[Interview] Margaret Kaine

Award-winning romance novelist Margaret Kaine worked as a lecturer at further education colleges before deciding to focus on writing. Her short stories have been published in women's magazines in countries that include Australia, Norway, South Africa and Ireland. Her first novel, Ring of Clay, won the Romantic Novelists' Association New Writer's Award in 2002, and the Society of Authors' Sagittarius Prize in 2003.

Other novels include Rosemary (Poolbeg Press, 2003), A Girl of her Time (Coronet Books, 2004), Friends and Families (Hodder Paperback, 2006) and Roses for Rebecca, which is coming out in 2007.

Margaret Kaine spoke about her writing and what she strives to achieve with each new book.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I always wanted to write, but found it impossible when I was younger. Working as a lecturer in further education and with a young family, there just wasn't the time to devote to it. I began to write when my son left to go to university.

Who would you say has influenced you the most?

To be honest, I don't think any one person. But when I was younger, I used to love Catherine Cookson's novels.

How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?

I think my close contact, through teaching, with women of all ages and backgrounds has influenced my writing enormously.

What would you say are the biggest challenges that you face?

As with any published writer, that the next novel should be as good as, if not better than the last.

How do you deal with these?

By always being aware of the challenge.

What is your latest book about?

My most recently published novel, Friends and Families, tells the story of two girls, from different backgrounds, growing up in the inspiring period of the 1950s. It contrasts their family lives, and describes the social and moral climate of the time. When men and romance enter their lives, their close bond becomes more important than ever before. The novel has been described as a compelling love story - a feel-good book.

How long did it take you to write it?

I always allow myself 18 months to write a novel of 105,000 or 120,000 words.

Which aspects of the work that you put into the book did you find most difficult?

Perhaps trying to describe one of the minor characters, John. I wanted the reader to wonder whether he was autistic — a diagnosis which was virtually unknown at that time — yet only to give subtle hints.

Which did you enjoy most?

Writing about the ballroom scenes at Trentham Gardens, in Staffordshire. Such nostalgia for me as I met my own husband at a dance there in the 1950s.

What sets the book apart from the other things you have written?

I think it is the most light-hearted book I have written, and perhaps the most "romantic."

In what way is it similar?

With its descriptions of working-class life in the Potteries during that period.

What will your next book be about?

Roses for Rebecca, due to be published by Hodder & Stoughton in March 2007, begins with the story of a young woman left orphaned and homeless at the end of the Second World War. The book, set initially in the East End of London, describes how Rebecca, on the verge of happiness, encounters further tragedy. Left alone and pregnant, she faces an agonizing choice, and her courage then, and throughout the novel, is the main theme of the book.



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