of the plot. I met my own soulmate at the ripe old age of 37, when I had almost, but not quite, given up hope. I like to include an element of second chance romance, and I like to think my books give hope to the older woman that life doesn’t end at 40, 50 or 60.
Q. I have noted that you are a great ambassador for mature women’s fiction. What sparked this writing direction?
A. They are the sort of books I enjoy reading. I believe that mature women are often ignored in the literature or are stereotyped or depicted as quirky characters. I like to write about real people, women my readers might meet to have a coffee or a glass of wine with, women they can identify with. I hope they my characters are ones my readers can take to their hearts, strong women they can really care about and believe in, facing everyday issues.
Q. Can you tell us about your creative working space, where do you write and is there anything vital you need to get started?
A. I write in an office I share with my husband who writes non- fiction. We sit facing each other, and I find him most useful when the word I’m seeking doesn’t immediately come to mind. As he grew up in the US, he’s also proved useful for my Oregon Coast books as he was able to set me right with both American spelling and terminology.
I find I write best in the mornings after checking my marketing and emails – and I have a very untidy desk.
Q. How has your writing evolved since your first novel?
A. Since my first novel I believe my writing has grown and improved, thanks in no small part to my wonderful editor, John Hudspith. When I’m writing, it’s as if I have a little Johnny Hudspith on my shoulder giving directions and alternatively tutting and praising.
Also, when I wrote my first novel, it hadn’t occurred to me to follow my characters. But one of my favourite authors, Marcia Willett does this, and I love meeting old friends in her books. So, although my novels can all be read as standalone, readers will find they meet characters they are already familiar with.
Q. If you were not able to write what would be your chosen career?
A. I’m now retired, but I enjoyed a career in teaching, particularly at university level, and in education management, although when I left school I had no intention of teaching. My thoughts were to work in publishing, a library or a travel agency.
Q. What is next on the horizon for Maggie Christensen? Do you have any writing projects you would like to share with us?
A. I have just started another Scottish book which takes place two years after Isobel’s Promise and follows what happens to Bel and Matt’s family. I’m also contemplating another historical novel.
Q. Finally, what 2018 book releases are you most excited to read?
A. So many! Here are just some of them in no specific order:
The Anniversary – Hilary Boyd
Homecomings – Marcia Willett
Settlement – Anne Stormont
An Unsuitable Match – Joanna Trollope
A Month of Sundays – Liz Byrski
Before and Again – Barbara Delinsky
Coming Home to Island House – Erica James
Summer of Love – Caro Fraser
Y is for Yesterday – Sue Grafton (sadly, the alphabet ended at Y)
Sins of the Dead – Lin Anderson
Wild Fire – Ann Cleeves
Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews Maggie and congratulations on the publication of A Model Wife.
Connect with Maggie here:
Amazon Author Page https://amzn.to/2Lt8fkL
If this Q & A enticed you to read A Model Wife, here is the blurb:
… it’s never too late to make a fresh start.
Former top model Celia Ramsay is determined to extricate herself from her bullying husband – a former football hero. Despite his despicable behaviour towards their daughters, Celia agrees to join her husband on the media campaign for his memoir in return for an advance on the divorce settlement. But what she hasn’t bargained for is the spate of sexual harassment allegations against her husband and the media fallout which threatens to affect her entire family, not to mention her own sanity.
Real estate developer Johnno Henderson has always been a commitment-phobe, preferring to have a string of young models on his arm. But, as he nears fifty, he’s beginning to long for something more permanent. On the brink of the biggest deal of his career, a chance meeting with a former top model stirs up feelings Johnno never thought he was capable of, if only his playboy reputation would stop following him around.
Can this unlikely couple make a future together?
Set in Sydney at the height of the same sex marriage debate and the #MeToo campaign.