Before we get started, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?
OK… well, here’s my official biography.
M T McGuire enjoys the real world but wouldn’t want to live here full time. That’s why she writes books. She grew up, or at least, got bigger, half way up a windy down in Sussex. Her home was also the first location choice for Hogwarts, in the Harry Potter films, so maybe it’s not so strange that she’s ended up writing spec-fic. Perhaps there’s something in the water up there, apart from chalk.
After a brief flirtation with stand-up M T sat down and started to write books when she got married. She now lives in Bury St Edmunds, in Suffolk, with a McOther, a McMini, a McCat and a selection of very silly cars. She hasn’t found a way to make any of the cars fly, and none of them is fitted with ordnance, but she and her team of evil scientists are working on that.
Despite being 46 now, and supposedly, an adult, M T checks all unfamiliar wardrobes for a gateway to Narnia. She hasn’t found one so far but she lives in hope.
I like that! Getting bigger instead of growing up! I don’t seem to have got bigger since I was about 15 though…
So, what inspired you to start writing?
This world wasn’t enough. I wanted somewhere more interesting. I wanted cars that flew, intelligent aliens, futuristic technology and I wanted a happier, funnier place than here. I wanted somewhere were the bad guys didn’t whup the good guys’ arses every single time. I wanted a world where I fitted in. So I invented places in my head and after a while, I decided that, if my mind was spending that much time away with the fairies, I might as well write about where it went. I made my first attempt when I was five with a fantasy epic called “Charles the Dragonslayer”. It wasn’t very good but it got me hooked.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Am I allowed to say everything? No, I’m not am I? It makes me sound a real drip. It is true though. I find writing quite hard and yet at the same time, I’m really and I mean really addicted. It’s like a bad crack habit. I’m addicted, I can’t stop. I’m an authorholic.
The thing is though, I understand why Olympic athletes get up at stupid o’clock to train before their day jobs, I get why concert pianists practise for 5 hours a day. Because even if you’re only a little bit good at something, if you start to make the effort you get better. So if you try and try and finally you crack how to make a real book (only took me 13 years phnark) it’s like laughing gas and the more your writing improves the harder you try. Er hem… or at least, that’s how it works for me.
Maybe there should be an author version of AA!
When you’re writing a new story, where do you start? Main text? Title? Start? Ending?
Usually it turns up during a song. I’ve got one on the boil at the moment that comprises four lines of dialogue and a picture of an aeroplane. More will turn up. The K’Barthan Trilogy started off with a song and an ending. So basically it varies.
Do you have any regrets, or things you wish that you’d done differently?
One: I recommend starting with a few stand-alone books rather than a series, although if they hang together loosely, like the Discworld novels, then that’s all to the good. But fool that I am, I published a series that doesn’t really stand alone. It’s taken from 2010 until now to get a full story arc into the public domain and that’s been hard. It’s like sitting down to watch telly and getting really engrossed in a film only to have someone come in, switch it off and tell you that you aren’t going to be able to see the end for four years.
Two: I wish I’d budgeted better at the beginning.
Three: editing… editing has been a fricking nightmare. I spent hundreds having my first book edited again and again by different people, none of whom did a thorough enough job. So, I wish I could have found my current editor at the start. It would have saved me the production costs of a whole other book.
What advice would you give to other authors?
OK, I have two bits of advice:
Thing one: Self publishing isn’t for everyone. If you are an author starting out, just remember that there’s no ‘them and us’ you are not compelled to choose a ‘side’ between trad or indie. Indeed, if you go indie, I think you will make it a lot easier on yourself if you aim to achieve a trad deal at some point, too and vice versa. Ironically, some of the reasons it might be smart to choose trad – for example, if you write slowly – are reasons you will probably have to publish your stuff yourself.
Thing two: Do not go into this thinking you are going to make money. If you’re putting out a quality product you need to focus on the long game. You will not get rich instantly – not even if you write erotica or thrillers. Indeed, you will probably not get rich at all.
If you can survive on only 1 hour’s sleep and are prepared to spend the rest of your time on places like Wattapad writing and bigging up fan fiction then, yes, you might but unless you have those oceans of free time at your disposal you’re going to have to succeed in slow motion.
Do you feel that you are like a particular character in your stories, and why?
Lord yes! The Pan of Hamgee, because of the way he blunders helplessly from one crisis to another and Ruth because she has no control of her own destiny at all. Other characters’ actions determine pretty much everything that happens to both of those two, and the only thing they control is how they react. I think a lot of us can identify with that.
Can I ask, if you don’t mind, what are you currently working on?
You certainly can. I have two on the go. The first is called (provisionally) Saving The World is Not For Girls and is about a girl who discovers her best friend is an alien and that he has come to warn her that humanity is doomed. Then there’s Space Dustmen, which may be a bit more gritty (and may have to be called Space Garbage instead).
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers, or just in general?
Thank you. I am amazed when people read my stuff and even more delighted when they enjoy it. I am also amazed how many kind and generous souls there are out there who have helped me, given me advice and encouraged me. So I’d like to thank everyone who has supported my efforts to do this writing gig and I’d like to thank all the people who have read my drivel and been kind enough to leave reviews.
To learn more, and buy the work of the lovely MT McGuire, please click: