Margaret Blake’s Interview with Margaret Tanner
Hi Margaret, great of you to stop by. Please can you tell us about your two recent novels “Devil’s Ridge” and “Stolen Birthright” both of which have been very well received?
M.T: Thank you for having me, I am honoured to be here.
Devils Ridge is set during the 1st World War and tells the story of Harry (Harriet) Martin who masquerades as a boy so she can help her shell-shocked brother obtain employment. They are hired by Ross Calvert to work on his cattle station, Devil’s Ridge. Of course, falling in love with Ross was never part of the plan.
Stolen Birthright, is the sequel to Savage Utopia and is set in Australia in the 1840’s. Marcus Lindquist is the son of an English Lord, banished to Australia for an indiscretion. He meets up with George (Georgina), a tomboy who lives with an elderly uncle and three boy cousins. They fall in love, but how can the daughter of convicts marry into the English aristocracy? And twelve thousand miles across the sea, an English Earl, who was prepared to send an innocent man (Georgina’s father) to the gallows, plots Georgina’s death, so that his shameful secret will never see the light of day.
These sound terrific reads, Margaret. Exciting plots, I am not surprised they did so well. Tell me now, when did you start writing and why?
M.T: I have virtually been writing stories since I could put pen to paper. As a child I used to make up stories and write them down in old exercise books. I was having a clean out of my cupboards a few months ago and found one of the exercise books which was really surprising, I thought it would have been thrown out years ago. I am going to keep it now and pass it on to my little granddaughter.
You are an Australian, does the wonderful country of Australia inspire your writing?
M.T: Yes it certainly does. We have beautiful scenery, unique wild life. My pioneering ancestors, fought against the tyranny of distance in an inhospitable and savage land, where only the tough and resilient would survive. They not only survived but prospered in ways that would not have been possible for them had they stayed in England and Scotland.
Yes, Margaret that is so true. There is a splendid classlessness in Australia which still doesn’t exist in England. Only in Australia could a convict’s daughter keep company with an earl! I know you recently had a trip to Europe, did you find anything that you will use in a future novel?
MT: Oh Yes. Plenty of ideas are swimming around in my head waiting to be told. We visited Cornwall, and I would love to set a story there against those beautiful rugged cliffs and wild seas. We spent a week in Penzance, but I didn’t see any handsome pirates in the flesh, but in my mind I did. And of course, Scotland, those castles and men in kilts, I only had to close my eyes and I could hear the swirl of the pipes floating across the moors. All I have to do is find the time to write the stories.
Both are inspiring places. What sparked your interest in both the World Wars?
M.T: As a child I used to listen to my elderly relatives talk about the 1st World War. It was hard to visualize these frail old men as dashing young soldiers. As I grew older my interest grew. I read the history books, had access to diaries and on one of our trips to England, I visited the World War 1 battlefields in France and Belgium, a truly poignant experience. From then on, I knew I had to write about these brave young men who sailed thousands of miles across the sea to fight for mother England, the birth country of their parents and grandparents. I also wanted to write about the mothers and sweethearts who often waited in vain for their loved ones to return.
From a population of about 4 million, Australia sent over 300,000 men to the front, more than 60,000 were killed, more than double that number wounded.
The 1st World War decimated the male population of some country towns, and they never recovered from it.
I have written three books set during World War 1. Devil’s Ridge from WCP press, Shattered Dreams from TWRP, and I have a 3rd novel, Wild Oats, coming out next year from TWRP.
As for the 2nd World War.
My interest is fired by the fact that my father served during the 2nd World War in Singapore and Malaya, and had a miraculous escape from Singapore just a couple of days before the capitulation to the Japanese. My novel, The Trouble With Playboys, published by TWRP, is set against that background, and I had access to letters by father wrote during the war to my mother (who was engaged to him at the time), plus the stories Dad told us as kids, and I felt compelled to write about it.
That sounds so fascinating, Margaret. I think you Aussie’s have great respect for those who fought in those wars. The war memorials are beautiful and held in great reverence. I was very impressed by how these ANZAC memorials are cared for. Please tell us what you have planned for the future.
M.T: I have three longer historical novels, around 100,000 words that I would like to try and have published with one of the larger publishers, and I am working towards that goal by doing revisions and re-writes.
In the last couple of months I have signed two contracts with The Wild Rose Press (TWRP). So, I aim to keep busy.
My website is: http://www.margarettanner.com
My publishers are: Whiskey Creek Press and The Wild Rose Press
Thank you, Margaret, this has been such fun and you have made it so very interesting. Good luck in the future.