Fast 5 Friday: Gracie MacGregor Giveaway

I had the privilege to read an advanced copy of Australian author Gracie MacGregor's debut novel last month, Hearts on Hold, and wanted to interview Gracie as my first author. 

You can find more information on Gracie by visiting:
Website  Twitter  and  Goodreads

You can purchase Hearts on Hold by clicking HERE


What was the first book that you ever remember reading?

I know it wasn't the first (my wonderful parents read to me from my earliest days, so important for children) but the first I remember reading myself was Anna Sewell's Black Beauty. I was 6 or 7, absolutely horse-mad, and that book broke my heart. I so much hated what happened to Beauty's friend Ginger that I rewrote the story, in an old school exercise book. My parents were so proud, they took it to show my school teacher, Mr Ashburn. Unfortunately, I had an enormous crush on Mr Ashburn, and in the contrary way of shy little girls, was so embarrassed by the attention that I destroyed my very first manuscript. But I still have that original, careworn copy of Anna Sewell's beautiful book.

You're having a fabulous dinner party, which five authors (living or deceased) would you invite?

Five is really tough. I have some wonderful author friends, so I'm going to assume they know I love having dinner with them any time!

Dorothy Dunnett, the most amazing historical fiction author who ever wrote (a big call, I know, but if you haven't discovered her Lymond Chronicles, you are missing out on the greatest treat of your life).

Jane Austen, because I think even today she could still teach me a thing or two about gender politics.

Pablo Neruda (do poets count? Please let them count!) because he'd persuade every woman at the party she was desperately desirable, regardless of bad-hair days or the effects of a second helping of dessert.

Nora Ephron. I'm desperately sad she's gone, because her writing always filled me with joy and inspired me to try to be smarter, always smarter, more observant and more truthful.

Ian McEwan. I'm not sure he needs any further explanation!

(And if poets DON'T count, JK Rowling, because I admire a mind that can create that sort of magic, and would hope proximity might help a little of the magic rub off on me!)

What was the inspiration behind your debut novel, Hearts on Hold?

I was very lucky to spend a couple of weeks one summer holidaying in Xlendi on Gozo where the novel is set (do other readers do this? I was actually retracing a few of the footsteps of Dorothy Dunnett's Francis Lymond! Please don't call me obsessed, at least not to my face). The whole Maltese archipelago is such a wonderful combination of old and new, of Christian and Moorish, and this is particularly true of Gozo. I started to think about how traditions and cultures remain and adapt over time, and how quickly and brutally our modern world can sometimes force change. I thought Xlendi would be an ideal bolt-hole, if a bolt-hole was needed. And I imagined Cate one morning up on the headland after a run, and the story just took off after her.

Other than professor Blackshaw, which male protagonist from any other novel, could sweep you off your feet any day?

I'm afraid I'm very easily swept! But my current favourite is Jamie Fraser, from Diana Gabaldon's brilliant Outlander series.

I love to support independent and debut novelists, do you have any words of wisdom for potential authors wanting to make the leap into writing?

Thanks very much for the support, it really makes a huge difference! The key for me (and I'm by no means the first to say it, we all stand on the shoulders of the giants who wrote before us) is to finish. Finish something. Pick the best of the half-written manuscripts under your bed or the half-formed ideas in your head, and write until it's finished. Finishing Hearts on Hold gave me an enormous sense of achievement, even knowing it needed a massive amount of work, and that spurred me on to DO the work of rewriting, to make it the best I could make it. Before, I'd been a terrible tweaker - I had (still have) four or five bits of manuscripts whose first and second and third chapters I would endlessly "edit", but the secret is in finishing the first draft. It's fine to tell yourself it's just a vomit draft, if that takes the pressure off as you write, but just finish it.

Thanks to Harlequin Australia, romantics can win an eCopy of Gracie's novel, Hearts on Hold.

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