Welcome, today we are talking with Tricia McGill! I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy writing schedule to answer a few questions. First, let’s delve into who you are. Some of the questions may be untraditional but you’d be surprised at what readers connect to, and sometimes the simplest ‘I can relate to that’ grabs their interest where nothing else can.
Can you share a little something about Tricia McGill that’s not mentioned in your bio on your website?
Thanks so much for your interesting questions. Hmm, I have a feeling I mentioned just about everything of interest about me on my website. I know it explains that 1 was the youngest in the family but do not think I said that I had five older brothers and four sisters, so growing up was like having several mothers and fathers. Because our mother was always so busy, (no washing machines or any other gadgets to make life easier for her in those days) my two oldest sisters really brought me up. My father served in the 14-18 war and was a hard worker—going off to work 6 days a week to provide for his large family. Life was much different in the 50s and 60s and I was more or less a free spirit—allowed to do whatever I wished. Our parents, whether intentionally or not, gave us a good start in life by allowing us to find our own way in the world. Seldom did our father use a harsh word.
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
From the moment I could read I began to write short stories and essays about everything and anything. I always received good remarks from my English teacher so guess the urge to write was always there. But I more or less drifted into the fashion industry because my mother was a seamstress as were three of my sisters so it seemed inevitable. I was forced to retire when my back gave up on me and it was then I began to scribble in earnest, and have never stopped.
How long have you been writing?
I just worked it out that my first published book came out over 30 years ago so add a couple of years of rejections onto that and it’s probably 35.
What have you found most challenging about it?
I guess the rejections are the hardest to deal with when you begin sending out to publishers. But when you start to receive recognition for your work you soon forget the rejections and look back on them as a learning curve. Things changed so markedly for authors when electronic publishing came along, and we began to submit via the internet.
What does writing do for you? Is it fun, cathartic, do you get emotional or exhausted when you write those hot scenes?
It’s always been fun for me. I soon learnt my limits, and stuck to the romance format I enjoyed reading—therefore the genre I enjoy writing, such as Time-Travel, Historical and Contemporary. I was advised years ago to find my one genre and stick to it, but I’ve never really adhered to that advice, except for the romance part. I do love a happy ending. I can’t say writing every scene exhausts me but I often have a cry or a laugh along with my characters. I’ve always known that when the day comes that I do not enjoy writing I may as well give it up.
Describe what your writing routine looks like. Are you disciplined with a strict schedule or do you have to be in the mood?
I wish I could say that I am disciplined, but ashamedly I am not. I never make resolutions or set myself strict goals or routines. I try to write most days but sometimes other things interfere with my schedule. I am a volunteer in my community so that does take me away from my writing at times.
Did you go into writing thinking that it would be a hobby or a job?
Neither really. I began to write in earnest as the urge hit me, not thinking it would become a job or a lifelong passion. Because I was not looking for a career change but doing it for the love of it, I was happy if my readers enjoyed my work. I simply love writing stories and as long as readers like to read them, I will keep on doing it.
What inspires you?
Hard to answer that one. I admire everyone who has a go at a challenge. To me it doesn’t matter if you succeed. More if you try to achieve your goals. We can’t all be great athletes or politicians. Just do your best to be the best you can at whatever you do is my belief. We only have one go at this life so make the best of your time.
Let’s move on and give readers some insight into your personal life.
What is your favorite:
- Animal –Dog, Horse, Elephant. My list is endless I am afraid. Just look at my Pinterest page.
- Food –Ice cream and chocolate (Sadly)
- Movie – Love Actually
- TV show –Doctor Who and British comedies
- Singer –Alan Jackson
- Author –Emily Bronte (I have a treasured 1953 edition of Wuthering Heights, which back then filled me with awe, without really understand the complexity of it.)
What are your pet peeves?
So-called celebrities who have done nothing to better the human race yet consider themselves special when all they do is flaunt their ill-made wealth. People who ridicule others simply for their skin colour, religious beliefs, shape or size without taking the trouble to look into their hearts and souls.
Who is your hero?
My sister Violet will always be without a doubt my number one hero. Overcoming tremendous odds as a child where she spent 3 years of her life in a hospital bed simply because of the inept handling of her problems by callous surgeons. Sadly, she passed four years ago, almost to the day as I write this and I still miss her every minute of the day. I penned her story in Crying is For Babies as I promised her I would. Despite unbelievable odds, she faced life with a smile and met every challenge bravely and was admired by all who knew her.
Give us one thing on your bucket list.
I would love to come face to face with an elephant or a gorilla in their natural habitat, but I am a coward and detest flying so have to be satisfied with visiting them in the zoo.
What would readers find surprising about you?
Have no idea. I am an open book. I hate lying around in bed and am always up by 6 am, earlier if one of my dogs wish to go outside.
If you could go to heaven, who would you visit?
My mother and my sister Violet as mentioned above would be first on the list, and then my husband. I doubt I would be able to find him though. If there is a golf course up there then that is where he will be.
