It’s common for writers to turn off their beautiful wording for interviews, taking on a more… relaxed approach. Margaret Locke is not one of those authors, as she writes beautifully regardless of whether it’s just an interview or not. Just reading her answers to our questions made us want to pick up her books.
This award-winning romance author had tons to say and some valuable information to give, making this particular interview one of the best we’ve ever conducted.
You’re an award-winning romance author. That’s awesome! How does one become an award-winning romance author?
While we all love the idea of those on high discovering our work and slathering it with awards without us doing a thing, I don’t think that’s how it happens for 99.9% of authors. I chose to enter my books in Romance Writers of America chapter contests and a few other independent contests in hopes of recognition, of course, but also because many of these contests provide valuable feedback. A note of caution: do check out the legitimacy of whatever contest you might consider, as sadly there are those just interested in taking your money – high entry fees are usually (but not always) a warning sign.
You began reading romance at the age of ten because you’d already read all the children’s books available to you. What did you like the most about romance novels back then?
Is it okay to say the naughty parts? Bwah ha ha!
Actually, no – the sex scenes were eye-opening at first, indeed, but what really hooked me was the mixing of romance and history. I’ve been an avid historical romance reader from the start, and have long admired authors’ abilities to bring another era to life, whether in describing clothing and food or interweaving real-life historical figures and events into the plot.
Has anything changed? Do you like something else about romance novels now?
I think I’ve come to appreciate more the clever, witty repartee between hero and heroine that peppers my favorite novels. I love a quick rejoinder, a delightful word twist, verbal sauciness and suggestiveness, all played out in language. Give me that and that irresistible will-they-won’t-they emotional and sexual tension, and I’ll be reading all night.
You went to college, then grad school, and didn’t start writing your novels until your 40’s. Why do you think you finally did it then?
- The practical: Life got busy. I got married and had two kids. I simply didn’t have time or energy to consider anything else (which is why I tip my hat to anyone who holds down a full-time job in additional to parenting. I don’t know how you do it!).
- The psychological: I didn’t know if I had what it took. While I loved my English classes and people had long told me I wrote well, I’d never pursued creative writing instruction in any official capacity. In fact, I hadn’t crafted works of fiction longer than a few pages before I wrote my first novel. For a long time, I put off the dream by convincing myself being a romance author wasn’t a “real” occupation. Eventually I admitted that was just a cover for being terrified of so badly wanting to emulate all those amazing authors I’ve read, wanting to bring that same level of excitement and joy and pleasure to readers – and failing at it. It still terrifies me, actually.
What does writing mean to you?
Freedom and joy and agony and frustration and immersion and disbelief and fantasy and fear, all in one. It means control. It means getting to make those characters do exactly what you want them to, to develop the plot exactly as you’d like – until you realize it’s them directing you and not the other way around. It’s the exhilaration of the first draft, when the story flows and all seems heavenly, and it’s the despair of editing, when you’re 100% sure the book sucks and the characters suck and you suck and why did you ever think you could do this in the first place?
It’s a privilege – I’m finally doing what I love, and somehow that doesn’t seem fair sometimes, that I get to do this. That independent publishing is a viable option so that not only do I get to do this, but I get to do it exactly how I want to. I’m blessed to have a super-supportive husband who doesn’t give a fig if I make money or not; he just wants me to be happy doing something I love. That’s privilege, and I know it.
I get to take a piece of my soul and bare it to the world. That’s both thrilling and scary. But at the same time, as a shirt I own says, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” That’s what writing is to me – figuring out what makes me, what makes others, tick, what makes us connect or struggle to do so, and shaping it into a story that might just resonate with somebody else.
What does love mean to you? It’s the subject of your books. Why love?
Well, as a child of divorce, I’ll admit there was something incredibly appealing and reassuring in the idea that no matter what happened in a romance novel – and some really crazy things often happen! – the hero and heroine would end up together. Love would conquer all, and love would last. It was a very soothing notion to a very anxiety-prone little girl, and it’s what keeps me coming back, those Happy Ever Afters so many of us delight in (especially in such an uncertain world).
As I’ve aged, however, I’ve grown to appreciate even more the equality of that love. When a romance is done well, both hero and heroine change, both make sacrifices. Not just one. The heroine can “have it all” – sexual satisfaction, emotional satisfaction, a partner who sees her as equal and who values love. That’s what I wanted in my own life, it’s what I found, and it’s what I wish for anyone else who wants it!
For all of us, at our core, want to be loved, don’t you think? For some, romantic love will be their focus. For others, familial love, the love of friendship, or even the affectionate bond with a pet ranks higher. But I firmly believe love matters and ought to be valued more. All the success, all the money, all the glory in the world won’t bring you love. And for most of us, without love, we’ll always feel a little bit empty.
Is there any advice you’d like to share with aspiring writers? Perhaps people who want to write novels, but think it’s a fruitless effort?
On the personal level, write just because you want to. Because you have something to say. Because you enjoy it. Don’t worry about marketability or sales or success or even craft – just start writing. What have you got to lose? You’ll never know what you can do until you do it.
Writing a novel is not easy, but if you put words to page, one after another, until you’ve written The End, you’ll be worlds ahead of all of those who say they want to write a novel but never get around to doing it. And definitely lock that Inner Editor away! He/she is really just Fear in disguise, trying to keep you from doing anything because it might not be perfect. Here’s the good news: no draft, whether first or final, is ever perfect!
On the professional level, if you think you really want to get published some day, DO get involved in writing communities. Find something local, join an online group, join a professional organization for your genre. Get connected to other writers. When I first met one of my idols, Sabrina Jeffries, in 2013, she told me, “Don’t write in a vacuum.” The longer I do this, the more I appreciate that advice – because other writers and writing organizations can provide you with so much: support, education, inspiration, accountability, honing your craft, providing critique, referrals, etc. I don’t know where I would be without my writing friends, both the ones I’ve made in real life and the ones I’ve connected with online. But they’re worth their weight in gold, that’s for sure.
Oh, and make sure you have a great editor and great cover designer if/when you ever DO publish. They are absolutely essential.
Are you working on anything right now?
I’m currently revising my fourth novel, The Demon Duke. Well, uh, I’m supposed to be. 2016 turned out to be a challenging year on a personal level, so I pushed back my deadline with my editor from October 2016 to January 2017. Oops. I plan to release it in late spring 2017, however. It’s actually the first pure Regency I’ve written, no magical elements included (beyond the delightful Beauty and the Beast-esque romance, of course!), so it’s launching a new series for me. I hope readers will love this tale of a duke with a secret and the bookish young miss who just might be the one to save him from himself.
Where can readers purchase your books?
You can find all three of my titles (A Man of Character, A Matter of Time, and A Scandalous Matter) on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback format (and they’re also available in Kindle Unlimited). For those wanting the entire series in one convenient e-book file, they can buy The Magic of Love series from Amazon, as well.
And if anybody wants an autographed copy, I’m happy to provide! You can email me at [email protected] and we’ll work out the details!
Any links you’d like to share with readers (social media, Goodreads, etc.)?
I love to connect with fellow readers and writers. You may find me here:
Margaret Locke is more than an award-winning author—she’s a talented writer with amazing writing technique and a perspective on the world that we all wish we had. It was an absolute pleasure to interview her, so we’d like to take a moment to thank her. She’s taken valuable time away from editing her book, which she’s already behind on.
And remember, if you’d like to follow Locke, and get an autographed copy, don’t be afraid to reach out to her!