Interview with author, Susan Elia MacNeal (part 3)

interviews, author quotes(continued)     The conclusion of this fascinating  interview with Susan………..

Susan Elia MacNeal is the author of the Maggie Hope mystery series, including her debut novel, “Mr. Churchill’s Secretary” and newly released “Princess Elizabeth’s Spy”.  She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and child.

Q. Where/when did you first discover your character, Maggie Hope?  

SM. I knew I wanted to write about a young woman who becomes a secretary for Winston Churchill. The name Margaret, or Maggie, was a tribute to my writing mentor Judith Merkle Riley and the heroine of her first book, Margaret in A Vision of Light. Margaret was also a popular name for baby girls in the early 20th century, so it worked for someone in her early twenties in 1940. I discovered her last name, Hope, by looking through a list of famous Britons—and there was Bob Hope. It was perfect.the royal family, writers, authors, interviews

Maggie’s personality is very much inspired by the late Judith Merkle Riley. She was definitely a woman ahead of her time – brilliant and working in economics, a male-dominated field, in the 60s and 70s. She was also a painter, spoke Russian, played the piano and danced the tango. Honestly, I think she worked as a spy at one point, but she would never talk about it! But there’s a lot of Judith in Maggie, especially her humor.

Q. What inspired the mysteries and why Winston Churchill and WWII?  

SM. You know, it was somewhat random—I happened to be in London and a British friend of mine said, “You might want to visit the Cabinet War Rooms—World War II didn’t start with Pearl Harbor, you know.” So, I really just went as a tourist.   It’s an amazing museum, though, in the actual bomb proof bunker where Winston Churchill and his War Cabinet and staff planned the war. I was absolutely mesmerized and there was a moment—a brief moment, outside the typists’ room—where I swore I could hear the typewriters, smell the cigarette smoke, feel the tension. It lasted a mere moment, but it changed my life completely. I knew I had to write about the war rooms.

Q. You’re so young for an interest in WWII (I was a little girl) Is your interest based at all on family stories; perhaps an American grandfather in the war or English branch on the family tree?

SM. Both my paternal father and grandfather served in the war, but, really, it was that trip to the Cabinet War Rooms that was the catalyst. Jacqueline Winspear calls these experiences “moments of grace.” I’m just glad it wasn’t schizophrenia!

Q. Have you? Or do you want to write in another genre`?

SM. Right now I’m completely dedicated to telling the story of Maggie Hope and her friends, wherever it may lead. But recently, writers, authors, best sellers,interviewswhen I was in Scotland doing research, I had this sudden urge to leave New York and move to one of the sparsely inhabited western islands. I asked my husband, “So, if I’m able to sell a memoir about a crazy New York City family who leaves it all for rural Scotland, would you be willing to move for a year?” He seemed game. You never know…

I’ll close by saying, thank you so much for your interest in the Maggie Hope books! 

Start your month off right!! DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS. INTERVIEWS with other best-selling AUTHORS!      

I have had a wonderful response from other authors and plan on featuring an interview once a month . I have invited such luminaries as: Ann Purser, Susan Elia MacNeal, Mark Childress, Rhys Bowen, Dean Koontz, Sheryl Woods, Jo-Ann Mapson, Jeffrey Deaver, Sue Grafton, Elizabeth Gilbert, Walter Mosley, Nora Roberts, and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!  Mark Childress is my April author.  Robert McCammon is scheduled for May. Caroline Leavitt is June‘s author.
July features Rhys Bowen.  Sue Grafton is August’s author and September will feature Tasha Alexander.

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