Today I'd like to introduce you to Beth Moran whose debut novel Making Marion has just been published, check back later today to read Tanya's guest review.
Will Marion Miller find her heart's desire – and perhaps even love – in Robin Hood country?
Marion came to Nottinghamshire to discover her father’s mysterious past, but all she has to go on is a picture of her father dressed up, it would seem, as Robin Hood.
Whilst looking for somewhere to stay, she somehow finds herself on the wrong side of the reception desk at the Peace and Pigs campsite and, despite her horrible shyness, promptly lands herself a job.
It takes Marion all she’s got to come out of her shell and get to grips with life on a busy campsite, where the chickens seem determined to hinder her and an unfortunate incident with a runaway bike throws her into the arms of the beautiful, but deeply unimpressed, Reuben. However, Marion’s would-be boyfriend Jake and Reuben’s stunning fiancée Erica seem intent on thwarting any hint of romance between the two of them.
Can she really find peace, and perhaps even love, among the pigs?
Can you tell us a little bit about your debut book Making Marion?
Making Marion is about a troubled young woman, Marion, who flees her wretched life in Northern Ireland and comes to Sherwood Forest to try to find the secret of her dead father`s past. She ends up with a live in job at a campsite run by a remarkable woman, Scarlett. As she settles in to her new life, she begins to uncover the truth about her dad, while actually discovering a lot more about herself. It`s got a mystery, some humour and a sprinkle of romance, but ultimately is a story about hope.
Can you talk us through your publication journey?
I decided to write a book after a mid-30s crises that involved wondering when on earth I was going to get around to following my passion, and what on earth was my passion anyway? When I looked closely, I realised how I managed to wangle story telling into pretty much every part of my life. So I took one of my zillion book ideas, and decided to try one chapter and see what happened. What happened was I couldn`t stop. I wrote a children`s book because I thought that would be as many words as I could manage my first go. It got me an agent but not a publisher, and after two years, another children`s book and several near misses, I decided to take one last shot and write the book I would have done first time around if I had the courage. By now my agent had stopped work to have a baby, and I had realised just how tough it was to get a book deal, so keeping going took all my guts and determination. But I did my research, submitted Making Marion to Lion (and nowhere else – I had a feeling), and spent three months obsessively checking my emails and jumping up every time the phone rang until they finally offered me a deal.
Are you currently working on a new book? If so, are you able to tell us anything about it?
I`ve just sent off the first draft of my next book to my publisher, so I`m waiting with baited breath to hear what they think. Its working title is I Hope you Dance. It`s about a women who has to (very reluctantly) come back home and live with her parents after her partner dies. It`s also about starting again, first love, a bunch of fabulous women friends, a terrifying stalker and ballroom dancing.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
I try to write at least three days a week. On writing days, I usually start with a quick run, then make sure my kids have got themselves off to school before dealing with any emails and other day-to-day stuff that is pressing. Around 9.30 or 10 I settle down with a cup of tea and my laptop. The first thing I do is a quick edit of the previous day`s writing, to get myself back into the story. I then write almost solidly, with maybe a couple of short breaks to hang the washing out or eat a sandwich. I wrestle myself away at 4 or 5ish, depending upon what`s happening with the children after school. I tend to set myself a word count for each week, which could be 5,000 words if I have a lot of other commitments on, or 10,000 if I have the rare luxury of a clear week. But the truth is, I`m writing in my head when I`m driving, cooking, cleaning, playing the piano...
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Write what`s in your heart, and on your mind, what you care for and dream about. Those things that make you want to throw plates or bash your head against the desk or run up a mountain, fling your arms wide and sing hallelujah. Don`t ever write what you think someone else wants to read – or even worse, wants to publish. Your story is unique, and precious, however you choose to express it. And make plenty of time to daydream.
Have you got anything exciting planned for publication day?
I`m recording a radio interview in the morning, then meeting my daughter to shop for prom shoes. In the evening I`m volunteering at the youth club my husband runs. I expect this to involve breaking up a fight, repeatedly tossing the same group of girls out of the toilets and listening to the kind of problems that make my oh-so-troubled teenage years seem like a seven year holiday. It`s exhausting, and heart-breaking and loads of fun. I usually come home and drink a glass of wine. This week I may have a piece of cheesecake to go with it. The Thursday after that the company I sometimes write for are throwing me a launch party at a local restaurant. I didn`t quite dare organise one for myself so going along as the guest of honour will be lovely.
Are you going to treat yourself to something nice for publishing your first book?
Last summer my tiny, cranky old fridge broke. For years I had been hankering after an American style fridge to complement my cooking passion and hold enough food to satiate my growing teenagers. When I looked online to investigate fridge freezers and found out I had been offered a publishing deal, I went straight out and bought my dream fridge. So, I feel as if I`ve had my “first book” present. I would love a new kitchen to go with it, but I might have to wait until the next book for that...
If you could go on a writing retreat anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
I have always wanted to go to North America. I`m fascinated by the fact that you can trace the roots of towns right back to who founded them, and when. I like to think I would have made it as a pioneer, risking everything to start from scratch in the wilderness. And I love the idea of all that empty space. So I think it would be a log cabin on a lake in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. But really, as long as there`s trees I`m happy.
About the Author
Beth Moran grew up in the Nottinghamshire countryside. After studying Biochemistry at university, she initially worked in cancer research, and then spent ten years teaching antenatal classes, before giving it up to follow her dream of becoming a writer. She is a passionate communicator, regularly featuring on BBC Radio Nottingham, speaking at conferences and having great fun during story time at her local toddler group. She is part of the national leadership team of the women`s network Free Range Chicks, which gives her ample opportunity to organise events that include two of her favourite things – food and dancing. Having spent time living in Leeds, Chester and Liverpool, in 2005 she returned to the outskirts of Sherwood Forest country where she currently lives with her husband and three children.