Today I'm excited to have author Margaret Chatwin as a guest on our blog! Read on to find out all about Margaret and her books, including her novel 101, which will be up for review in Read It & Reap soon!
How do you get desperately needed answers when no one is talking? Who do you trust in a place full of criminals, a place where it’s easy to mistake friends for enemies and enemies for friends? And how is it possible for one girl to seemingly vanish into thin air, especially when the place is surrounded by sixteen foot high electric fences?
When Trigg and his sister Ren are sentenced to township 101 for the crime of defending themselves, and Ren suddenly comes up missing, Trigg must ask himself these same questions.
Something else he’d like to know is, how do you survive when the flaws of the NAO’s justice system has turned a simple punishment into a game of life or death?
Sweet so Fragile
During a robbery, Jace Sullivan’s wife, Cari, was murdered. If that wasn’t bad enough, she was seven months pregnant when it happened. Though medics were able to save the child, the unfavorable circumstances behind the premature delivery has left baby Colton with severe health issues.
Now, while trying to pick up the pieces of his own shattered life, Jace must watch helplessly as his son desperately fights to keep his fragile life. Meanwhile, his teenage daughter, Jorry, seems to be carelessly throwing hers away.
Taking the Fall
Karen Hill does not need a hero clad in shining armor! She has never been saved by anyone except herself, and the last thing she needs is Michael Tanner claiming he’s going to save her now. Save her from what? As far as she’s concerned, he’s the only thing she needs saving from! Under Cover Narcotics Officer Mike Tanner is accustomed to being patient. Waiting and watching to see how things will play out. During his latest case, he has discovered that SharShay Cosmetic Company is distributing a major amount of pure cocaine and that the owner of the company, Miss Hill, is oblivious to it all. He’s content to let it stay that way, until a naive comment she makes put her life – and his – in jeopardy.
~ Interview with Margaret Chatwin ~
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Humm. I guess in a way I kind of always knew. Or I should say the imagination behind writing has always been there. This will date me, but there use to be this TV show called Emergency. It was about some firemen and the exciting calls they got sent on. I was pretty young at the time, probably around five or six, but I’d watch that show then go lay down (my creativity always flows better when I’m horizontal.) I’d pretend I was Johnny and Roy going on all these new adventures that I’d dream up. Dang, I’ve never told anyone that before. My face and neck are feeling very hot right now.
I’m still doing it, only now it’s original characters that I’ve created myself.
As far as putting the pen to the paper to document my habit – I was thirteen. I’ve been writing ever since, although until about a year ago I’ve kept my writing very private because I’ve been so embarrassed. It’s kinda like letting someone read my diary. Someone can get right inside my skull when they read my work. My only saving grace is that when I write it never comes out with as much vivid detail as it has when it plays through my head. I might be labeled as a weirdo if it did.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
When I write, all time stands still. It almost feels like I’ve been asleep. I can start writing then snap-to some time later and realize I just spent three, or more, hours in front of the computer screen. Any spare second I have is spent writing. It’s the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night. I know a few people that it drives crazy, but I’m certainly not one of them. :)
When I’m in “write” mode, even the slightest little thing can spark an idea. Which I then have to immediately jot down because my memory wore out a long time ago. So I have 3,229 Post-it notes, scrap papers, even napkin corners, scattered from here to . . . you know . . . that bad place that starts with an H.
Ideas come at the most inappropriate times too. True story: I was driving down the road listening to the radio when a line in the song made me think of something cool. In my haste to scramble for paper and pen I failed to use my turn signal and . . . yep, you guessed it . . . Johnny Law circled round like a Vulture after dead meat.
“Ma’am, do you know why I pulled you over?”
I answered him with a stupid, innocent-looking stare of silence. I think I may have even batted my eyelashes just for good measure.
“Do your blinkers even work?” He pops his head all the way inside my car to find out.
“Yes, Sir,” I mumble with humiliation. “The blinkers work, just not the driver.”
Where did you come up with the ideas behind 101?
Three things factored into that, really. The first was a book. Although 101 has nothing to do with religion, I actually got part of the idea from a religious based history book. The story followed two groups of people that were constantly at war with one another. The one group just wanted to live their lives in peace, but the bullies living across the way couldn’t seem to leave them alone.
The second thing, and the thing that helped me come up with the idea of the NAO, (which is a new form of justice system) is that I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of mercy and forgiveness. Some people lack it and I started to wonder what life would be like if everyone jumped to conclusions. If no one ever got a chance to explain, and if we were instantly punished for our crimes.
The third thing is that I’ve always believed in the power of one. One person CAN make a difference, either for good or bad. Take Thomas Edison or Hitler for example. Each was only one person but look what an impact they had on the world.
You may think you’re just some little nobody, but you’re not. You have amazing abilities. I just wanted to illustrate that in my book 101.
