Interview With Maggi Andersen
Susana: What inspired you to start writing?
Maggi: I needed little inspiration I remember writing at a very young age. When I had the time to devote to a career in writing, I took it up seriously.
Susana: How long have you been writing?
Susana: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Maggi: Patience is something writers need in spades, although these days it’s not nearly as bad as it was years ago, when we had to post everything and wait months for a reply. It takes time to find your voice and learn your craft though. Don’t be too hasty sending off your work. Make sure it’s as perfect as you can get it. Put it aside for as long as you can and then look at it with new eyes. You’ll be surprised at the mistakes you’ll find, and what you can see to improve it. Wait a few weeks if you can. Another example of why we need patience! J
Susana: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Maggi: No, never. I don’t believe in it. If I run out of ideas, I just start writing. The creative brain kicks into action and something will come. You can always edit the first draft. You can’t edit a blank page.
Susana: What comes first: the plot or the characters?
Maggi: When I first began writing it was plot driven, but now the characters drive the story. Sometimes, without me at the wheel.
Susana: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Maggi: I tend to be a bit of both. I know the ending. It’s not hard it’s a romance! I plot a scene ahead but that can change as the characters lead me off somewhere surprising. I like the panster element in my writing because it can go off on tangents I would never have thought of plotting the story. A spy story or mystery needs more plotting. I like to end up with a reasonable first draft.
Susana: Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
Maggi: Flynn, Lord Montsimon is playing the game of a rake due to the hurt he suffered as a child in Ireland. It takes a woman like Lady Althea Brookwood to show him his true feelings and melt his heart. My inspiration for Flynn came from Errol Flynn, the Australian actor. Despite his racy reputation, Flynn was known to be a cultured gentleman. I love his movies, who doesn’t like Captain Blood?
Susana: Are you working on something at present that you would like to tell us about?
Maggi: I’m writing another Regency series, The Baxendale Sisters. The first is Lady Honor’s story. The book is titled: Honor’s Debt.
Susana: What are you reading now?
Maggi: Not a historical. Slow Hand by Victoria Vane. It’s great!
Susana: What author or authors have most influenced your writing?
Maggi: Surprisingly, Harlan Coben. A suspense writer can learn a lot from the way he crafts his stories. My love of historials came from Georgette Heyer, Victoria Holt, Eloisa James and Jane Austen. I like Julia Quinn and Anna Campbell too.
Susana: What is your work schedule like when writing?
Maggi: I spend long hours at my desk every day. (My husband is retired from the law and does the cooking). I don’t write at night, I join him to watch something on the television or read.
Susana: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Maggi: I dreamed of living in an English country village while writing. (My artist mother was born of English parents, and this was her dream too) I now live in a quaint, Australian country village in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, where tourists come to see the spring gardens. And I spend my days writing, so I guess I’ve come close to living my dream.
Susana: What is your favorite food? Least favorite? Why?
Maggi: My love of all kinds of cheeses, which comes from my Danish father. Least favorite, any kind of offal. I remember my Dad loved brains and my mother would cook them for him on his birthday. Yuk!
Susana: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
Maggi: My first job was in a bank, and for a creative person like me, I found it difficult and boring. I can balance a check book though.
Susana: Is there a writer you idolize? If so, who?
Maggi: I’d have to say Mary Stewart who died recently in her 90s. She was a poet and wrote the first romantic suspense novels. I have her entire library.
Question for the Readers: What problem didn’t occur to Althea when she chose the gown she wore?
About What a Rake Wants
King George sends his private investigator, an Irishman, Kieran Flynn, Lord Montsimon, on a mission, the reason for which is unclear. Is it a plot against the Crown? Or something entirely unrelated? Flynn’s inquiries lead him to the widow, Lady Althea Brookwood. Known amongst the ton as a rake, Flynn is rarely turned down by a lady, and when Althea refuses not just him but many other men, he becomes intrigued.
After her neighbor, Sir Harold Crowthorne informs Lady Althea that he means to take her country property, Owltree Cottage, by fair means or foul, she must search for help. The first man she turns to is promptly murdered and the second lies to her. That leaves Flynn, Lord Montsimon, a man she has been studiously avoiding. But Montsimon is decidedly unhelpful, and more than a little mysterious. Her only option is to seduce him. Lady Althea has little confidence that she will succeed, especially as before her husband was killed in a duel, he often told her she was quite hopeless at intimacy.
When a spy is murdered, Flynn wonders just what Althea knows and what her involvement might be with the man the king wants Flynn to investigate.
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(Lord Montsimon and Lady Althea Brookwood are forced to share a bed for the night.)
The attic room had a low, sloping ceiling. A green hook rug covered the floor and a jug, basin, and towels had been placed on the tall dresser. A straight-backed chair sat in the corner and the bed against the far wall. Mrs. Fletcher’s description of the bed had been accurate: the small wooden bedstead was covered in a bright quilt and not designed for two. Althea stared at it, her throat tight with dismay, as Montsimon shut the door. His nearness in the small space was overwhelming.
