Please welcome Maggie Gilbert to the virtual offices today! Maggie is celebrating the release of Riding on Air, a YA romance set in the world of competitive riding. Yeah! One look at the cover and I knew I wanted to ask Maggie some questions, and she graciously agreed to stop by for a chat.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Maggie Gilbert] Eclectic. And maybe heading for eccentric too
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Riding on Air?
[Maggie Gilbert] It’s about a teenage girl with a horse she’s devoted to and a dream she’ll do almost anything to achieve, despite some fairly significant obstacles in her way. And then a gorgeous boy she’s always ached for comes along to complicate things even further. Horses, a gorgeous boy and romance – what more could you want?
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Maggie Gilbert] I’d planned on writing some horse books aimed at younger readers but then I started thinking about what it’s like to be a teenage girl besotted with your horse but also crushing madly on a boy. With the characters, once I knew Melissa had JRA then who she is evolved out of her illness; there were things she just couldn’t do and this shaped everything about her. When it came to William, I wanted a boy worthy of her courage and determination, and he had to be sweet but also strong. He had to be someone who will do the right thing even if that is going to cost him. And he had to be totally gorgeous, of course.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Melissa?
[Maggie Gilbert] Resolute, self-contained, fervent
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If William had a theme song, what would it be?
[Maggie Gilbert] What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction. It sums up the way William sees Melissa, and how she makes his heart skip even though she has no idea. Not that he’d admit he’s ever even heard of that song
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Melissa is never without.
[Maggie Gilbert] Hope. She goes after her dreams even when it seems impossible.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in William’s pockets?
[Maggie Gilbert] Money, receipts, phone. He tends to leave everything in his ute, such a boy.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Melissa’s greatest regret?
[Maggie Gilbert] I can’t answer that without plot spoilers!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Maggie Gilbert] Stephen King would be the biggest influence. I read everything he writes and he is the master of making the ordinary interesting, and of developing utterly believable characters. And although on the surface his stories are about monsters, underneath he’s writing about themes that resonate for me, like love, loyalty, friendship and heroism. I think all the creative works you expose yourself to – art, photos, magazines, songs, movies, books, TV series – have an impact on what you write even if you don’t realise it.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Maggie Gilbert] Coffee, laptop, time. Especially coffee – I can always make do with a pen and notebook
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Maggie Gilbert] Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Maggie Gilbert] Gosh, it’s hard to say – Mum taught me to read when I was three, so that’s a lot of books ago. An early book that sticks out though is Wild Pony by Lucy Rees. I’d read a lot of horsey books but that one blew me away. It stayed with me and I re-read it over the years.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Maggie Gilbert] It can vary depending on what the latest obsession is (gardening, learning cello, quilting). But there are some constants: I read as much as I can – sometimes when I really should be doing other things! I also like watching a movie or an episode of a favourite TV series. I love to run and I’m trying to get back into that. If I’m not inside at the laptop, there’s not much better than a sunny afternoon in the back yard with a good book and my dogs.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Maggie Gilbert] I have a website with blog and also newly established author pages on Goodreads and Amazon or you can find me on Twitter or Facebook. I’d love it for people to pop in and say ‘Hi’.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
You can purchase Riding on Air from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below:
About the book:
For readers of Jenny Downham, John Greene and Maureen McCarthy, a poignant young adult romance about following your dreams and realising what really matters.
What can you do when your own hands are the enemy? Hold on tight, for as long as it takes.
Melissa has secrets. Sure it’s pretty obvious she has Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, but no one knows how bad it is or how many pills she takes for the pain. She’s determined to make her horse Jinx into a champion and she dreams that her childhood friend William will one day see her, rather than her condition.
So when William asks her out and Jinx is shortlisted for selection in an elite training program, it seems Melissa’s dreams have come true. But when her secrets are exposed, all those dreams come crashing down around her. Can William ever forgive her? And can she learn about letting go in time to truly ride on air when it matters most?
About the author:
Maggie Gilbert can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to be a writer, even when she was otherwise occupied. She’s been an executive editor, an equestrian journalist and worked with horses for the Modern Pentathlon event at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Currently she’s an administration officer with an Agricultural Society by day and a writer of romantic stories by night—an ideal combination. She lives on a property in country NSW with her family and dogs.