I've set up this blog so that all my friends, relations and colleagues in the world of writing can keep up to speed with what I'm doing - from now on, I'll never have to say sorry for not keeping in touch.

Or anyway, that's the plan.

So do please link up with me on Facebook and Twitter - https://www.facebook.com/margaret.james.5268 and https://twitter.com/majanovelist

You can find my novels as digital downloads on Apple iTunes, Kobo, Kindle and Nook, and most are available as print paperbacks, too.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Christine Stovell follows a star...

The guest on my blog today is contemporary novelist Christine Stovell.

Christine lives in rural West Wales and leads an interesting life, combining home-making, family, writing novels and poetry and short stories and running with – ease? Let’s find out!

Thank you for popping round, Christine. I’ll just put the kettle on and fetch the biscuits.

Ah, lovely - essential nutrients!  Thank you so much, Margaret, for inviting me to your blog and making me so welcome.

Then we can get down to business.


Your latest novel is called Follow a Star, and I wondered if this might be a good description of your own life? Do you personally follow a very special star?

I would steer a little wooden boat across deep seas by starlight for my husband, Tom, and my two daughters… oh, wait a minute, I have!  Seriously, they are my guiding stars who mean everything to me.

You write novels, poetry and short fiction. Do you have a favourite kind of writing? How do you respond to the challenges of each writing style?

My work, in whatever form, is simply my attempt to make sense of the world. The challenge is to set those thoughts and feelings down in words that will chime with readers. My novels always begin with a strong image in my mind’s eye, like a ‘still’ from a film. With Turning the Tide it was seeing Harry, a troubled young woman, sitting alone by the side of creek. Move Over Darling, started with the heroine Coralie looking out of her workshop at the snow and Follow A Star began with May, her rucksack slung over her shoulder, hoofing it down a lonely road.

What made you decide to return to Little Spitmarsh, the setting of Turning the Tide, to write Follow a Star

I love faded seaside towns anyway, but Little Spitmarsh and its inhabitants are very real to me. I miss the place and the people when I leave it behind and can see myself returning for a third visit.

What about the running – does that help you with your writing, or is running an escape from writing? 

They complement each other, but what I’ve learned from both is that half-marathons and novels are just a series of small steps.

What's your favourite part of the novel-writing process - planning, writing the first draft, editing?

I’ve learned that there’s always a point when I become very frustrated that the words I’ve written don’t match the ‘perfect’ vision in my head, so the trick is to press on through that difficult first draft. By then, I’m so deep in the world of the novel that it isn’t always easy to look at it objectively - which is when I’m grateful to my editor and the chance to make it the book it should be. I suppose the bit I like best is having written – the satisfaction of completing a long piece of work!

What are you writing now?

Enough to keep me busy for a very long time! I’m writing my fourth romantic novel,  I’m working (very slowly) on building a poetry collection, I’ve got the opening chapters of a much darker novel about friendship and betrayal, and I’d also like to complete a non-fiction project I’ve started.

When anyone new to writing fiction asks you for advice, what do you say? 

Write only if you’re completely and utterly in love with what you’re doing - that way you’ll stick with it.  Besides, if you don’t love your work, why should the reader?

How do you manage to juggle all the things you do – any tips?

As above really; if you love what you do, you’ll find time for it … which is why my garden currently resembles a small jungle!

Five quick questions:

Favourite time of day?

Whenever I catch sight of the sea beyond my window.

Most precious possession?

My health.

Biggest regret?

I wish I’d taken my writing seriously sooner and that I’d started running earlier as both have brought me so much satisfaction and joy, but, hey, maybe everything happened at the right time for me.

Future writing ambitions?

To see one of my novels adapted for film or TV … ohpleaseohplease!

Happiest moment?

Still to come, I hope! You get one chance, one life. Yesterday's gone, forget about it. You have this precious new day, so live it.


  1. I always enjoy reading about how other writers write and what pushes their buttons. This was wonderful, thanks for sharing this. Good luck with future projects :)

  2. What a very kind comment, Jane - thank you!

  3. Lovely blog Christine and Margaret! A fan of both you're works so looking forward to Follow a Star - when time allows of course!!! Wishing you every success x

  4. That's the thing, Karen, there are so many tempting books to read and not enough time. Thanks so much for your lovely comment, Karen. x

  5. Thank you, Jane and Karen, for your lovely comments!

  6. Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Margaret. x