Maggie Tideswell became an author rather accidentally, when she was bored at work one day. Now, she is the author of two paranormal fiction books, Moragh, Holly’s Ghost and Dark Moon. She no longer works in the boring job that prompted her to begin writing and instead works part-time, devoting the rest of her time to working on upcoming releases.
1. I noticed that your profile on Blogger says you’re in health care—what prompted you to get into writing?
I was in health care. A couple of years ago I worked for a stoma therapist here in Johannesburg as receptionist. Directly after leaving school I nursed for a year, but for most of my working life I have been in the hospitality industry. My writing career started quite unexpectedly, even though I always knew I would be a writer one day. I was the duty manager one weekend and as there wasn’t a lot to do on Sundays, I started fooling around on the computer and wrote a scene. It was horrible, but I honed it until I was happy with it. Then I wrote another scene and then another and … that was the start of my first novel and I gave it the working title of An Absolute Bargain. This book became my second to be published under the title Moragh, Holly’s Ghost about 20 years after that Sunday being bored at work.
2. I’ve noticed that you live in South Africa. How do you think that has affected your books? Is there a distinctive South African influence in them?
There definitely is a South African slant to my writing. One hears it often said that one should write what one knows. As I was born and raised in South Africa, one could say I know the setting well. At first I toyed with the idea of setting my stories somewhere different and exotic, but then local customs for that area crop up and I was stumped. I didn’t want to color my work “unauthentic” because of the setting. I use South African slang and customs and readers have commented that my writing is uniquely different because of that.
3. Are supernatural romances all the rage in South Africa the way they have been in the U.S. and Europe over the past few years?
Absolutely. It is a known fact that people like to be “scared” and South Africans are no different. Paranormal is a universal trend. But to me there is paranormal and then there is paranormal. Zombies and vampires and werewolves are paranormal, but you won’t find any of those in my stories. Teeth and tentacles are also classed as paranormal, but personally I find both very off-putting. To me, supernatural is what cannot be seen, only experienced. And ghosts of course are my favorite. The romance isn’t between humans and ghosts, but rather two people falling in love despite the fear of a haunting.
4. Who are your influences? What supernatural authors do you like?
I lived in a tiny mining town from the gold rush period and that was where my fascination with ghosts started. The house we were in was haunted. This I experienced myself, although I have never seen a ghost. That house had cold spots and nightly footsteps and all sorts of cheepy things going on. Shortly after moving in, I started awake one night as if somebody was leaning over me. When I spoke to a few of the locals who had been in the town for a long time, I was told that the house we were in used to be a hospital and that it was probably the nurse who came to look at the new “patients” in the night.
Barbara Erskine’s writing is very similar to mine if some respects and I have read most of her books. I also enjoy Dean Koontz and Anne Rice, to name but a few.
5. What’s your writing process like and how long does it take you to write a book?
It starts with an idea, which grows into a scene, which grows into a chapter. I have to know what the outcome is going to be. And I need to allow a story to rest and mellow, so I normally work of two or three books at the same time. I find that taking a break from a story adds fresh perspective when I return to it. Characterization is very important and I look at each character separately and then at them all interacting together as a whole. All of this is rather time-consuming and it might be many years before I am happy that a book is ready for readers.
6. Out of the three books that you’ve written, which is your favorite and why?
They each have a different set of characters and I always fall a little bit in love with my hero. I am working on the second and third books in the Moragh Haunting series of which Moragh, Holly’s Ghost is the first. It didn’t start out as a series, but when I finished writing Moragh, Holly’s Ghost, I realized there was so much that was still untold. For instance, what became of Nicole? She is the focus of the second book, titled Poppet Nicole. And then I worried that the reader would be left with the idea that Donald was only bad, whereas he was searching, like the rest of us. I had to finish telling his story too in a third book, for which there isn’t a working title yet.
Now that Roxanne’s Ghost is finished, I had the same doubts about those characters. I am planning another two books to follow Roxanne’s Ghost when I’m finished with the Moragh Haunting series.
Dark Moon will remain a stand alone book. I feel the story came to a natural conclusion and there isn’t much I would have liked to add, except maybe to tell Donna’s and Elle’s stories. They both had a raw deal in Dark Moon.
So, as you can see, all three books are all close to my heart.
7. How did you find your publisher, All Things That Matter Press? Tell me a little bit about how they work.
When my first book was ready, I was desperate to find a publisher for it. I went down the Preditors & Editors list and submitted to every publisher who was interested in new authors of my genre and who accepted email submissions. I sent out about 30 submissions in the space of 2 days and All Things That Matter Press responded about 6 weeks later. They publish speculative literature, of which the paranormal genre forms a part. They do not publish romance, normally.
They edit the manuscripts themselves and do a wonderful job with it. They provide the cover art, although I had my own covers designed by an independent designer. The authors don’t pay them for any of this. When the book is released, they list it online with amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kalahari.net and many more, but the marketing and getting the word is the responsibility of the author.
8. How has living in South Africa affected your marketing of the book? Obviously it’s a bit of a hassle to do events or book readings in the U.S. or Europe, so what do you do to compensate?
Marketing a book in South Africa is a lot different and more challenging that is the US and Europe. So far I have neglected my home country and have concentrated on internet marketing, but it isn’t enough. I am launching a marketing campaign targeting South African print media, radio and bookstores.
9. What plans do you have for the future in terms of writing?
Many more books! As I have already explained, I have 4 books in the pipeline (2 in the Moragh Haunting series and 2 to follow Roxanne’s Ghost – I must really think of a title for that series!) I am also working on a novel set on one of the Portuguese islands off the east coast of Africa and flashes back to the slave trade off the African coast. I will never stop writing. Story ideas just pop up all the time and I am just worried that there won’t be enough time to write them all.
For more information, you can check out Maggie’s blog or you can visit her Amazon author page to look at the titles currently available for purchase. Also, you can check out her YouTube trailer for Dark Moon below: