Then and Now: Margaret Scott, author of Between You and Me

between FINAL COVER_Between you and me

This month, I am delighted to welcome debut author, Margaret Scott, to my ‘Then and Now’ feature. Margaret’s novel ‘Between You and Me’, published by Poolbeg, was launched last month and has been riding high in the Irish bestsellers lists. I asked Margaret to share an insight into her path to publication. As ever, I’m sure her responses to my questions will be great inspiration for any writer struggling to finish that first draft!

What was the pivotal moment for you in the last 12 months?

So many things have happened, but to be quite serious, the pivotal moment was finishing the book. Finishing it and knowing that it was as good as I could make it. So many people waste time worrying about getting published but are nowhere near finished their first, let alone subsequent, drafts. And the only way to finish is to sit at your computer, block out as much of the outside world as you can, and write. I even gave up alcohol for the year as my weekend mornings were getting too precious to be losing to hangovers! There are only so many hours in the day, so don’t waste them. Tell people you’re writing and enlist help from wherever you can find it. Also, be careful who you show your
manuscript to, advice from the wrong person, no matter how good their intentions, can be misguided and off-putting. It definitely helped that I instantly clicked with my agent and her advice on putting the final sheen on my manuscript was both correct and welcomed.

What was the high point of the last twelve months?

The ‘first’ high point was definitely securing an agent. I knew from studying the industry that this was definitely going to be an advantage in getting that elusive deal. And then, that day in early September when I got an email from my agent saying that Poolbeg were interested, was possibly the best day I ever could have imagined. It was several weeks before I could tell the world at large that ‘Between You and Me’ was going to be published, as I waited until after I’d met Paula Campbell at Poolbeg, in person, before saying a word. I suppose I’ve always been hesitant to broadcast any news until it was set in stone as there was always the chance something would fall through. Since then there’s been so many high points ; seeing my cover for the first time, having various pieces published in the newspapers, getting my book ‘in real life’ for the first time and most recently, finding out I’d made No 5 in the Irish Times Best Seller’s List.

What is the most important thing you have learnt about your writing during the last twelve months?

This is probably going to sound awful, but that people like it! As a writer, or maybe its just me, I spend my time riddled with self doubt and anxiety. Already, even given the success of ‘Between You and Me’ I’m wondering can I do it all again. But the good reviews and messages from readers are helping to dispel some of the self-doubt, though I’m a long way from ‘cockiness’ still. All I want is for people to enjoy what I write, to get a giggle or a smile. Life is hard enough for everyone these days…

What are your hopes for the next twelve months?

I’ll start with what I definitely have to do – and that’s to write two more books! I’ve already started on book two and would ideally like to start book three hot on its heels. One thing I’ve learned in the publishing industry is that nothing happens in a hurry until the eleventh hour and then its all hands on deck so I’m hoping I’ll be better prepared for that onslaught this time.

I’d also love to write a play and have had an idea in my head for one for a few months now. It would be a total departure from novel writing and I’m not even sure where to start, but Between You and Me, that’s never stopped me before…!!

About the author

Margaret Scott

Margaret Scott is a writer, an accountant and a mother to two little girls. She lives in Kildare with her husband Keith Darcy, four dogs, two cats, two donkeys, a pony and a rabbit. An avid fan of social media she can be found on Twitter @mgtscott and on facebook atwww.facebook.com/margaretscottauthor and at her own website www.margaretscottdarcy.com

Click here to view my previous ‘Then and Now’ guest author Mel Sherratt.

I am a writer

snowflakes2

I recently entered a writing competition run by Carousel Writers, a writing centre and writer’s retreat in the Dublin mountains. The prompt was ‘I am a writer’ and the challenge was to write 300 words on that subject. Having received some pretty crushing writing-related news earlier that week, I didn’t feel like much of a writer at all. I didn’t feel like writing one word, let alone 300, or an entire novel! But I wrote my 300 words. And guess what – I won the competition!

Here’s my winning entry and thanks so much to Carolann Copland for running the competition. I’m looking forward to hiding away and writing, writing, writing!

I am a writer

Ahead, I see only the dazzling, brilliant white of unexplored terrain; virgin, clear and crisp. I blink and stare; wait for my eyes to adjust in the pre-dawn light. Then I begin.

Step by tentative step, I traverse the page, conscious of the notorious Cliffs of Self Doubt which stand ominously to my left. I press on, ignoring the endless chatter from the River of Clichés which runs alongside me. I step confidently over the Boulders of Poor Dialogue which lie straight ahead. Somehow, I circumnavigate all these obstacles, my characters leading the way, until we reach a fork in the road and they stop.

‘Which way now?’ I cry, urgently. ‘Which way?’

They turn to me. ‘We don’t know,’ they shrug. ‘It’s up to you.’

It’s up to me.

I hesitate, uncertain which direction to take; unsure of my footing on either of the roads ahead. I gaze hopefully up at the clouds above, willing them to help me. And then it comes.

A single, fragile flake of inspiration drifts gently down and settles on my hand; the thrilling sensation of idea wonderful against my skin. Then, more delicate flakes settle all around me, each one a word, a sentence, a perfect paragraph.

I turn to my left. ‘This way,’ I cry. ‘Quickly, it’s this way!’

We run together, my characters and I, words tumbling through my mind, my frozen fingers reaching out to grasp them before they disappear  forever.

*

Sometimes, I am an arctic explorer crossing a barren wilderness. Sometimes, I am a passenger scrambling towards the last lifeboat on the Titanic. Sometimes, I am a wretched little girl, clutching a bunch of violets on the filthy streets of Victorian London.

Today, I am all of these things.

Today, I am a writer.