Hello Madeleine. Can you please introduce yourself?
I'm Madeleine Calcutt living at the foot of Mt Baw Baw in Neerim South, West Gippsland, Victoria, Australia.
That sounds like a lovely place. How long have you been writing?
Ever since I was a child. However, I have been writing to get my novels published for about ten years.
What first got you interested in writing?
I think the interest was there all the time due to a highly active imagination. It’s always been part of me. I decided to get my novels published so I could use the talent God has given me to serve Him and send out Christian messages in my work. It is a calling, a ministry.
Do you attend a writing group?
I go to the Baw Baw Writers’ group but cannot attend their meetings very often as they are at night and quite a long way away. I began two years ago.
Why do you attend a writing group?
To get advice on finding a suitable publisher and on promoting books.
What is the most valuable thing you've taken away from your writing group?
I think that the support you can get from the other members in a writers’ group is the most valuable thing to come away with. Handy hints are really helpful, but support is more important.
What genre(s) do you write?
All sorts of genres:- contemporary adult; children’s picture books; children’s stories; young adults’ historical fiction. I don’t feel restricted at all. I love writing for children because I love children. I love historical fiction because I am passionate about history.
Are there any genres that you don't enjoy writing?
Fantasy – it’s just not ‘me’. I like addressing people’s problems in a realistic way to help them. I use my experiences to do this.Poetry – Can’t write poems.Sci Fi – I think it’s yuk!Paranormal stuff – I don’t believe in it.
Have you ever had anything published?
Yes. An historical novel for older children published in
U.S., called ‘All Aboard!: Jenny’s Story of the Mayflower Voyage’
Also, an adult contemporary novel published in
U.S.called ‘Step of Faith’.
I have just completed a young adult historical novel in the same series as the first novel, called ‘Transportation!: Linney’s Convict Years’. I have begun another in the series about World War 2, and have planned more.
Also I have written, and had published, interviews with artists and writers for a travel magazine.
Have you sent your writing to agents/publishers? Have you received any rejections?
Yes to both, unfortunately.
I think rejections are a rite of passage for every author. Would you consider self-publishing/e-publishing?
Books fascinate me. I don’t consider material on a screen to be books, so I am not interested at all. I wouldn’t want to read them nor have my novels published as Kindle or e-books. I wouldn’t want to self publish because I wouldn’t be capable of it technologically and also there is a stigma against it as well as vanity press. My two novels were published through vanity press and some publishers won’t accept an author’s manuscript if they have self published before or used vanity press. I was very happy with the service I got with vanity press except for the fact that I had to promote my own novels which I hated and at which I was most unsuccessful.
Do you have a writing routine?
I write when I feel like it. Evenings I like to write because I have more time then and it is quiet and I can allow myself to be transported into another world without distractions. Plus I am like a bear with a sore head in the mornings. I don’t ‘do mornings’! I just write when I am able to.
I don't do mornings either! Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
Somewhere between the two. I am not highly organised with it because this would play havoc with my creativity but I do have to know where I am going roughly with it before I start. Also, I allow the characters, and new situations that I think up along the way, to direct my plot to a certain extent.
Do you have an editing process? Do you have someone else read over your work? Do you read your work aloud to yourself in front of the mirror?
I edit as I go, chapter by chapter. I prefer to print off a chapter and then sit in bed and read it and do chicken scratchings in red on it and then go to my computer and correct it, chapter by chapter. I was fortunate in having an excellent editor for my current novel. It made such a difference. I don’t read my work out aloud. I think that is a good idea. I don’t know about in front of the mirror, though! I think it is a good idea to read dialogue out loud to see if it sounds natural as the spoken word.
Who/what influences your writing? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I would have to say God. He gave me the talent, and His Word in the Bible inspires me. It is a road map to life.
How do you come up with your characters' names and personalities?
Character’s personalities are based on friends, family, and people I have observed in my life or in novels or films. I get my characters’ names from observation, reading names in novels and searching them out on the internet according to what century I am writing in. Can’t call a 16th Century woman Kylie!!!
