About author, Margaret Kaine: Born and educated in Stoke-on-Trent, the area known as the Potteries, a quiet yet imaginative girl I always had a dream of becoming a writer. But once married and living in Leicester, a family, two dogs and a career as a lecturer in further education, was a full-time occupation. It wasn’t until I had an ‘empty nest’, that I came to this wonderful world of writing fiction. I attempted short stories at first, gaining encouragement and constructive critiques from a writers’ workshop – I’d advise anyone to join a good one – and had my share of rejections, but eventually became published widely in women’s magazines in the UK, and also in Australia, Norway, South Africa and Ireland. Then obeying the maxim to ‘write about what you know’, I wrote Ring of Clay, set in the Potteries after WW2, continuing to write romantic sagas about life in the Potteries between the 50’s and 70’s, until another six books were published, translations including German and French. It was then that I felt the urge to venture in a different direction and gained enormous pleasure from writing Dangerous Decisions, a more cosmopolitan novel, set in the Edwardian Era, and a romantic historical suspense. Advance readers have said that it reminds them of Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs, which I regard as a great compliment.
Describe yourself in five words: loves family, writing, chess, croquet
When did you know you were a writer? I think I finally realised that I was a ‘proper’ writer, when my debut novel Ring of Clay won both the RNA’s New Writer’s Award in 2002, and the Society of Authors’ Sagittarius prize in 2003.
What is the writing/editing/publishing process like for you? I’m an organic writer, often beginning a novel with only a character and a vague idea of its theme. For me writing the story is a voyage of discovery in the same way that it is for a reader. I rather like editing, feeling a satisfaction as I prune unnecessary words and repetitions. I think this is where the skills I learned in honing short stories to a required length have proved invaluable. So far I’ve enjoyed the publishing process too with the excitement of the cover design – I absolutely love the one for Dangerous Decisions. Fortunately, during the process of editing and copy-editing all of my books, I have never been asked to make substantive changes. When the publication date finally arrives, it brings excitement tinged with apprehension. Will readers like it, will they think it is as good as the last one? And as I’m sure we all hope for our novels – is there a chance that it will become adapted for TV or as a film.
Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? I like them all, depending on what I’m doing at the time. I still like the feel of a hardback, find it easier to hold open than a paperback, it also looks good on the shelves and keeps its pristine appearance longer. A paperback is cheaper and perfect for the beach, while I find I tend to read an ebook before going to sleep. I like the way that if my eyes are tired that I can enlarge the font. I hope all formats continue to flourish.
How did you celebrate your first book being published? I was in Dublin on a book tour, and going into a high-class jewellers chose a beautiful gold pendant and chain. It’s still one of my favourite pieces.
Who is your favorite author? A tricky one this. My favourite reads seem to be governed by different phases of my life. As a young girl, it had to be Louisa M Alcott, because ‘Little Women’ had such an influence on me that I not only named my daughter after Jo March, but my first heroine was called Beth. Later, I loved Norah Lofts, Anya Seaton, Susan Howatch, Catherine Cookson and the Jilly Cooper early novels. Now, I tend to try to keep up with contemporary writers, constantly impressed by the wealth of new writing talent out there.
What types of characters are your favorite to create? My instinctive answer is – the ones who explode on to the page!
It’s interesting how some characters – either male or female – come easily while others have to be teased into life. When I was writing Dangerous Decisions, I found Oliver’s flawed character fascinating to create. It can sometimes be difficult not to make a heroine too ‘perfect’. I then remind myself of Becky Sharpe in Vanity Fair.
As an author, do you have any rules for yourself? I do remind myself never to forget ‘my reader’. And to try and write a story where the reader will feel just as involved in as I do myself. In Dangerous Decisions for instance, the reader knows of traits in Oliver of which Helena is unaware, and so will – I hope – be anxious for her.
Where is your favorite place to write? I’m lucky in having my own study/refuge downstairs as I tend to write ‘as and when’, rather than in long stints at the computer, otherwise I’d have neck/shoulder/back problems. So even if I’m in the middle of cooking a meal for example and a perfect gem of a phrase comes to me, I can easily pop into my study. I do need my own space to lose myself in writing, and although I know some writers like to have music in the background, I work best in silence.
What do you want your readers to take away from your books? A feeling of escapism, of enjoyment, to have touched their emotions – nostalgia, laughter, tears – insights into relationships and of course romance. And from Dangerous Decisions perhaps all of the above, but also a sense of a glamorous and elitist world, yet one with underlying menace.
A writer must have a…passion to be published – it’s hard and takes determination – be imaginative, interested in people, and able to take on board constructive criticism.
Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects? I’m currently writing another novel set in the Edwardian era. The story is developing to follow three lives. Ella, brought to a London workhouse at the age of six after her mother was, she believes, murdered, and Rory, a clever young Irish youth, whose life is blighted by tragedy. Letitia, a wealthy spinster in her late twenties on a charitable impulse employs Ella as a scullery maid . . .
“Dangerous Decisions” by Margaret Kaine
Blurb of “Dangerous Decisions”:
Have you ever ignored a sense of unease?
Helena Standish knows that a good marriage would enhance her father’s social status but she’s wise enough not to accept any handsome fool. The wealthy and enigmatic Oliver Faraday is considered an ideal match, so why does Helena have faint misgivings?
Nicholas Carstairs has little patience with frivolous pleasure-seekers or an upper class that closes ranks against outsiders. Why then is he entranced by the lovely ‘girl in the window’ – a debutante who would appear to be both of those things?
A champagne celebration at Broadway Manor marks the start of a happy future for Helena, but no one can predict the perilous consequences of her decision or the appalling danger it will bring.