Sunday, September 22, 2019

An Interview with A.J. Maguire

Author website

A.J. Maguire is a consumer of stories. She thoroughly believes that stories are the bedrock of humanity, and that the answer to every question in life can be found in the tales that we tell. She also believes that spiders are the spawn of Satan and that her cat might just be the reincarnation of Dionysus. She enjoys books with strong characters who challenge her as a person and manage to whisk her off with adventure at the same time. This means that she reads nearly any genre and any author but her favorites include Diana Gabaldon, James Rollins, Ken Follett, Jennifer Crusie, and Brandon Sanderson. Maguire is passionate about her craft and constantly working to improve. She'll probably keep telling stories long into her old age (which is still several decades off) and believes that being an author is the single greatest, most wonderful gift she has been given -- apart from her son. She looks forward to every story and hopes to release many more novels in the years to come.

Why did you start fiction writing and what genre(s) do you like to write?

Gracious, I’ve been writing for so long I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t part of my life. I’ve been weaving stories since I was little, and in the 6th grade I had an excellent teacher who gave us a fiction writing assignment that made me fall in love with the whole process.

I can’t seem to hammer a genre down, though. I started with fantasy because I felt it gave me more freedom. And then I moved to science fiction/space opera because I will forever be a Star Trek/Star Wars Nerd. And no, I will not ever choose between them. Both hold fond memories for me and I refuse to be forced into a category there.

Recently I’ve been working on an urban fantasy, which I suppose is still fantasy, so maybe that’s my calling after all.

Why this/these genre(s)? What attracts you to them?

Why fantasy?

Because I want desperately to believe in magic. I mean, I love elves and dragons and epic story lines where good and evil clash and the fate of the world is at stake. But underneath all that is just a little girl who wants to believe the trees are alive with memory and sprites are hiding under mushrooms.

Why science fiction?

Because I want to believe humanity can and will populate other planets. I want to believe that we can put aside our political/religious/cultural differences and work together to survive outside of Earth’s atmosphere. And if I can make myself believe it on the page, then maybe others will believe it too.

Generally speaking, what is the driving force behind your characters? Have any of your characters changed in dramatic way from what you imagined at the start during the writing process?

I’m going to concentrate on Seach Barlow, who is a protagonist in the Tapped series. This character was meant to be a major character, but not a main one. Then he sort of stole the heroine’s heart and hijacked the storyline and now it’s anyone’s guess what is going to happen. Personally, I enjoy Seach and don’t mind. He’s a good man who wants to protect the family that he and Jorry have made, and he has a sense of humor.

What do you find the most difficult in finishing a story and approximately how long does it take for you to write a story?

Each story is different. Some of them come to their endings naturally, others… not so much. Usurper’s ending was natural, with Kaden Dyngannon making the deliberate choice to go after the throne. That said, it took me a great deal of time to get there because I discovered I was writing two books instead of one.

The book I’m currently inching my way through was started eight months ago, but I’m on the third draft now so that really isn’t as long as it seems. The fight scenes at the end are what cause hiccups for me. I can only manage 500-600 words per writing session because I have to concentrate on all the movements and chaos and find a way to make it personal to the point of view character.

Are there other types of writing you do such as non-fiction, or short fiction?

I try to write short fiction between novels. It gives my brain a break and allows me to stretch different writing-muscles. That said, I can’t seem to do flash fiction. It boggles me.

Has your writing affected you in any way and what would you recommend to someone wanting to start writing fiction?

I am a bit weird. I am often writing in the effort to understand people. If I observe someone behaving in a manner that makes no sense to me, I will try writing a character that behaves that same way in the effort to understand them.

For example, I heard a story once about a sister who was stripping the rings off her dying mother’s fingers so that no one else could have them. This boggled my mind so badly that I had to write the scene out from her perspective because it couldn’t just have been greed motivating that action.

Before you ask, I do not have a sister. And my mother is quite alive. So, this has no personal relevance to me, but I needed to understand it just the same. That said, I’m sure you can see that my writing always has an affect on me. It helps me make sense of the world we live in.

To those wanting to start writing fiction I would have to say; don’t forget to have fun with it. We give all these rules and we get frustrated by editing time and we get a little green with jealousy when we see the success of other writers, and we bemoan ourselves as the worst authors in the world because the work isn’t meeting the standard we want it to, and in the middle of all that we forget to have fun. Enjoy the journey. Learn from it. Let it affect you the way you want it to affect your readers. And don’t forget your family wants time with you too.


Rhobin said...

Oh, AJ! Your mention of the woman stripping rings off her dying mother reminded me of my grandmother's neighbor. While she was at her husband's funeral, his children from a previous marriage were in their father and step-mother's house moving out furniture and belongings. People are sometimes very hard to understand. I understand wanting to write about such events in stories. Hmmm... good topic for Round Robin's upcoming December post.

Rhobin said...

P.S. Enjoyed your reasons for writing fantasy and scifi -- I totally agree. Enjoyed your comments.

AJMaguire said...

Thanks for the great questions! I had a lot of fun with it.

As to the woman who nabbed her mother's rings... I like to believe she didn't want to lose her mother, that taking the rings was somehow a means of hoarding her mother before she was lost. But, as I age and observe more of the world, I'm afraid it might have been a sense of entitlement instead.

Which I find supremely disheartening.

I suppose it says something about me that it took 40 years before disillusionment could reach me. Still, I'm fighting to keep a positive attitude and give people the benefit of the doubt.

Historical Writer/Editor said...

Hello, it seems we have a lot in common...attitudes about spiders, cats, and Star Wars/Star Trek. Also, I like your ideas about tales holding possible solutions. And having fun. And a lot more! Good luck with your writing. Great interview. -lara m.

Veronica said...