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
I enjoy everything about writing. It is the other stuff I don’t like – finding a publisher and promoting the novel. Hate that! What I love most about the actual writing is bringing my characters to life. It’s magical. Getting inside their heads and getting to know them. I also love research but sometimes it is a bit too much like hard work.
What is the best piece of writing advice you've ever been given?
“Write from the heart!”
What advice could you give to a new writer?
Believe in yourself. Don’t let anyone else’s negative comments deter you in your ambition. Don’t let them destroy your confidence, your vision and purpose and the belief in what you are doing.
How important is it for you to share your writing?
It is important for me to get my novels published and out there for people to read. There is no point writing if no one reads it. I like to reach as many people as I can. I like to inspire Christians, to give them strength, and to bring knowledge and the good news about salvation to non-Christians through an engaging story.
Have you ever entered any writing competitions?
Yes. A couple of times, but I didn’t get a place. I’m too busy to bother with them, actually.
Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
Reading, walking with the dog in nice sunny weather by a river in a forest, being with my grandchildren, going to church and bible study. I love swimming in the ocean but I live a long way away from the beach now unfortunately.
That's a shame. I like taking my dog for walks along the beach, but I wouldn't swim in the sea here!! What types of things do you read? Do you think your writing reflects your book tastes?
Yes definitely. I write the sort of books that I love to read – historical and/or family books. I love family sagas set in the olden days. I love reading books that focus on family members and their relationships with each other. My preference is for Christian Fiction.
Do you have any favourite lines from novels/plays/poetry/songs, or any favourite literary quotations?
‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1 New King James Version) Describes faith beautifully.
‘Let the sea roar and all its fullness;let the field rejoice, and all that is in it.Then the trees of the woodsShall rejoice before the Lord. . .’ (1Chronicles -33) This is so majestic and powerful.
‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus . .’ (Romans 8:1) This is so reassuring.
If you could have written anything, what do you wish that could have been?
Exactly what I am doing – writing historical novels either for young adults, older children or adults.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am trying to find a publisher for my second novel in my young adult historical series. The novel is about early
Australia. I am also trying to find a publisher for a collection of short stories called ‘Let the Sea Roar’ written by other Christian authors and me. I am also trying to promote my adult novel, ‘Step of Faith’. Somewhere in between all this I am writing my third historical novel in the young adult series and this one is about World War 2.
Do you have a website/blog/Twitter/Facebook dedicated to your writing?
Would you be able to provide a short piece of your writing?
, 1787 LondonThe Old Bailey and Newgate Prison Digging her jagged nails into her palms, Linney held her breath as the bailiff crossed the courtroom floor. He whispered in the judge’s ear and handed him a piece of paper. The judge opened it. Every sound was amplified. The dry crackle of paper exploded in Linney’s head and bile crawled up her throat. The judge’s gavel slammed onto the desk and she jerked. “Linnet Jane West! Stand.” Linney rose slowly. Her legs trembled uncontrollably. The chains rattled as she clutched the rail in an effort to remain upright. Her heart was beating fast and her mouth was so dry she couldn’t swallow. “You are judged guilty of the heinous crime of theft, for which the punishment is transportation to . . .” The courtroom spun and Linney sank to the floor. A sharp slap on her cheek brought her back to consciousness. She stared up at a female warden’s bovine face. “Wh―what did the judge say, Miss?”Cold, indifferent eyes swept over her. “You’re ta be transported ta for seven years.” Linney gasped and squeezed her eyes shut. “Seven years?” Once more the room swung violently.“ ’Ere, drink this.”Water filled her mouth and she swallowed convulsively, then coughed and sat up. The warden grabbed the chains and jerked Linney to her feet. She whimpered as the shackles scraped her chaffed wrists. “Please –”“Shut ya mouth, girl.”Dragged from the courtroom, she stumbled helplessly in the warden’s wake. Australia
Linney saw Ma Mabel out of the corner of her eye, and she swung her head, glaring.Betrayed! Bitterness and anger welled up in her. Ma Mabel shrugged. “Not my fault, love! Ya knew ya would ’a got caught sooner or later.” Linney knew no such thing.
* * *
© Madeleine CalcuttThank you very much, Madeleine.