I recently had the privilege of sitting down with good friend and romance author extraordinaire, Margaret Locke, to chat with her about her brand new release, A Man of Character, hitting the market in just a few short days: May 26, 2015! Besides confirming my deeply held conviction that Margaret is an absolute delight, I also got to delve more deeply into the book that spun itself from her magic fingertips. Come with me to find out more about flights of fancy, happily-ever-afters, and of course, time travel with TARDIS… because why not?
Tamara: Tell us three of your favorite things about fiction in general.
Margaret: 1. I’m a word geek. I revel in gorgeous phrasings, in language that moves me, in words that make me laugh, reduce me to tears, leave me gnashing my teeth. It boggles my mind that little scratchings on paper (or a screen) can evoke such emotion. When I read, I love to see how authors do it, how they mix and match words to create something brand new, something exhilarating, unexpected, something that arouses authentic feeling in the person consuming those words. It’s so cool that the human race figured out how to do that, how to communicate to others, to people they know and people they’ll never meet, by means of twenty six letters and umpteen thousands of words arranged and rearranged in patterns that tell stories.
2. Fiction transports us not only into different worlds, but into other people’s minds. What other medium can do that? In real life, I can imagine what someone is thinking or feeling, but I won’t ever truly know – I have to trust what the person chooses to tell me. Cleverly written fiction, on the other hand, makes me feels as if I’m right there in the midst of all those brain cells, feeling what those characters are feeling, experiencing those situations exactly as they do. Fiction makes me feel more connected to real people, even when I’m reading about made-up folks, if that makes any sense.
3. Fiction, especially romance, makes the world feel brighter and more predictable than it really is, both of which my anxious little soul finds soothing. When I pick up a romance novel, I know I’ll get that Happily Ever After that so many of us crave in real life. I know that, in the words of A Man of Character’s Eliza James, “No matter what happens—and believe me, some crazy things happen—they will end up together.” And that makes me happy.
Tamara: What first drew you to the insanity that is writing fiction?
Margaret: I’ve always dabbled in language. I wrote (bad) poetry in my teens, short stories in my twenties. But even though I’d vowed as a teen I’d write romance when I grew up, I never seriously pursued that. Not until after I turned forty. Why now? Well, on the practical side, my kids are older and are both in school. I own more of my time now than I have in more than a decade. And I needed something to do.
But on the emotional side, I wanted to write stories to entertain people, to amuse them, to make them happy. Romance novels have always done that for me. And, well, the control freak part of me probably enjoys controlling the whole process a lot more than I want to admit. Mostly, though, it’s just plain fun.
Tamara: If you were trapped in a fictional world that includes giants, superheroes, a dragon or two, and a brooding, dark-haired hero with a tortured past, and you had the option to bring any three things from this world with you, what would those things be and why?
Margaret: Well, Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, obviously. That way my hero and I could hide away from all those scary things you mentioned and, well, you know… Also, chocolate. Because chocolate is one of life’s necessities, and if the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, we might as well inhale the stuff of the gods. Finally, I’m thinking the TARDIS would be pretty cool. I’ve always wanted to time-travel. What? You’re telling me that cloak and the TARDIS are fictional? I choose not to believe you.
Tamara: Tell me about A Man of Character. Who is the character in the book that resonates with you the most, and why?
Margaret: At the center of A Man of Character is Catherine Schreiber, a thirty-five-year-old bookstore owner who has a rather Eeyorish outlook on life and love. Her best friend, Eliza James, is her happy, bouncy, Tiggerish counterpart. Together, they balance each other out. I want to be Eliza, but in truth there’s more Catherine in me than I’d like to admit. Fear is what keeps Catherine from opening up, what keeps her trapped in her intentionally limited world, and I know fear has done the same thing to me. To see Catherine challenge that fear, to move beyond it, inspires me to believe I can do the same – even though she’s just a fictional character and I, her creator.
Tamara: Do you have any upcoming projects? What will we see next on the market from Margaret Locke?
Margaret: Absolutely. Eliza gets her own story in my next book, A Matter of Time, which, the universe willing, will hit the market in late 2015. My third book, The Demon Duke, is a Regency-set romance that tells the story of a man with an agonizing secret and the shy, young woman who might just be the one to free him from the prison of his own making. And additional members of the Mattersley family, to whom you are introduced in A Man of Character and who feature prominently in A Matter of Time and The Demon Duke, will get stories of their own.
What would you do if you discovered the men you were dating were fictional characters you’d created long ago?
Thirty-five-year-old Catherine Schreiber has shelved love for good. Keeping her ailing bookstore afloat takes all her time, and she’s perfectly fine with that. So when several men ask her out in short order, she’s not sure what to do…especially since something about them seems eerily familiar.
Caught between fantasy and reality, Cat must decide which—or whom—she wants more.
Blending humor with unusual twists, including a magical manuscript, a computer scientist in shining armor, and even a Regency ball, A Man of Character tells a story not only of love, but also of the lengths we’ll go for friendship, self-discovery, and second chances.
As a teen, Margaret Locke pledged to write romances when she grew up. Once an adult, however, she figured she ought to be doing grown-up things (such as earning that masters degree in medieval history), not penning steamy love stories. Yeah, whatever. Turning forty cured her of that silly notion. Margaret is now happily ensconced back in the clutches of her first love, this time as an author as well as a reader.
Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fab kids, and two fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window; she’s come to terms with the fact that she’s not an outdoors person). Please visit her at margaretlocke.com.