In the mood for some historical romance, I recently read “The Duke’s Holiday” by Maggie Fenton and loved it. (If you have Amazon Unlimited, you can read for free here: myBook.to/TheDukesHoliday )
I was delighted when Ms. Fenton agreed to do an interview. Here it is!
What was your favorite subject in school?
I hated grade school and high school—I was perpetually bored and disaffected (child of the nineties here). I was a major bookworm, though. I spent most of my school life reading books under my desk that I’d brought from home.
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you like to read – who or what inspired you to love reading?
I think it helped that my mom is a schoolteacher. Self-education was always a priority, and she did everything she could to keep me in books. She’d take me to the library at least twice a week.
What was your favorite story or character that you have written?
My favorite character is the Viscount Marlowe. He’s been a side character in the first two books of the Regency Romp Trilogy, but in the third book he is the star. His story’s been building up over the last two books, and I can’t wait to reveal all! He’s not exactly the model romantic leading man, but never judge a hero by his cover—or his beer gut!! I also have a soft spot for Aunt Anabel, who is featured in all three books. She just seems to get more irascible and vulgar every time she appears on the page.
How long did it take you to write “The Duke’s Holiday?”
The Duke’s Holiday wrote itself, pretty much, in about two or three months. Then I put it away in a drawer and didn’t take it out for about six years. When I decided to dust it off, I did another few weeks’ work on it before I self published it.
Did you hit any walls or periods of writer’s block while writing “The Duke’s Holiday?”
I sort of vomited up The Duke’s Holiday—but not in a gross way. It was the easiest book I’ve ever written—probably because I wrote it with no real intention of ever publishing it, so it was all just a labor of love. The last few books I’ve written, both as Maggie Fenton and Margaret Foxe, my alter-ego, have been the first time I’ve ever struggled with writer’s block. I am definitely not one of those people who can be disciplined about daily word counts. If it’s on, it’s on. If not, then…well, I’m still working on that in between binge-watching Supernatural and Sherlock.
What keeps you motivated to write when you do hit a wall?
I’ve been hitting a lot of walls in the past year, which is a new experience for me. I think one of the reasons is because writing is my actual job now, not just something I do for fun. I am still working out strategies that work for me, but the thing that motivates me the most to keep on trucking through my current project is my fans. And Viscount Marlowe. He really deserves his HEA.
Do you outline your books ahead of time or just go for it?
What are outlines? 🙂
Do you have a special writing space?
I write on my couch or my bed. Or sometimes in the car on the back of a napkin when I have a burst of inspiration.
What time of day to you prefer to write?
I’m a night owl. Mornings suck.
Do you write full time or part time?
I am lucky enough to write full time these days. I have been thinking of getting a part time job anyway, just to get out of my pajamas the house. Before my success as a writer, I had at least two or three jobs going, so it’s been kind of a shock to the system not to be running around like a madwoman all day. Not that I’m complaining. I have the best job in the world.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Was it a gradual decision or did you just suddenly know?
I’ve always written. I wrote my first book about a mouse named Patches when I was seven. I never thought I would actually make a living doing it, though. It was always just a hobby—an obsessive hobby, but a hobby nevertheless. I went through university and graduate school with the intention of being an English professor. However, midway through my PhD, I decided to take another route and return to my other love, music. I made a living for many years as a piano and violin teacher (and a cheesemonger, and a server, and a line cook…). Just before I started to self publish, I went back to school and got my MM in Piano Performance with the intention of teaching music at the university level. But after the success of The Duke’s Holiday, I was able to make writing my “real” job.
What made you want to tell your own stories? What made you decide to write in your genre?
When I was in my late twenties, I discovered the historical romance genre. I suppose I’d always steered clear of any “romance” genre fiction because I’d been told that it had a (very unfounded) stigma attached to it for being anti-feminist. I was quickly proven wrong. The books I began to devour were filled with strong women and intelligent, witty writing—and happily ever afters, something I really needed in my life. Discovering this genre felt like coming home, and I couldn’t get enough. I still can’t. I was so inspired and empowered by this genre that after reading what seemed like thousands of these books, I decided to write my own.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Don’t give up. Self publish. Years ago, right after I wrote The Duke’s Holiday, I was so proud of what I’d done that I queried the crap out of agents and publishers. No one wanted it, however, which kind of destroyed all of my mojo. I gave up on trying to be a published writer for about six years after that. Then a friend mentioned self-publishing, and I decided to try it out. I didn’t even publish The Duke’s Holiday at first either. Instead, I published my steampunk book, Prince of Hearts. It was hardly a smash hit, but it got my feet wet and built up my confidence. About a year later, when I was writing my third steampunk book, I decided on a whim to publish The Duke’s Holiday, just to see if it could make me a few extra dollars. Because of all of its rejection in the past, I didn’t expect it to do well at all. I even made up another pen name because I was afraid of it tainting my Margaret Foxe brand. Needless to say, that didn’t happen, and the success of The Duke’s Holiday has allowed me to become a full time writer. I learned two important life lessons from my journey: don’t let rejection get you down, and don’t wait on others before seeking your own success.
Who are your favorite authors?
The writers that inspired me most in my genre are Loretta Chase, Tessa Dare, Georgette Heyer, Connie Brockway, Liz Carlyle, and Eloisa James.
What do you enjoy doing besides writing?
I love playing my Baldwin grand piano and hanging out with my two miniature schnauzers, Emma and Pearl.
Where can we get your books?
You can buy my books, audiobooks, and ebooks, both as Maggie Fenton and Margaret Foxe, on amazon.com. My print books as Maggie Fenton are also available on barnesandnoble.com, and my audiobooks can also be found on audible.com.
My website is www.maggiefenton.com
I will be signing books at the Moonlight and Magnolias Conference in Atlanta, GA, on Oct. 1st.