I am very excited to welcome Margaret James to my blog this morning. She has been taking part in a blog tour over the past month, talking about her latest novel, The Golden Chain, and today it is my turn!
Here is what she had to say:
(I am aware that the format of this post is wrong, but I cannot seem to change it. So my sincere apologies to Margaret, and anyone who reads this, for the sentences ending with half finished words. I have tried numerous things to alter this, but it doesn't seem to work. I hope this doesn't affect anyone's enjoyment of the post.)
Hello Margaret. I love the idea that The Golden Chain is like a 1930s take on Romeo and Juliet. It follows on from The Silver Locket, released November last year, and tells the story of Daisy Denham. Can you tell us a little bit about the story, and what we can expect from it?
This second novel in a trilogy is about falling in love for the very first time, and – like Romeo and Juliet – the hero and heroine are very young. When the story begins, the heroine Daisy is fifteen and, like many fifteen-year-olds, she doesn’t really know what she wants, or how to get it. In the course of the story, she makes lots of mistakes, breaks lots of promises, and has to do lots of growing up. She trusts and admires people who don’t deserve to be trusted or admired, and she hurts people she ought to love. But, by the end of the novel, she knows what she wants, and she has become much more likeable – or that was my intention, anyway!
While The Silver Locket was a very intense and dramatic novel with a wartime background, The Golden Chain is a lighter story in which nobody is going to be killed or wounded, at least not physically. The hero, Ewan Fraser, is an ambitious dreamer who hero-worships his dead father and wants to be a great actor. Ewan’s dream is to play Romeo and for Daisy to be his Juliet.
Daisy is a talented amateur who is swept along by Ewan’s enthusiasm. Daisy and Ewan join a company of touring actors, and Ewan thinks all his dreams have magically come true. But then Daisy falls for another man.
What inspired you to write a second book, following on from a previous one?
I wanted to continue the story of Alex and Rose Denham, who are the hero and heroine of The Silver Locket. At the end of this first book, Alex and Rose have found their own happy-ever-after, but I couldn’t bear to let them go. In The Silver Locket, Daisy is a minor character whose birth mother has been on the stage. Daisy herself has plenty of acting talent, and her adoptive parents Rose and Alex encourage her to use her talent – that’s until Daisy wants to do something of which Rose and Alex definitely don’t approve.
Is that something you personally enjoy to read - stories that develop previous characters further.
Yes, I love reading long stories in which the characters develop, grow up and grow older, and have children and even grandchildren of their own. I’m a big fan of Kate Tremayne’s Adam Loveday stories, and my own first three novels were a trilogy about a family. I often finish a novel hoping there’ll be a sequel. I enjoy crime series like Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie novels.
What sort of research went into this book?
The background of the story is the provincial theatre of the 1920s and 1930s, and I had a great time researching it. In those days, before television and before the great age of the talkies as opposed to the silent movies of the 1920s, there were literally hundreds of touring companies travelling up and down the country by train, playing for short seasons in often dilapidated theatres for audiences who wanted some light relief from the awful economic conditions of the time.
The actors and actresses themselves were often amazing characters, who seemed to spend their entire lives, both on-stage and off-stage, pretending to be someone else. The man who bedazzles Daisy and takes her away from Ewan is a liar and a fantasist for whom one reality isn’t enough, and who constantly reinvents himself.
Do you enjoy the researching part of writing a book?
I love doing research. I have to force myself to stop, and get on with some actual writing. When you’re a historical novelist, there’s always something more to find out, some little alley you haven’t explored, or some real life person who you can see would make a great minor character in your story. Google has made it so easy to spend days and weeks going click, click, click! Sometimes, I have to disconnect, so I can’t be tempted to go wandering off down various interesting byways yet again.
Do you have a favourite part of the book, maybe a section you enjoyed writing the most?
I enjoyed writing all of it, but if I had to choose my favourite section it would be the part near the beginning when Ewan and Daisy go off on tour with their first company, full of hope and inexperience, blissfully in love and assuming they’re going to have a great time. Of course, it’s not going to turn out like that, because lots of things are going to go wrong for them, just as they did for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
What made you choose The Golden Chain as a title?
The first book in the series is called The Silver Locket, and the locket itself is a gift from the hero to the heroine. It’s the same in The Golden Chain – Ewan gives Daisy a chain, which she promises she’ll keep forever.
Do you find it easy to come up with the names for your novels?
When at last I have a title for a novel, it’s obvious what this title should be. But thinking one up can take me weeks or even months. The story I’m writing at the moment doesn’t have a title yet.
What made you start writing romantic novels?
I like writing about families, and in families the younger members (and sometimes the older ones, too) tend to fall in love, often with the wrong person. When they do, the repercussions can be devastating, and I enjoy working out what might happen next. When we fall in love, we tend to go a bit crazy, and we certainly don’t listen to the wise advice of our parents and friends who want to save us from ourselves. Well, I never listened to it, anyway, and I don’t think my own children ever listen to me!
In real life, it’s great when someone falls in love with the right person and lives happily ever after. But in fiction it’s much more interesting for the reader if the author gives the characters a hard time. I enjoy writing stories in which my characters have a hard time, but are rewarded with lasting happiness in the end.
Thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog, Lucie. I’ve really enjoyed talking to you.
Thank you, Margaret, it has been lovely to talk to you.
The Golden Chain is out on May 1st and can be pre-ordered from Amzon now.
And now, for one of you lucky people, there is a chance to win a copy of the book.
Margaret has said that this book is like a 1930's take, on Romeo and Juliet. So we want to know, who would be your Romeo?
My Romeo, of course, would be none other than the absolutely gorgeous Gerard Butler. What? You need to see a picture? Well, OK then.....if you need to see it....