Any bad habits?
I don’t bite my nails or anything worse, but I have been told that I oft times speak without thinking, and then regret being so hasty. Not sure if impatience at rudeness is a bad habit, but I detest people answering their phone while we are waiting in a queue. Nobody else wishes to hear their private conversation. The world is not going to collapse if you don’t answer straight away.
What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you?
I’ve been rummaging around in my brain to find the funniest thing, but my life has been full of so many hilarious incidents it’s impossible to name just one.
Now that our readers know who Tricia McGill is let’s get down to the business of your book, Annie’s Choices, Settlers book 4.
Please tell us a little bit about, Annie’s Choices.
This fourth book in my Settlers Series was never an intention when I was writing Book 3, Challenging Mountains, but as often happens, Annie, the sister of Tim in Book 3 began to nag at me to tell her story. My idea was to round off the series and take the characters full circle and back to where it all started which was Botany Bay in 1818 and then Bathurst where Annie’s mother Bella and father Tiger settled. Annie is kind hearted and naïve, having spent all her early years on her parent’s sheep property. Thus, she is not always wise with her choices, especially where men are concerned and the worst choice of all turns out to be disastrous for her.
Can you tell us a little about the first three books in the Settlers series? Are they standalone romances? Will there be more after Annie’s Choices?
Although the stories follow various members of the same family, they can all be read as standalone. Years ago, when I began Mystic Mountains, then called Blue Haze, I had little idea that book 1 would end up a series. At that time while researching the early days of old Sydney Town, I came across an amazing book full of letters written by British women who had accompanied their husbands to this, as then almost unknown territory, to start a new life. As if the treacherous journey across the oceans wasn’t bad enough, they would then have to travel to barely chartered outback settlements that most times had little in the way of facilitates apart from a barracks for the military, a military hospital and a lock-up for the convicts who accompanied the settlers. One woman’s letter inspired me to begin the book and include the horrendous journey taken by Elizabeth Hawkins and her children, and not to forget her elderly mother, across the Blue Mountains west of Sydney where her husband was to take up a position as head of the stores. Bella was transported for a crime she committed in London. She detests all members of the gentry and thus is determined to hate Tiger, the man who picks her out at the wharf to be his indentured servant.
Book 2 is the story of Remy, Bella’s brother—another convict. He falls in love with the daughter of a bigoted man who would never agree to a convict marrying his daughter. Remy is sent to Moreton Bay, a new penal settlement up north where he suffers appallingly. Along his journey, he finds love of sorts with others, but always dreams of his beautiful Sara.
Book 3 is Timothy’s, Bella and Tigers eldest son’s story. It is 1840, and seeking adventure to escape his boring government job, Tim decides to set off for Port Philip, a brand new settlement down south. His other uncle, Carlos, decides to accompany him, plus a determined young miss who takes it upon herself to join them. The road south might not be as hazardous as the one taken by his parents, but nonetheless there are dangers to be faced—including flooded rivers, bushrangers, not to mention the hazardous terrain.
What was your hardest challenge writing this book?
Keeping the time-line in order is probably one of the biggest challenges. In any historical or even time-travel that is something that has to be worked out exactly. It is useless to mention your characters doing something no matter how mundane and then realizing you have the details out of order. For instance, Port Philip might have been declared a town when Tim arrived there, but facilities were still very primitive, with no proper sanitation, water on tap or sewage system.
What kind of research did you have to do?
As above, lots. You have to know what, when and how about everything down to the smallest thing. Luckily, I relish research. Life is so much easier these days with internet search engines there at the press of a key. Much as I love the library, in the old days it would mean spending many hours poring over research books and endless note taking. Because there was barely a road south in the 1840s in particular I had to research every town, river, inn and hazard along the path the travelers took on horseback. The inns were sparse and few and far between, as were the bridges which meant many hazardous river crossings.
What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters?
Of course there has to be that spark between the characters at the first meeting, even if one or the other of the couple is not so sure if the other is that special someone. I prefer my couples to become friends initially and then let us watch the passion build through the course of the story until they realise they cannot live without each other.
Any other works in progress?
My current wip is another time-travel. I began thinking about this one when Covid-19 first became a reality, for me in my part of the world around the end of February last year. I knew the book was going to be a TT but wasn’t sure what period my protagonist was going to go back to, but then thought of the comparisons between what we were going through as compared to what people went through during the second world war. I specifically chose sending the character back to London during the worst of the Blitz, where people were living under extreme duress. Because my own family were all around during that period and in fact 3 of my 5 brothers joined the forces, therefore I knew their stories well so had the facts at my fingertips. Nonetheless, a lot of research on how the ordinary people lived worked and had fun still had to be undertaken, not to mention the food rationing and curbs on their everyday lives. I then decided to set it in the part of London where I was brought up so had fun returning to an area I knew well.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
My advice to anyone considering becoming an author has always been quite simple—just write, and keep at it if you are sincere.
This has been so much fun. Thanks again for this opportunity to showcase my work.