Saturday, February 6, 2016
Author Interview with Margaret Egrot
Where did the idea for your novel come from?
I was writing a play for radio about a woman falling apart when her husband left her. I just couldn’t get it to come alive – apart, I felt, from the scenes between her son and his best friend, Alex. Once I decided to forget about the play and concentrate on the boys’ stories instead, the novel – And Alex Still Has Acne - came together quickly. I decided to go for the young adult reader on this occasion, with the hope that teenage boys in particular, would enjoy reading it. Some do! I spent a lot of my working life dealing with that age-group.
How did you start writing?
A lot of people thought what I said was funny. So a few years ago I decided to try writing it down. Comedy sketches for the stage mostly. And Alex Still Has Acne is my first novel to be published.
What does your writing process look like?
I usually do an outline of the story and character pen pictures first. Nothing too detailed; the only novel I worked out completely before writing is still on Chapter one at the back of my desk drawer. Once I get going I write quickly, often revising the story outline as I go.
Where is your book set?
In the Midlands UK. The only place mentioned specifically is Birmingham.
Are your characters based on real people? No. “All names and characters are the work of the author’s imagination.’ Though of course, like most writers, little bits of character and ways of speaking that we have observed in other people creep in.
Did you always want to write?
I won a prize (postal order for £2.00) for a story in the Brownie magazine when I was eight, and thought after that I’d become a writer and make loads of money. But the need to earn a living, and bringing up a family, took up a few decades before I had the time and resources to try my hand seriously.
Which character is your favorite and why?
I like all three teenagers in the book: Alex, his sister Nicky, and best friend Sam. But as I wrote it Alex became my favorite. He is a great best friend and brother, especially when things are going wrong, without being a pain.
What authors do you enjoy reading? Why?
I run a second hand bookstall for a charity once a month. When it’s quiet I often start reading a book we have on sale without checking the cover, and if I’m enjoying it I keep on reading. Recently I have been reading books by Kate Atkinson and Mark Haddon.
Classics I like reading include Jane Austen and George Eliot – both have wise but funny things to say about human nature.
What are you reading right now?
Bill Bryson’s A short History of Nearly Everything. And lined up on my bedside table I have Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread – a Christmas present to myself.
10. Dog or Cats?
What’s next for you?
I have a play being performed locally in February so I am just putting the finishing touches to the script. As And Alex Still Has Acne is set partly in Birmingham I have been asked to contribute to an anthology of Birmingham writers. I have a nearly completed manuscript of another YA novel to send to a publisher, and a full length play I am looking to place somewhere.
Author Amazon Page
Bio: Margaret Egrot has worked in the Probation Service, Police Authority, Social Services, and the charity sector. She has written several prizewinning plays and short stories. Her first novel for young adults, And Alex Still Has Acne, was published by Solstice in January 2015. She has short stories in all the Solstice anthologies for 2015: Chains of Magic in The Food of Love, Love in Waiting in Summer Thrills, Summer Chills, and Journey to the Fair Mountain in The Winter Holiday Anthology. The stories are also available separately from Amazon.
Margaret lives in the UK with her husband and Cairn terrier, and has one grown up son who is married and lives in Thailand. She aims to walk five miles, swim one mile, and write 1,000 words every day. On a good day she manages two out of three.