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On The Table Read, “the best book magazine in the UK“, author Maggie Ballinger talks about her new alternative reality book, James The Third, and being inspired by the monarchy.

JJ Barnes editor of The Table Read online creativity, arts and entertainment magazine

Written by JJ Barnes

www.jjbarnes.co.uk

I interviewed Maggie Ballinger about her life and career, what inspired her to write her new book about a monarchy alternative reality, James The Third, and her creative writing process.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

Maggie Ballinger, author, on The Table Read
Maggie Ballinger

I’m a 71-year-old Mum of two daughters and Granny of four (aged 4-12). I was born in Crewe (up the Alex!), brought up in South London and now lives in Sheffield.

Find more here.

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When did you first WANT to write a book?

In 1980. Before then, had concentrated on short stories.

When did you take a step to start writing?

1980, with the purchase of a typewriter.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

My first novel (not released) was started in 1980. It (along with several others) was stored in shed and eaten by mice. They were all complete rubbish. In 1990, I began writing a novel which was based on a great premise – and it remains a ‘work in progress’ more than 30 years later.

How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?

‘James the Third’ took five months.

the best creativity magazine in the UK, the best book magazine in the UK, the best arts magazine in the UK, the best entertainment magazine in the UK, the best celebrity magazine in the UK, book marketing UK, book promotion UK, music marketing UK, music promotion UK, film marketing UK, film promotion UK, arts and entertainment magazine, online magazine uk, creativity magazine

Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write James The Third?

My husband happened to ask (as you do), ‘What is the difference between an heir presumptive and an heir apparent?’ I explained that The Queen was never heir apparent because her parents might have produced a son, who would have leap-frogged her in the line of succession. This led to a blinding ‘what if?’

What were your biggest challenges with writing James The Third?

The need for speed, because the premise was such a good one for Jubilee Year. During lockdown, it was possible to spend 10 hours a day, every day, putting fingers to keyboard and undertaking a massive amount of research. I couldn’t have done this without decades of writing experience.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?

Prince/King James needed to be unconventional and a bit of a rebel. There was no point having a central figure who conformed.

Because he managed to mingle amongst his subjects unrecognised, his physical appearance had to be fairly nondescript, and he required the intelligence and resourcefulness to carry off his numerous personae.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?

There is no real ‘baddie’ in the book although one character is pursuing a scoop story that could eventually bring down the monarchy. The other ‘antagonist’ is ‘the system’: as king, James was constantly frustrated by the constraints of a constitutional monarchy.

What is the inciting incident of James The Third?

James the Third by Maggie Ballinger on The Table Read
James The Third

I’m not quite sure how to answer this! Did you mean ‘exciting’? There are some dramatic incidents throughout, plus a number of ‘good fun’ events. The denouement is shocking. One reviewer told me that the final 16 pages turned an entertaining book into a masterpiece!

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What is the main conflict of James The Third?

Personal desire versus expectations. It probably reflects how The Queen sometimes feels.

Did you plot James The Third in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?

I knew how it started and also how it had to end – I couldn’t completely rewrite history. I drafted both before doing the middle, which wasn’t straightforward. Getting from A to B involved a few plot twists, some of which evolved along the way. It was then necessary to reposition certain scenes and adjust some of the content.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did James The Third need?

My husband worked alongside me throughout. He contributed ideas, played devil’s advocate and read, then reread, the evolving manuscript. He was especially good at spotting repeated words and any inconsistencies. Thereafter, the whole book was professionally edited.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?

If you have a tale to tell, go for it and don’t be put off by self-doubt.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

Yes indeed! A sequel called Janet and John is currently being written. (It’s about 30% there.)

And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Yes to both questions.

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

Blog     www.baabaapinksheep.co.uk

Published by Universe, James the Third (ISBN No: 191441456X) is available in paperback (£7.95) and Kindle format (£2.84) on Amazon at https://amzn.to/3vWm0lC and https://amzn.to/3vUh4h0

It is also available at Waterstones, WH Smith, Blackwell’s and other independent bookshops.

Instagram − @maggiewritesbooks

Twitter − @BBPSBook

Facebook   Maggie Ballinger

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