Do you have a favorite character from 101? Which character did you have the most fun writing?
My favorite character by far is Trigg. I just really like how sure he is of himself, yet it’s in such a humble way. He’s a dude of conviction. He knows what he wants and goes for it with all his might. And no matter how many times he gets knocked down, (which is a lot) he just gets right back up and keeps on going. I wish I could be more like him.
I had the most fun writing the character of Ace, though. I know that sounds strange, him being the “bad guy” and all, but I enjoyed it.
When I first wrote the manuscript for this book, (way back in the old days; I’m talking the mid-90's) Ace was just your stereotypical jerk. But when I rewrote the story last year in order to get it ready for publication, I decided to tip him on his head. Make him a jerk in a unique kind of way. That’s all I’m saying about him. People will have to read the book to figure out what I mean.
It was fun, and quite refreshing for me as a writer, to work with a character in such a non-traditional way.
Is there someone in your life who inspired you to write? Was there another author or a teacher who encouraged you?
My interest in writing has always been inspired by my inability to find the kind of books I want to read. A book has to catch me in the first few pages or else I’ll never be able to finish it. It has to make me FEEL something – good, bad, ugly, it doesn’t matter. I just want the words to touch me somehow, and not a lot of them have, so, to be honest, I really don’t read a ton. I’ve always written my own books as a substitute to reading.
I have found a few authors that I really love, though, and S.E. Hinton is one of them. As a teen, her writing seemed to be exactly what I was searching for. She wrote the way I wanted to write – wrote what I wanted to read.
But by far I think my biggest encouragement to write has come from my younger sister, Laura Chatwin, who has a few of her own books published.
Because of her I finished story after story.
Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do to get over it?
Oh, ouch, you hit a sore spot with that question! Just a sec, I have to go get a Band-aid.
Okay, I’m back.
I’ve had writers block for the last ten years. It totally sucks! Well, maybe not a full out block, because I still have tons of ideas pop into my noggin, but I haven’t finished a single story in that amount of time. I’ve started dozens of them, some I even get a hundred pages into, but then the bottom just drops right out of it. You should see all the precarious situations I’ve left my characters in. One was lost in a jungle with poisonous blow darts flying, left and right, past his head. It’s just a mighty good thing he isn’t real, he’d have reason to seek a little revenge on me if he was.
As of yet, I haven’t figured out how to break the block. Not sure if I’m over-thinking things, or what. Anyway, when I’m not painting myself into a bran new corner, I stay busy by tweeking the you-know-what out of my old stories. Modernizing them and getting them ready for print. I’ve really enjoyed doing that, so maybe writers block isn’t so bad after all. Wait! Yes it is.
What were your feelings when you first saw the finished product of your book?
To be honest, I didn’t like my cover so I was kinda bummed out. I went back to the drawing board on it, but didn’t like the second version either. This is now the third cover and I’m still not totally sold on it. But maybe some day, when the perfect one presents itself, I’ll change it again.
101 is the third book I’ve published so I wasn’t so excited that I could have done back flips, but I have to admit, it’s still pretty surreal to see my words in print and be able to actually hold a book that I wrote.
Would you do anything differently if you could start over?
I don’t think so. I learned the hard way with my first two books so 101 was pretty smooth sailing. Smooth sailing equals less stress, less stress equals less headaches and I’m not a big fan of pain.
I don’t really have many regrets in my life or with my books. Yes, I’ve messed up big time on more than one occasion, but I’ve been lucky enough to be the type of person who can just chalk it up to, “won’t do that again,” and move on. In most cases I wouldn’t trade the knowledge and understanding I’ve gained from my mistakes for the chance to redo it.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I went to a trade show about two years ago – you know, those ones where you go from booth to booth collecting all the free loot in your little bag? (Kinda like Trick-or-Treat for adults.) Anyway, I entered a bunch of drawings and what-do-ya-know, I won a flat screen TV. Awesome! Except I’ve only turned it on a handful of times. I’m just not much into watching TV.
I write for my entertainment.I write for most of my socialization. I’m quite a shy person and because of that I don’t play well with the other kids. :) But I’m really in my element when I write. I’m somehow able to let my personality show through. I can create my own friends, too, and have these amazing, in-depth relationships with them. Okay, that’s totally pathetic and I shouldn’t have admitted it in public.
Writing has always been very therapeutic for me, as well. I’m able to voice my opinion, vent my frustrations, admit my faults, and celebrate my victories. I can make sense of ME when I write. I think that’s because each character is a small part of my personality – magnified. I can make an entire villain out of that one little streak of mean that I harbor inside. It allows me to really explore all the things that make me, me.
I can be very free and open with my emotions when I write, and it sure does evoke a lot of them. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, and I’ve probably even thrown a thing or two over the years.
What book are you reading now?
I’m not currently reading anything. Boring, I know, but it’s the truth.
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