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Inspirational Indie Author Interview #75: Author Interview with Margaret Skea: Ulster Childhood Prepared Her to Write About Ancient Conflict

by Alliance of Independent Authors
November 22nd 2020

My ALLi author guest this week is Margaret Skea, who lives in Scotland and writes historical fiction about violent periods in Scottish history. It is a subject that ... More

I'm Howard lovey, and you're listening to inspirational indie authors every week. I feature a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors to find out what inspires them and how they are an inspiration to other authors. Yeah, my guest this week is Margaret, Ski and author, who lives in Scotland and writes historical fiction about violent periods in Scottish history. It is a subject that hits closer to home from Margaret than you'd think. She spent her childhood in Northern Ireland, where sectarian violence was a daily fact of life, and Margaret is able to convey this sense of danger and uncertainty in her fiction. Hi, I'm Margaret Ski Andi. I live in Scotland now, but I grew up in Northern Ireland. Andi, currently I'm primarily writing on That's historical fiction written in riel history on DSO. A lot of the time I'm living in the 16th century. Just

why she's living in the 16th century will become clear in a few minutes. To begin with, there's her childhood in Northern Ireland during the troubles. I waas a teenager when the trouble started. Well, just before I became a teenager on DSO most of my upper school years, the troubles were ongoing Onboard we had a very different normality, probably from anybody in the Western world, in that we went out every day expecting to come home. But always took the back of your mind was the thought that maybe today you wouldn't come home on At the time, we just tried to live as normally as possible. But it was always there in the back of your mind on at the time, it was just for us as an adult looking back, I think it must have been actually a lot harder for parents to see their Children go out and also to know that they might not come back. You knew the places to

avoid in the man. But you couldn't always avoid it because so much of it waas arbitrary on. Do you got to the point where you you would hear a bomb going off and you would be able to compute by the sound of it? How far away it waas? How big it waas whether it was likely to have caused casualties or fatalities on that was just something you did instantly. Personally, I had friends who had their hub blown up. Yes, it did impact on everyone, Really, It absolutely had me in effect, on me as a writer. Because you know, when you're supposed to write your first book, you're supposed to write about what you know, Andi, what I emotionally new was what it was like to grow up and live in a conflict situation on Do So. When I started looking for a topic for a novel, I had been doing PhD research quite a while before that on

that involved the 16th century. It involved the Austro Plantation it involved two families on. I find a little fit note in one of these books that has about an inch of text on about 10 inches of footnotes on every page. There was a little footnote about a massacre in 15 86 in Scotland, and that just lodged in my mind. And I thought, I know what it would be like to live in that situation where you were involved in clan warfare, and it was a constant in the back of your mind as a way of life. Margaret studied linguistics in college and hope to make a career studying dialects, but marriage intervened and she moved to Scotland, where there was some slight culture shock. While Northern Island might have had its problems, it was not quite as class conscious as Scotland. In Ulster, I was used to, ah, relatively classless society. When I moved to Scotland, we were living in a rural area and

I discovered it was really stratified. And I find that quite hard to get used. Thio. But if I was very friendly with my next door neighbors who were manual workers, then people didn't expect me to also be friends with farm owners or state owners. I really struggled with that because I wasn't used to there being kind of class A class system still alive and well. Now, before we move on to Margaret's books, there's one other thing you should know about her. She's an adrenaline junkie, and that includes flying World War two era planes like the Tiger Moth. Yes, I absolutely, I'm an adrenaline junkie on, but I guess the most exciting thing in my life. Waas when I was given a flying lesson in a tiger moth, Andi, I could have stayed flying that plane forever. Actually, it was it was wonderful. It was really easy to fly was very responsive. Andi, the person who took me up

. We went way away from the little airfield, little Grass Airfield, where it was based. And when we were quite far away, he asked me if I'd like to do some aerobatics, which he wasn't normally allowed to do. But we could do it because we were where we couldn't be seen it. So I was absolutely over the moon. So we looked. The loop on day did all kinds of aromatics for which he took the controls at that stage, obviously, but it was still a fabulous experience. The interesting thing was, that was the 50th birthday present, Onda. At the same time, my husband's 50th birthday present was a breadmaker. So that kind of gives you an idea off the relative characters. Now back to Margarets writing career and to discover why she decided to write about ancient Scottish history, we have to go back to her childhood in Northern Ireland. The conflict in Ulster was too close and too personal. I couldn't write about that. I

still couldn't write about that, I don't think, but writing the story of the feud in the 16th century was, in a way writing the same story, but 400 years removed. So I was able to cope with that and actually enjoy doing it. And in a way, I guess there was a kind of catharsis and writing about it. The OSHA vendetta was a clan feud that ran for about 150 years, and it was a Siris of tit for tat atrocities on both sides. The only time when it was quiet Waas when there was an external enemy, for example, when Scotland was at war with England. Originally, I started writing with one of the main historical characters as a key character, and then I realized how constricting that wars. But I was 70,000 words in at that stage. But I took the major decision to ditch those 70,000 words and start again dropping a fictional family into the middle

