05 May Seven – with author Maggie Ritchie
Maggie Ritchie is an award-winning author and journalist who grew up in Zambia, Spain and Venezuela and lives in Glasgow with her husband, Michael, and their son. Her second novel, Looking for Evelyn, (Saraband) is published on June 22. Her first novel, Paris Kiss, won the Curtis Brown Prize and was well received in the UK and topped the bestseller list in Germany. ‘Seven’ is a snapshot into Maggie’s life collated from seven random sentences which I invited her to complete.
Growing up in the bush in Zambia had a big influence on me because it was such an adventure, and was the inspiration for my latest novel, Looking for Evelyn, about a forbidden inter-racial love affair set against political turmoil in Southern Africa.
Books are central to my life – I adore reading and I’m inspired by all those authors who stuck with it until they were published, despite the rejections and against the odds.
I learned so much from reading my favourite authors, Margaret Atwood, Nancy Mitford and Jean Rhys. They all write about interesting women who fight against the conventions of the time and the restrictions placed on them to try to live the life they want to lead. Margaret Atwood in The Handmaid’s Tale and in Alias Grace, Nancy Mitford in Pursuit of Love and Jean Rhys, tragically, in Wide Sargasso Sea, her prequel to Jane Eyre.
I enjoy writing novels and working as a journalist because I get to hear and tell people’s stories and dip into their lives.
A positive mindset is essential to achieving your dreams: if I’d paid attention to all the people who warned me how difficult it was to become 1) a journalist, and 2) a published author, I would have had an easier but less interesting career.
The smartest advice I can give a budding author is: take an idea that fascinates you and keep writing until you get to the end of the first draft – and then rewrite like mad.
Living in Glasgow is a real inspiration for a writer as it has such a vibrant culture, from Aye Write! to the wonderful museums, art gallerias, universities and libraries that are a rich seam to mine. There’s also a friendly literary scene with established and up-and-coming writers who are supportive and great company. They say that a writer’s life is an isolated one, but I’ve never been lonely or bored in this warm, lively city. If you want a chat all you have to do is step outside your front door and within a few minutes a stranger will be sharing their life story.
Discover more about Maggie and her novels here.