Seemingly unaffected, Montsimon peeled off his coat and sat on the feather-filled mattress, which sank visibly under his weight. He looked annoyingly at home. He tugged at his cravat then undid the buttons on his shirt to reveal a strong throat and a glimpse of dark chest hair. She took in the male strength, the cleanliness and beauty of him and turned away to fuss with her cloak before hanging it over the chair.
“Would you help me off with my boots?”
“I’m hardly a valet,” she said, sounding peevish.
“Not as strong, but we shall manage,” he said with a grin. His waistcoat joined his coat on the chair. How much was he going to remove? She wished her breath would slow.
Althea took hold of the mud-splashed, black leather Hessian boot and pulled. It didn’t budge.
“Perhaps a bit harder?”
Annoyed by his manner, she gave a violent yank. The boot slid down Montsimon’s well-defined calf so fast she fell onto her derriere on the hard plank floor.
“Are you all right?” His grin widened as he leapt up.
“Perfectly.” She waved his hand away and climbed to her feet, resisting a rub of the damaged area. “Your other foot if you please.”
“If you’re sure?” he asked with a burst of laughter.
With a dismissive scowl, she planted her feet and taking a firm hold of the boot, eased it down more gradually. It slid off his leg without further mishap. There was something disturbingly intimate about his broad chest encased in white linen, the form-fitting grey trousers and his big stockinged feet. Had she ever seen Brookwood this way? He always came to her chamber dressed in his banyan and slippers. And she had dreaded the sight of him.
Montsimon stood, ducking his head under a beam. “You’ll never manage that dress on your own.”
She crossed her arms. “I’m keeping it on.”
“Such a pretty gown was meant for a drawing room, not for sleeping in.”
“Nevertheless, I shall sleep in it.” She perched on the chair and took off her shoes.
He frowned. “Give me a look at those.”
“Why?” She handed them to him.
He turned a shoe over in his big hands. The sole of one had worn through. “These are about to fall apart. I had no idea you wore such flimsy shoes.”
“They are meant for drawing rooms, my lord. As is my dress.”
“That gown will look like a rag in the morning. As you have nothing else to change into, you will have to bear it until we return to London.”
Why did he so often make sense? She brushed down her skirts, which were already dreadfully crushed, and was forced to agree. She wasn’t a shy, green girl; she just didn’t want to inflame Flynn’s passions. It would take very little, she suspected. But her underwear covered her and was perfectly modest. “The bed is too small. A gentleman would sleep in the chair.”
His eyebrows flew up. “It’s made of wood.”
He flapped a hand in dismissal. “I intend to sleep in that bed, my lady. Where you choose to sleep is entirely up to you. I’m going downstairs to wash at the pump. While I’m away, you can undress and hide beneath the covers.” He paused, one hand on the doorknob. “Again, do you require help to undo those impossible little buttons at your back?”
“Odd that this problem didn’t occur to me when I chose to wear it.” Her lips puckered in annoyance. While they were arguing, what remained of the night was passing. She turned her back. “If you will.” If he treated her like a servant, she would do likewise.
Her hair had begun to escape the topknot, and she swept it up out of the way, scattering pins. She tingled under the gentle touch of his fingers as they moved down her back. Her gown fell away. “What are you doing?”
“Unlacing your stays. You can’t sleep in this uncomfortable garment!”
“I had intended to,” she said, pulling away as he tugged at the laces. Too late, she felt them give.
“You have lovely hair, Althea,” he said softly.
His use of her name was very seductive. Her pulse skittered alarmingly. She spun around, clutching the bodice of her dress to her chest as her stays slipped to the floor.
Montsimon looked her up and down, warm approval in his gaze.
She backed away from him, longing for the shelter of darkness. “Once I’m in bed, shall I blow out the candle?”
“If you wish.” Montsimon closed the door behind him.
About the Author
Maggi Andersen lives with her lawyer husband in a quaint old town in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia. She began writing fiction after raising three children and studying for a BA and an MA in Creative Writing.
When not creating stories, Maggi reads, enjoys her garden, goes for long walks and feeds the local wildlife. Her six kookaburras (Australian Kingfishers) prefer to be hand fed.
An Amazon bestselling Regency author, Maggi writes in several genres, contemporary and historical romances and young adult novels. Having grown up reading Enid Blyton and Georgette Heyer, Maggi’s romances are filled with adventure, mystery or intrigue, but always with a happy ending.
Her latest releases:
The Spies of Mayfair Series
A Baron in Her Bed
Taming a Gentleman Spy
What a Rake Wants
Did you know that in the fifteenth century, only a few could afford glass windows? They became more common in the sixteenth but were still expensive. When people moved they took their windows with them! Tudor windows were small pieces of glass held together by strips of lead in a criss-cross or lattice pattern. To make a pane of glass, a blog of glass was blown into a cylinder-shaped bubble, which was placed on a cooling table. Then afer the bubble cooled, it was cut in half producing a small piece.
The poor, however, still had to make do with strips of linen soaked in linseed oil.
Hardwick Hall, owned by Dowager Countess of Shrewsbury, was famous for its Tudor windows. It inspired a rhyme: “Hardwick Hall more glass than wall.”