TweetMargot Kinberg is the author of the Joel Williams mystery novels and a university educator. She blogs daily at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist.
Time to chat with Margot!
I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?
I do indeed. In a Word: Murder, a charity anthology I had the honor of editing, has just been released. It’s a great collection of short stories, all having to do with crime in the world of writing, editing, publishing, reviewing and blogging.
The proceeds from the book will go in aid of Princess Alice Hospice in memory of Maxine Clarke. Maxine was a true friend to the world of crime fiction. Her loss last year was a blow to us all and this project is a way to remember her.
What else have you written?
I’m also the author of the Joel Williams mystery novels. So far, Publish or Perish and B-Very Flat have been published. I’ve got the third in the series under review by a publisher now, and the fourth in my computer being revised.
What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?
I most enjoy figuring out how the plot will move along and how the characters will interact. That’s where the creative part of writing comes in. Even when I have to go back and revise to make it a better story, figuring out the plot and character elements lets me use my imagination and my sense of logic at the same time.
The least enjoyable part about writing is the physical exhaustion. Writers only have a finite amount of energy for creating and writing. I wish I had bigger “battery” sometimes.
Do you have any advice for first-time authors?
One piece of advice I have is to keep writing. Writing is a passion, but it is also a craft. You hone your skills and get better as you do it more. So write every day, even if it’s only a sentence or two.
I’d also say it’s important to read. And then read some more. And then keep reading. Find out what other authors are doing and learn from it. You can’t find that out if you don’t read.
Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?
I’ve actually had some great experiences with social media. I’ve met some wonderful people (like yourself), made good friends and learned a lot. And that’s the best part of social media for me. I also like the way it expands horizons. For instance, I’m in an online book club that wouldn’t be possible without social media.
To be pragmatic, social media is also a very effective way to market oneself. It’s free or inexpensive, doesn’t have to be hard to use, and it reaches lots of people.
But social media is best seen (I think) as a good servant but a bad master. It’s time-consuming and distracting unless you have a lot of self-discipline.
Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?
I like to finish drafts of my work before I let others read it. I’d rather go through a draft myself and try to make it organized and clear and (at least sort of) proofread before I ask anyone to put in the time to read and comment.
Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?
I’ve written since I was a child. It started innocently enough with school essays and stories. My first one was when I was about eleven years old Then it moved on to more serious things like some short stories and some (forgettable!!!) poems. After that, there was no hope for me. I honestly couldn’t imagine myself not writing. I know it sounds cliché but writing is part of me.
Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?
I’m definitely an early bird writer. I love the peace and quiet of the early morning and that’s when I can focus best. And coffee is an absolute requirement (black, no sugar). Not that a glass of wine in the evening goes amiss… 😉
Have you ever started out to write one book and ended up with something completely different?
That actually happened to me with my fourth Joel Williams novel. I’d written the first several chapters and then had a terrible hard drive failure. My novel couldn’t be saved, so I had to start over. And I ended up with a different (and I’d like to think better) novel. It wasn’t fun, but the end result was a good one I think.
If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?
I wish I were better at painting and drawing. I can use photo editing and graphics software well enough for my own needs, but I would love to be able to express things in hand-made paintings and drawings. I have an immense amount of respect for artists.
What was the most valuable class you ever took in school? Why?
Honestly, I’ve had several valuable classes. I was lucky not to have very many “waste-of-my-time” courses. One that I remember really being helpful was a computer programming class I had at university. Now that was a long time ago, so of course everything has changed technologically. But I learned really important things about how computers work and what they actually do. And that has made things a lot easier for me now that computers are such a big part of my daily life. It’s like understanding how different ingredients work before you follow a recipe.
What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?
Hmmmm…. I’m afraid I’ll probably sound preachy here, but I’ll try not to. One thing I think would help a lot is if we tried to see everyone (other drivers, cashiers, waitstaff and clients, you get the idea) as humans – as real people just like us. Keeping that in mind would probably mean we’d treat each other more kindly and with more respect. There’s too much rudeness, hatred and tearing others down in the world.
Along with that, I think we can all make the world better by remembering who’s going to have stewardship of it when we’re gone. Children learn the “rules of life” from the adults they interact with, and they watch us closely. I think we can make a big difference by raising our children and grandchildren with love, by teaching them both overtly and by example how to treat others, and by respecting and supporting them so that they can make the most of their talents. And you don’t have to be a (grand)parent to do that.
I also think the world would be a better place if we were a little more respectful of it. And we can do that without taking a lot of time or spending a lot of money. Just small things like recycling, using trash bins instead of the sidewalk, taking public transportation and donating clothes and furniture instead of throwing them away can make a big difference.
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