Many, many thanks, Denise, for inviting me for an interview on your blog, especially now so many of us in the creative writing, blogging world are taking the plunge and self publishing our work. I am DELIGHTED to be here.
Great to have you Madeleine. Firstly, I'm interested in how you got the idea to write this particular story.
For me, ideas for stories come from many different things, like a snippet from a radio programme, something read or heard, being just a couple of examples. For this story, I was at the hairdressers looking through the Celeb photos in Hello and Ok magazine (I stopped reading the spiteful text that goes with them, long ago). Then I came across a different Women’s magazine that included an extremely heart-warming story about a young woman and her soldier boyfriend. I was left with such an unexpected warm glow.
Aha, so you had a magic moment when reading trashy magazines.
Yes, isn’t that the truth! Usually the stories in those magazines seem quite depressing and tawdry, so you can imagine this one left quite an impression. As I thought more about the story, I had a ‘light bulb moment’, as there was one relatively trivial element in the account that got me thinking in that What If? way that writing craft books encourage. Without providing spoilers, I can only say that I realised that I could create my own characters, who suffer a similar tragedy for a novella/short story and explore this element as the twist in my tale. This makes it not quite romance, more realistic fiction with romantic elements.
Yes, there’s quite a difference between the ‘romance’ genre and a ‘romantic’ element to a story.
Now what was informing your plot?
I am fascinated by social psychology and personal relationships and so this story was a great vehicle for exploring what happens when the going gets tough. The ‘who stays and who goes?’ catalyst. The subject is also very topical and full of that all-important conflict, which modern stories demand.
Are you from a military background Madeleine? If not, how did you manage to sound so authentic?
I realised that as I did not come from an army background, I knew nothing about soldiers or what happens to them when they are injured. So I spent the next few days researching these areas, much of which was sobering and heart breaking. I wanted to reflect both sides of opinion about the military. Then I sat down and started to write, mulling over my characters, what they were like, what were their agendas. The rest evolved after edits and revisions. I put the story away for a while, as it was longer than stories in magazines (though it’s occurred to me that it might have made a great serial!)
What happened when you dragged your manuscript out of the ‘bottom drawer’ ?
When I came back to it again recently, it was then that I decided I would launch it as my first e-Publication. After blogging for almost 2 years and submitting stories and challenge pieces, I have recently enjoyed some successes, so I felt more confident to put my story ‘out there’. I am embracing the advice of Neil Gaiman: ‘Learn to write by writing. Make mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something’.
I wanted something simple that encapsulated both the romantic element of the story and the army theme. The UK flag and the silhouette came into my head immediately, so I trawled the royalty-free image websites (for example, freedigitalpress.com) and the design began to materialize. Then I realised the cover wasn’t gritty enough for the story content, so I then played about with other elements and designs and asked my blog audience to vote for their favourites. The feedback/ comments given were invaluable. So I’d like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who took the trouble to vote and comment.
I’ve seen other authors do this, asking reader’s opinions about the cover design. It’s a good way to get readers interested in the upcoming book too!
Thank you Madeleine. It is a pleasure to host you today and I wish you happy sales!
About the Author
With a creative imagination and an imaginary friend to keep her company, Madeleine Sara spent much of her childhood writing stories and making her own books. These days she enjoys blogging on the topic of creative writing, textile crafts, magazine editing and website design. She now lives in Devon, England with her husband and two cats.
Ultimate Sacrifice is available here:
Go here for more launch posts for Madeleine's book.
ALSO, we have India Drummond guest posting at RomanticFridayWriters today. We would love it if you dropped in and said hello.