Author Name: Margaret Rodenberg
Genre: Historical Fiction
Book: Finding Napoleon – it’s based partly on Napoleon Bonaparte’s own attempt to write a novel and costars his little-known last love, Albine de Montholon.
Are you a full-time author? If not, what’s your side gig? I’m an escapee from the business world who’s thrilled to be a full-time author.
Favorite author/books: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald are three perfect novels that I reread every few years. For more recent releases, I loved Stephanie Dray’s The Women of Chateau Lafayette, Louis Bayard’s Courting Mr. Lincoln, and Emily St John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel.
What experiences or people have influenced your writing the most? I lived in France as a young teen, which sparked my passion for travel, history, and language. Plus, I come from a bookish family and took it for granted that I’d write novels.
Do you keep a writing journal and if so, how do you use it? No, but during my travels, I jot down notes, collect mementos, and take a ton of photos.
Do you belong to a writers’ group? If so, describe your experience: When I was starting out, I lucked into a supportive circle of talented women writers. We met in person every three weeks for ten years. I still have a weekly check-in with one of them, and others read drafts for me. I also have a remote group of insightful writers whose monthly critiques are invaluable.
Are you up with the sun or do you burn the midnight oil? I prefer a leisurely awakening so midmorning coffee to midnight oil are best for me.
How do you get over a writing slump? I don’t have “slumps” so much as distractions. When I do get frustrated with a project, I switch to a different aspect of the work—marketing, researching, or organizing—or to a different section of the manuscript.
Do you prefer writing dialogue or descriptive passages? Oh, I love dialogue—that’s where the drama happens. Plus, I’m a theatre buff, so I like the talky stuff.
What are you working on now? A French Revolution-era dystopian novel about social justice that speaks to our time.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about writing and publishing a book? Do it! But make the writing itself—the immense intellectual gratification—your primary reward. Be realistic about the publishing industry and the financial rewards.
Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which podcasts do you find the most interesting? I listen to reruns of the day’s cable news shows, book podcasts such as write-minded, The NYT Book Review or Book Riot, and French and Spanish language lessons. Mostly, I listen to audio books.
Favorite escape: Going anywhere with my husband. We’re as happy in a Paris art museum as we are kayaking in British Columbia or hiking in our local national park.
Have you ever tried Kombucha tea? Yes, but I’m not an enthusiast.
Do you prefer a couch with pillows or no pillows? If the couch is deep, I want a pillow for support, but, please, don’t surround me with them.
Would you rather rake leaves, shovel snow or weed? Shoveling snow on a clear, crisp day. Love the invigorating workout!
Favorite mask – disposable paper, plain fabric, colorful print or something else? I recently bought an adjustable gaiter with a slot for disposable filters (double ‘em up!) that I really like.
Biggest writing challenge since Covid-19: Initially, I had difficulty focusing, because I was anxious about the future. Now, I burrow into my writing and try to forget the outside world.
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