Descended from the same bloodline that spawned the likes of James Russell, Amy and Robert Lowell, Margay Leah Justice was fated to be a writer herself from a young age. But even before she knew that there was a name for what she was doing, she knew one thing: She had a deep and unconditional love for the written word. A love that would challenge her in times of need, abandon her in times of distress, and rediscover her in times of hope.
Through her writing, Margay has learned to cope with every curve ball life has thrown her, including the challenges of single parenting, the harsh realities of living in a shelter, coping with the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, and the roller coaster ride of dealing with a child who suffers from bipolar disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome. But along the way she has rediscovered the amazing power of words.
Margay currently lives in Massachusetts with her two daughters, two cats, and a myriad of characters who vie for her attention and demand that their own stories be told.
•When did you begin writing, Margay? At what point did you seriously begin pursuing publication?
I began writing the day I learned how to hold a pencil. I never went anywhere without a notebook and a pencil (eventually, I switched to pens as they didn’t smudge as easily!) Just ask my family! I think it kind of drove them crazy because they never knew what I was writing; I was very secretive about it back then.
As for seriously pursuing publication, I think I really started about five years ago after some half-hearted attempts in the previous ten years.
•What led you to choose the romance genre? Your debut novel is a paranormal. Is this your favorite sub-genre, or do others vie for your attention?
I think the genres choose me, actually. I just write the story as it comes to me and worry about classifying it later. For instance, I didn’t think of Nora’s Soul as being paranormal until it was picked up by a publisher, who made the distinction. To me, it was just a romance with a twist. Now it’s a romance with paranormal elements.
Do I classify myself as a paranormal romance author? No, because there are several other projects I’m working on that are mainstream fiction and one that is a genre-bending paranormal/historical/romance. I love almost all forms of romance. It’s like children–you really can’t pick a favorite.
•Your journey to publication took an unusual turn. Would you share how your writers group embraced an idea and turned several wanna-be-published writers’ dreams into reality?
I would love to tell the story! A couple of years back, when I had determined to get my work out there, I became aware of a contest on a social group called Gather.com, and I thought why not take a chance? I didn’t expect to win, but I felt the exposure would be helpful.
As it turned out, my instincts were spot-on. I met several people through Gather, and we clicked to the point that we started an online critique group–although I think that was a flimsy excuse for us to continue reading each other’s work! What can I say? We were all hooked on each other’s writing!
Somewhere along the way, someone made the suggestion that we should start our own publishing company so we could see our books in print and be able to read each other’s full texts. Well, one of our members, the incredible Mike Simpson, took that idea and ran with it. A few months later, Second Wind Publishing LLC was born, and everyone from that core group of critiquers saw their books in print. Since then, the roster of authors has vastly expanded and offers a wide range of books that otherwise might not have seen print.
•Since you’re part of Second Wind did you still get The Call? If not, how did your contract come about?
My call was actually an email that pretty much stated, “Send your full manuscript to me.” Followed by the contract in the mail, of course! But still, very exciting. Actually, come to think of it, this was probably better for me–I think I would’ve passed out from excitement if he actually called me. This way, I had some time to freak out and then compose myself before I sent off an email accepting the offer!
•You’re a busy mother of two and have faced some tough challenges in life. What or who has helped you through them? What have you learned from these experiences? How have they affected your writing?
My family has been a huge support, but my mother helped me the most. That woman is a rock, and I don’t know how I would’ve made it through without her guidance. She keeps me grounded and sane.
I think the most important lessons I’ve learned from these experiences is that I am a lot stronger than I ever gave myself credit for and I can handle just about anything that’s thrown at me.
As for affecting my writing, these experiences have given me a lot of material for future books and have taught me a lot about emotion and human nature.
•Please tell us about your debut novel, Nora’s Soul, and what your readers can look forward to in upcoming books in your Dante Chronicles series.
Well, at first I thought that Nora’s Soul was a stand-alone book and when I was done, I was done. Only I wasn’t. Because Dante kept invading my dreams (literally, which is how Nora’s Soul originally came about). He just wouldn’t leave me alone, so of course I had to discover why.
What I discovered was that Nora’s Soul was actually just an introduction to the character of Dante and that he had a lot more stories to tell me. You see, Dante isn’t the complete bad boy he first presented himself as. He has actually been through quite a lot himself, and as the series progresses, the reader will catch glimpses of this as they journey with him along his path toward…well, you’ll have to read the books to discover what. I can tell you this, though: He will still try to capture souls for his own purposes–and he will be challenged by Peter every step of the way.
In each book, you will be introduced to new characters who either help or hinder Dante along the way. For instance, in the next book (tentatively titled Revelations), the reader will be introduced to a character who is more of a bad boy than Dante pretends to be, named Jude.
•Here are a couple of questions just for fun. You have some famous ancestors. If you could go back in time, which of them would you most like to meet? What would you ask them? And would you go alone, or is there someone special you’d take along?
Ah, that is a fun question! There are so many I could choose from, as I’m discovering through my genealogy. I have a very interesting group of ancestors. But since we are talking writing, I would have to pick Amy Lowell. She was such an interesting character who was more flamboyant than any fictional heroines of her time.
I think what I would most like to ask her is: What gave you the strength to live your life as you saw fit without bowing to the pressures of your time and following the path expected of you?
And if I were to take anyone with me, it would probably be my daughters–we do everything together!
It’s been great having you as my guest, Margay. And now, in closing, is there a final comment you’d like to make or a question you’d like to ask?
It was my pleasure. I truly enjoyed our time together.
Now I’d like to turn the tables on your readers and ask them a question. Have you ever encountered an angel? If so, please share. I am fascinated by stories of angels, whether they are from the heavens or angels on earth.
Learn More About Margay
Visit her Web site and blog at: http://margayleahjustice.com
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Leave a Comment for Your Chance to Win!
I’ll choose a winner from those who leave a comment for Margay on 2/19 or 20 (and include an email address when prompted, which I don’t share), and will post the winner’s name 2/21.
Congrats to Sheila Deeth, who won a copy of Nora’s Soul donated by Margay.
You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook!
If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by your blog hostess, Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and February 28. Make sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.
On March 1, I will choose one person who will have her choice of five covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your “firstborn” in your hands.
(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)