Author Interview – Maggie Ballinger – James The Third

Tell me a bit about who you are.

I’m a 71-year-old Mum  born in Crewe with two daughters and four grandchildren, now living in Sheffield.

When did you first WANT to write a book?

In 1980.

When did you take a step to start writing?

When I purchased a typewriter in 1980.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

My first novel wasn’t released but was stored in shed and eaten by mice. In 1990, I began writing a novel which remains a ‘work in progress’ more than 30 years later.

How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?

Five months.

Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write James The Third?

My husband asked the difference between an heir presumptive and an heir apparent. I explained that The Queen was never heir apparent because if her parents had a son, he would have leap-frogged her in the line of succession. This led me to ask ‘what if?’

What were your biggest challenges with writing James The Third?

Being quick enough to get it out in Jubilee Year. During lockdown, I spent 10 hours a day, every day, writing and researching.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?

Prince/King James is unconventional and a bit of a rebel, but so he could mingle amongst his subjects unrecognised, his physical appearance had to be fairly nondescript. He has the intelligence and resourcefulness to carry off his numerous personae.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?

While there’s no baddie, one character is pursuing a scoop story that could eventually bring down the monarchy. James is also constantly frustrated by the constraints of a constitutional monarchy.

What is the main conflict of James The Third?

Probably reflecting how The Queen sometimes felt, personal desire versus expectations.

Did you plot James The Third in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?

I knew how it started and also how it had to end, and drafted both before doing the middle, which wasn’t straightforward. To get from A to B it was then necessary to reposition certain scenes and adjust some of the content.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did James The Third need?

My husband contributed ideas, played devil’s advocate and read, then reread, the evolving manuscript. He was especially good at spotting repeated words and any inconsistencies.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?

Tell your story and don’t be put off by self-doubt.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

Janet and John is currently being written.

And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Yes to both.

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