Saturday, April 25, 2020

Welcome Margaret Ann Spence to our Garden Interviews

Hello Margaret

tell us about you and your books

Do you plot or let the story unfold as you write?

Both. I sketch a few characters first. The author Michael Stackpole, from whom I took a writing class, advised imagining two characters who write a letter to one another. Next day, add another character – conflicts will appear. I guess this is a pantsing, with a strategy.
Once I have the characters, I can write out a basic plot. But the ending of Lipstick on the Strawberry eluded me for a while. I took the advice of Julia Cameron and wrote “morning pages.” That’s a technique when you keep paper and pen by the bedside and the moment you wake up, write freely. Somehow the subconscious responds, and I had my ending.

Are your characters based on real people?

Everyone asks that question! Usually not, though writers do write from experience. The character of Frederick Fethewell, the father of my heroine, Camilla, in Lipstick on the Strawberry, is drawn from real life – someone I met only once. At a formal dinner, I sat next to a man who was both a clergyman and a physician. I wondered what drove a person to choose two professions which gave him such psychological power over others. His demeanor was dour, (he obviously would have preferred to be seated next to someone more important!) and I wondered, what would it be like to be the daughter of such a father?

When did you decide to become an author?
I wrote a book at age eleven. I found it, written in  penciled cursive in a blue exercise book, while cleaning out old papers. 

How did you come up with the title?

I researched what food stylists do.  They’ll take an unripe lipstick and color it to make it look luscious. I felt that fit the plot of Lipstick on the Strawberry, where what’s underneath a family’s respectability is not so pretty.

What tips would you give a new writer?

Keep going. Rejection is just part of it, and makes your writing better. Join a writers’ critique group before trying to publish. Every work needs improvement and editing. This is one career that’s like wine, age improves it.
Shut Out: How Camilla Feels About Her Family's Home.

And for some fun questions

Do you have a favorite quote?

“The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook.”  – Julia Child

What is your favorite drink?

I love a good pinot noir. Other than that, I am a complete and utter coffee addict.

What makes you laugh?

I actually love puns. Most people find them groan-making. I adore the word play.

Do you have any hobbies?

Always have my head in the oven – baking! And I claim to be a gardener, though the results don’t justify this title.

What is your favorite comfort food?

Just made some delicious banana bread. Want some?

Where can we find out more?

My website:
My facebook:

Download Lipstick on the Strawberry at your favorite online retailer


GiniRifkin said...

HI Margaret. Fun to get to know a little about you. Banana bread sounds yummy this morning. I like baking too. Lipstick on the Strawberry...what a great tile.

Laura Strickland said...

Margaret, I love puns too! I think they're punderful. It was great learning more about you!

Micki Miller said...

I love finding a book written at age eleven. How fun!