I’m so excited to be kicking off the fab UKMG Extravaganza blog tour today! We all know how lucky we are to be part of the UKYA and UKMG community but events like this serve as a great reminder about just how fantastic this group of readers and writers is.
My post today is a Q&A with the very lovely Margi McAllister, so let’s hop to it and have a look at the questions, shall we?
1. Hi Margi, thanks for taking the time to stop by Writing from the Tub for the UKMG Extravaganza blog tour! First off, can you tell me a little bit about The Summer Lion?
Hi, and thanks for inviting me! I’ve done a lot of animal stories lately, but for this book I wanted to go back to a story I’ve had in mind for a long time. It has an odd little village, a villain and some quirky inhabitants, but most importantly it has loyal, determined Drina and her shabby old lion Jampot with his false teeth.
2. The UKMG and UKYA events are all about celebrating the UK writing community – what are some of your favourite things about being part of this community?
The writing community is full of people who like lions with false teeth. And adventure. And rattling good stories. We encourage each other, which is so important, understand the ups and downs of being a writer, and cheer each other’s successes.
3. What did you hope to accomplish by writing The Summer Lion? Do you think you have accomplished what you set out to do?
(a) to entertain (b) to create fun characters that the reader would love (c) to be funny and exciting at the same time (d) I hope so!
4. Some writers take great inspiration from music while they’re writing. Do you listen to music while you’re writing or editing? If so, which artists do you like to listen to while you work?
I don’t often listen to music when I’m writing, but Capercaillie, Runrig and Iona are all good. Is it OK to say The Proclaimers? Nothing too dancey, though, because you can’t dance while writing.
5. What’s one piece of advice you’d like to give to any writers who are hoping to see their work published?
Keep reading. Keep writing. Ask yourself how you can make it better. Keep re-writing. Keep learning. Enjoy it. And get to know who publishes your sort of thing.
6. Is naming characters important to you? What processes do you go through to come up with names for your characters?
Sometimes a character walks into a book with a name already made, like Daffodil Thumping-Jolly. That’s always a sign of a good strong character. Otherwise I have to ask a lot of questions and try out the wrong names before I find the absolutely spot on right one. Drina is Elizabeth Andrina after my mum, Shiela Elizabeth and my husband’s mum, Jessie Andrina. I was going to give her an ordinary surname, but she wouldn’t have it. She wanted ‘Snapdragon’. She was right.
7. Aside from writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
I help to run a toddler group at a local church. Love it! I like books, theatre, and my garden. And sewing, but I’m no good at it, and getting out into our beautiful Northumberland countryside.
8. Thank you so much for your time, Margi. Before you go, could you tell me about any projects you have in the pipeline we can look out for?
There is a very wintery story on its way soon, set in the Scottish Highlands with a lot of wildlife. And something about cats…
Before I sign off I want to say a huge thank you to Margi for taking the time to answer my questions, and to Kerry Drewery and Emma Pass for organising the fab UKYA and UKMG Extravaganza events. Make sure you keep up with the tour to hear more from your favourite UKMG authors!