of the feud so that I could examine both sides of the divide. Just examine high what it means or what it felt like to be caught between two warring factions. So I have a key character called Monroe, and he has a family on. The first book is all about the impact off him, changing allegiances from one side to the other on the four light that it's suffered as a result of that, Andi, then books two and three kind of spread their wings a little bit book to takes into a kind, which trials in Scotland and a little bit of the French wars of religion on Book three, then is split between France and Scotland. And there's a dual timeline using historical events in each country. And eventually it all comes together in the one place. It comes from my experience of living within

conflict. It also comes from the experience of losing two Children that we fostered full time for a considerable period. Andi. It was quite a traumatic loss when they were eventually moved on to, ah, full time fostering placement on. That was at the point when I was writing. Turning of the tide, Andi, I channeled a lot off the emotional angst that that produced Margaret Scottish. Siri's gave her the confidence to move on to self publishing and a different time period, this time, the Reformation in Germany. It was a coming together of various elements of her life and interests. It was. Actually I was in London Book Fair. Andi. I was talking to various agents because I thought there might be some mileage in foreign rights for the Scottish books. Andi, the General Consensus. Waas knew there wasn't because thes were people, but we're not well known. Um, if I've been writing about Mary, Queen of Scots

or William Wallace or someone like that, then yes, there could have been. But writing about relatively unknown characters didn't have that kind off potential to spread Andi. So two of them, in fact, said to me, What was I going to write next on entirely off the top of my head without even really thinking about it? Katarina Luther just popped into my head. Andi, I said, I'm going to be writing about Martin Luther's wife at that stage. Actually, I knew nothing about her except that he had a wife. But I went home from London book Fair on board, started to research her and discovered that the reason I knew very little about her was the wasn't a lot of concrete documentary evidence about her. So it was a significant blend of fact and fiction, but I tried to be Astrue to what we did know as possible and to work on the basis of what is the most likely

reason that someone would act like this. What kind of a person would they have? Bean. And it was It was an absolutely fascinating journey on. I realized by that time that there were so many advantages to doing it myself in terms of control, Andi timing and getting them out exactly at the time you wanted the first one. I wanted to hit the 5/100 anniversary of the Reformation. That wouldn't have been possible. Traditionally, I just didn't have the time for him to do that, even supposing somebody had taken them on. But I was able to do it doing it myself. Along the way, I've been involved with Ally on Do lots of other independently published authors, and I had Bean at London Book Fair three times by that stage and author H que Onda speaking to the guys at Amazon on. But it just seemed I was ready. I was ready, and while I wouldn't say I would never go back to a traditional

contract for a specific project, in fact, I'm in discussion with somebody just now about one for a fiction. I think I will always want to do it myself. One other thing you should know about Margaret are her deeply held religious convictions. For her historical fiction, this gives her a deep understanding of her characters. Religious motivations. Well, that's been interesting in all the books, actually, because one of the things that quite a few historical fiction authors that I've listened to speaking that they've said, has Bean a difficulty for them is to understand the mindset, often earlier era where people started from a standpoint of a belief in God. And I don't have that problem because my personal faith is really important to me. So I'm starting from the same standpoint that they were starting from my personal faith in Christ is absolutely solid, and so I understood where they were coming from, and I think of that makes it easier for me to write in that

mindset so that part of it was really easy for me because I knew where the characters were coming from. Onda also, I knew where characters were coming from from different religious perspectives, because I've also had experience off that which helps. Margaret says she's absolutely bowled over by the positive reception she's received so far for her books. In fact, her books have been racking up awards, including being shortlisted for the 2020 book Brunch Prize and named runner up for the Historical Novel Society Award at the age of 64. She shows no sign of slowing down. She's working on 1/4 book in the Scottish Siri's and is in discussion with a charity about writing a contemporary biography. Her advice for writers who might be having creative troubles during these troubling times. Use this moment to do other things. She's revamping her website and learning about marketing. As for writing, she says, this. Don't be gentle with your own work. You've

been listening to inspirational indie authors. I'm Howard Lovey. If you are a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and would like to be considered for the show, please write to me at Howard at Alliance Independent authors dot org's and tell me what inspires you and how you can inspire other authors. If you enjoy this podcast, please tap on your favorite podcast app and give us a review that will help others discover the family of ally podcasts. As always, find more author advice, tips and tools at her self publishing advice center, Self publishing advice, or G. And if you haven't already, we invite you to join our organization and become a self publishing ally. You could do that at Alliance Independent Authors Dot or GTA. Do

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Inspirational Indie Author Interview #75: Author Interview with Margaret Skea: Ulster Childhood Prepared Her to Write About Ancient Conflict
Inspirational Indie Author Interview #75: Author Interview with Margaret Skea: Ulster Childhood Prepared Her to Write About Ancient Conflict
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