Interview With Author Margaret Sorick

Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

My name is Meg Sorick —actually it’s Margaret but everybody calls me Meg. I write because I love to read. And really isn’t that every avid reader’s dream? To write a novel of their own? So I’m living the dream! Now, if I would just top the best seller’s list or at least become modestly profitable… Ah, well, every aspiring author knows that writing is a marathon, not a sprint.

So far I’ve published five books in a series set in my home region of Bucks County Pennsylvania. The Bucks County Novels are stories about ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. My debut novel: Three Empty Frames won first prize in The Writer’s Digest E-book Awards for Mainstream Fiction in 2017. The books are fun, fast moving mysteries with elements of humor, family dynamics and a bit of romance.

What is/are the story(ies) behind your book(s)?

I got the idea to actually try my hand at writing while sitting in the stylist’s chair. I always have a book with me, either in paper or on my tablet. My stylist said, “You’re always reading. Have you ever thought about writing a book yourself?” And it got me thinking. The question was: what to write about. I figured the best approach for a novice was to write the kind of book I like to read for entertainment, rather than attempt some masterwork of literature. So I wrote a contemporary mystery and set it in a location I know well: Bucks County, Pennsylvania, about an hour north of Philadelphia. I created female characters I’d like to be (or be friends with) and male characters I’d like to have as boyfriends, husbands or brothers. It was an absolute blast! And I was hooked, turning one book into a series of five and possibly more to come in the future.

What inspires/inspired your creativity?

I have always had an active imagination. I’m an only child so I spent a great deal of time on my own growing up. I invented imaginary friends and adventures to fill all the hours spent alone. Besides that, my father was an amazing storyteller. He could make up a little story about a person or place almost on demand. I love thinking I inherited that quality from him. Additionally, I also draw and paint, finding my inspiration in nature and in people. My favorite subjects for drawing are faces! I love finding old photographs of historical figures and turning them into hand drawn portraits.

How do you deal with creative block?

Sometimes you just need to walk away from a project when you’re stuck. When I can’t find the words, I keep creative through art. Drawing and painting fires another part of the creative brain and often clears the fog of writer’s block for me. And of course nothing can beat getting out in nature and unplugging for a while. I am fortunate to live in an area with lots of trees, streams and winding country roads. I try to go for a walk/jog every day.

What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

Including too much information, aka infodumping. I have to restrain myself from over explaining background details. Some things are just not important to the story. Give the reader some credit, they can figure some things out without the author laying out every little detail of a character’s background or personality. If you feel it must be explained then distribute the information throughout the story rather than laying it on the reader all at once. Also, telling rather than showing —another big mistake a writer can make. A book comes to life when the characters perform rather than recite, if you know what I mean.

How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

First let me say, there are differences between having a reader not like your book because it just isn’t their taste and having them not like it because it was badly written. I am not going to rewrite my story to satisfy someone else’s taste. However, if a reader genuinely points out an inconsistency, a flaw with the concept or some other sort of error, I am more than willing to accept the criticism and revise accordingly or apply the advice to the next project. I try my best to learn from the experience. And ignore the people who are just negative because they are mean!

What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

One of the best things I encountered was finding an online community of writers through blogging. I felt rather isolated and unsure of myself prior to that. Fellow writers share your struggles, can give excellent feedback and can be a wonderful support when you’re feeling lost. I have learned so much from these wonderful people and I’d like to think I contributed my own knowledge and experience to the conversation as well.

The most surprising thing I discovered when I began this process was just how uninterested people in my real life were in my writing. I’ve since learned in talking to other writers about it, that it isn’t all that uncommon for friends and family not to care or to take it seriously. I wasn’t prepared for it though, and it was really discouraging. Which is another reason I was so grateful to find other writers to interact with.

What role do emotions play in creativity?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’d be surprised if any disagreed that emotions and creativity are closely intertwined. I can pour my anger, joy and sadness into my stories. The more powerful the emotion, the more dynamic the writing. The same goes for my art— painting especially. Creating something whether in writing or on canvas has a way of soothing the anxiety, calming the fear, allaying sadness and increasing a sense of well-being.

Do you have any creativity tricks?

Observe and ask questions. Try going to a public place like a park or a restaurant and watch the people. Ask who are they? Why are they here? Read the emotions on their faces. Are they bored, stressed, excited? And why? What’s happened to make them feel that way? I can usually pull a short story out of some time spent that way!

What are your plans for future books?

I have two partially completed novels in the works. One is a historical novel set partly during the time of World War One. I’ve been reading and researching the time period so as to write the setting and the dialogue accurately. This novel is a work of the heart — I had a great grandfather who fought in the fields of France.

So from one extreme to the other— the second work in progress is a science fiction novel. The setting is contemporary and centers around advanced artificial intelligence and a shadowy government agency. I have a lot of homework to do on this one before it’s finished.

Tell us some quirky facts about yourself.

One girl’s quirky is another girl’s normal! I have a post it note problem. They cover all my office surfaces and I buy them by the palette at Costco. I have an almost entirely black wardrobe so that I don’t have to think about what to wear every day. I talk out loud to myself and yes, I answer out loud too. And like many writers (and introverts) I crave quiet time and solitude. Maybe that’s not really a quirk.

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