Up early on this Friday morning, knew the day would be another hot one, so I dash to my transporter to meet this week's author Margot Justes. Where? Well, I'll let her tell you as an introduction/answer to my first question.
1. Who is Margot Justes and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
I’m an author, and while researching my next novel, I found myself in the middle of the Sahara desert surrounded by nomads who cannot speak English. You came to interview me and report on progress of said research. I’m the only one who speaks English, doesn’t that make me fascinating? You had no one else to chat with, except with fascinating…me.
Oh, well, so much for getting away from the heat.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
Hmmm…the secret is out, I love to belly dance.
3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else as becoming a Supreme Court Justice?
I love to read and just recently started writing, and find it a magnificent escape from reality. The intrusion back to reality, if you will, is in the process of selling and marketing the manuscript.
4. Writers are readers. Which author (s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
That is tough, Oscar Wilde would be my first choice, his sense of humor in the absurdity of civility and social mannerism was impeccable. I would love to sit down and chat about his acerbic humor and take on society.
Dorothy Sayers would be another author I would love to have dinner with. Her exquisite and elegant use of the English language I always found enchanting, her perfect hero Lord Peter was captivating. I would have learned a great deal. Alas, they are both gone.
Contemporary author Elizabeth Peters, because she makes reading about archeology informative and exciting and you get a good mystery to boot. She easily reaches her audience even thought the subject of Egyptian archeology is not that common a topic or setting in the mystery genre.
Quite recently I started writing a paranormal romance, and I would love to sit down with Christine Feehan, because her characters are so varied, well developed and just plain fun.
Science is magic to me and I would love to meet anyone who can explain gravity to me (in very simple terms, because it is, after all done with smoke and mirrors.) and why we don’t fall off the face of the earth.
5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book (s) be great company?
It’s a delightful, adventurous and romantic tale set in Paris. I love the city and got the point across well. I’ve been told by readers that I made Paris come alive for them, and I could receive no better compliment.
The thirty second pitch defines the story…art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life. You have Paris, romance, art, murder and mayhem and of course more romance.
6. Share the Justes process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number or rewrites.
I really don’t have a process. I try to write a little every day. I still work full time. Weekends, if left alone are my most productive times. If I’m stuck I go back and read the previous chapters, make changes and that usually allows me to continue. Editing and rewrites are all part of that same process.
I love to travel and because I set my books internationally, I visit the places. Google can provide facts but not the essence of a place…that you must experience.
A writer should have a personal touch, a connection to the place and a certain attention to detail. You should feel the pulse of the place, that intimate experience of walking in the Luxembourg gardens, hearing the crunch of gravel beneath your feet. Or visit the Rodin museum and walk through the gardens, stop by and visit the Thinker, sit on the bench and assume his stance and ponder your own existence. Goggle will provide the facts and images, but I need that personal connection to a place I write about.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?"
That is a difficult question to answer. I’ve never written anything ‘paranormal’ but an agent said can you write about a vampire and art? At first I thought no, I’ve never done anything like this. But I do love a challenge, came home and thought about it, and came up with an idea. Leonardo da Vinci, the incomparable Renaissance man meets an obsessive art collector who happens to be a vampire. I think you just need to think about it a bit and start somewhere, you can always go back and change. Nothing is cast in stone, just a computer, key board with an easily accessible delete button. Although, I never delete my scenes, I just save them for future use.
8. I saw a great T-shirt the other day which read, ‘ Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.’ What is your philosophy of life?
Wow. Do you want an answer in one sentence or less? This could be a thesis. Take a chance and do what you most want to do. Fear should not lead you and failure should not guide you. Do not be afraid of failure, if you don’t try, you will never succeed. I’m sure someone said that at some point, somewhere. Just because you haven’t done it before doesn’t mean you can’t. Challenge is a terrific learning experience.
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?
I love writing and have no intention of stopping. I finished my second novel A Hotel in Bath, a novella that will turn into a novel very soon, A Fire Within and I also hope to finish with my vampire story Blood Art by year end. I have started A Hotel in Venice but put it on hold for a bit. I want to finish the paranormal story.
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
I have a website www.mjustes.com I have a blog http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
I am on Facebook, Twitter, all the required social networks.
Stephen, thank you very much for the interview, it was fun to do. Once I’m done with my research in the desert, we can meet in Cairo, go to Giza and ride a camel on the way to see the Pyramids. Something I will be doing next year…