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Meet New York Times Best-Selling Author of the acclaimed Wind River Mystery Series, Margaret Coel
http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/6225/1/Meet-New-York-Times-Best-Selling-Author-of-the-acclaimed-Wind-River-Mystery-Series-Margaret-Coel/Page1.html
Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

To read more about Norm Follow Here






 
By Norm Goldman
Published on July 19, 2013
 


Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com Interviews Best-Selling Author Margaret Coel



                  


Today, Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest New York Times best-selling author of the acclaimed Wind River Mystery Series, Margaret Coel. These novels have received wide recognition and they have been on the bestseller lists of numerous newspapers, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News.

In addition to the Wind River Mystery Series, Margaret is the author of five non-fiction books including the award-winning Chief Left Hand, published by the University of Oklahoma Press. This biography of an Arapaho chief and history of the Arapahos in Colorado has never gone out of print. The Colorado Historical Society has included both Chief Left Hand and Margaret's memoir-history of railroading in Colorado, Goin' Railroading (which she wrote with her father, Samuel F. Speas) among the best 100 books on Colorado history.

Her articles on the West have appeared in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, American Heritage of Invention & Technology, Creativity! and many other publications. Speaking engagements on the people and places she loves best have taken her around the country and as far away as Australia. She visits the Wind River Reservation every year, "just to catch up with my Arapaho friends."

Good day Margaret and thanks for participating in our interview

Norm:

When did you first consider yourself a writer and what keeps you going?

Margaret:

I never not considered myself a writer! I think from my earliest childhood, in listening to the books my father read to me and my brothers, I came to love stories, and I knew even then that I wanted to write them. I was turning out stories as a very young child, and I have never stopped.

Norm:

Are you a plot or character writer?

Margaret:

Character, absolutely. The idea that mystery writers write plot-driven books is a great misunderstanding perpetrated by people who never read mystery novels. Mystery novels demand strong characterizations, even more so than most other types of novels. I happen to write about a priest and a lawyer. Why in heaven’s name would they get involved in solving murders? Of course, they do because of who they are. Their backgrounds, values, beliefs, longings, ambitions all determine their character. They have to be what literature professors call “rounded characters” for the novels to make sense. The characters are the most important part of any novel. After all, we remember Anna Karenina, even if we forget all the details of what happens to her.

That said, plot is still important. It is what drives the story forward.

Norm:

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing and do you have a specific writing style?

Margaret:

I started as a journalist, and my training and experience has influenced me a great deal. I’m always looking for the simplest way to phrase a sentence. I am good at cutting out the debris that clutters a story, because I once had to write very quick newspaper articles that still contained all the important details. I’m used to planting myself in front of my computer and going to work whether I feel like writing or not, just as I once had to show up at the newspaper and go to work, even though I would have rather been out playing tennis or something. And I appreciate editors since I grew up with editors tossing my work back at me and saying, “Fix this.” Yes, editors can be a writer’s best friend.

I also have a literary background. I majored in journalism and French literature in undergraduate school and did graduate work in English literature. My whole life has centered around stories.

Norm:

What helps you focus when you write and do you find it easy reading back your own work?

Margaret:

Some writers like music while they are writing. I like quiet. When I am writing, I have the sense of going into another world, living in that world, and I don’t appreciate anything that calls me back to reality, like phone calls.

I’ve found that the best way to make sure a story works is to read it out loud. All kinds of problems will jump up and punch you in the face.

Norm:

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Margaret:

I have just finished writing the eighteenth novel in my Wind River series, featuring the same two main characters, Father John Aloysius O’Malley and Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden. The challenge is to keep them fresh and interesting. Their backgrounds are the same in each book, but my challenge is to portray the backgrounds in new and different ways. But I love challenges. As long as Father John and Vicky keep surprising me, I think they will continue to surprise my readers.

Norm:

Is your work improvisational or do you have a set plan?

Margaret:

I work from what I call a road map. That is, I loosely, very loosely, map out a novel before I start writing so that I have an idea of where I’m going and how I will end up. I never know the details of my journey until I get into the writing, when all kinds of things can change. But a road map is helpful to keep me focused so that I don’t waste my time writing a lot of stuff that has no place in the story.

Norm:

Are the characters in your book based on people you know or have encountered or are they strictly fictional?

Margaret

Probably a little bit of both, although I am not consciously aware of basing any character on any particular person. Still, people have a way of leaving impressions. I’m sure some of my most vivid impressions of people end up shaping my characters. I also think writers are always digging inside themselves, so that part of me is most likely in each character.

Norm:

Do you feel that writers, regardless of genre owe something to readers, if not, why not, if so, why and what would that be?

Margaret:

I do feel that writers owe readers their best effort, the best story we can fashion, the truest story, the most accurate. We ask readers to pay good money for our work, and we ask them to spend their time with our work. How could we not owe them a lot?

Norm:

What inspired you to write the Wind River mystery series and could you briefly tell our readers something about these novels?.

Margaret:

I had written a non-fiction book—a history of the Arapahos and a biography of one of their great chiefs. The book is titled Chief Left Hand. I first went to the Wind River reservation while researching that book. Later, after other non-fiction books and many articles, I decided to try my hand at fiction. I was inspired by Tony Hillerman’s novels set among the Navajos and thought that, maybe, I could do that with the Arapahos.

My novels are contemporary, set on the reservation. I try to depict the Arapahos as I have come to know them, with all the challenges, hardships, heroism I’ve seen. If there is a theme that runs through the novels, it is the way in which the past continues to influence and shape the present. My main characters, Father John and Vicky, are what the Arapahos call “the edge people.” They live at the edge of two different cultures. They are always trying to explain one to the other.

Norm:

Which do you prefer writing, fiction or non-fiction?

Margaret:

Fiction, hands down. It is so much fun. I did love non-fiction when I was writing a lot of it, but let me tell you, it is hard work!

Norm:

What are you upcoming projects and where can our readers find out more about you and your work?

Margaret:

My new novel, Killing Custer, will be published on September 1. It is about the reenactors, those folks who come together to portray old battles, such the battle of the Little Bighorn. I was fascinated by the way in which the past impinges on the story in this novel, and also by the different ways in which we cross borders and reinvent ourselves.

Here is my WEBSITE   I also keep readers up-to-date at Facebook/margaretcoel.

Norm:

What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?

Margaret

I would say stop asking those kinds of questions and just write. I think the fact that you have the desire to write means that you have some talent. I mean, I never had the inclination to do statistics. So the talent is there. Make use of it.

Norm:

As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.

Margaret:

How many more Wind River novels do you see yourself writing?

As long as I find Father John and Vicky interesting, I will keep writing.

Norm:

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors

Margaret

Thank you!

Follow Here To Check Out Margaret Coel's Books