Friday, July 13, 2007

M C Beaton Interview

From the latest newsletter from Hachette Books (I can't find the actual newsletter online but you can sign up here):
M.C. BEATON has won international acclaim for her bestselling Hamish Macbeth mysteries, and the BBC has aired six episodes based on the series. Also the author of the Agatha Raisin series and Regency romances, M.C. BEATON lives in a Cotswold cottage with her husband. When asked about her path to becoming a successful writer, she responded:

I first started writing when I was working as a fiction buyer in a bookshop in Glasgow and became, by a freaky chance, theatre critic for the Scottish Daily Mail. After that I was fashion editor for Scottish Field and then crime reporter for the Scottish Daily Express. I moved to Fleet Street and became chief woman reporter of the London Daily Express.

I moved to the States after marrying Middle East Correspondent, Harry Scott Gibbons. I had been reading a lot of Regencies and criticising them and he urged me to write one and then found me my present agent, Barbara Lowenstein.

I think George Orwell was right in that one is influenced by what one reads in one's early teens. I was reading Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen, Sir Arthur Bryant's Age of Elegance, biographies of Wellington and Beau Brummell. I also read every Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie book I could get my hands on.

Six weeks after Barbara sold my first Regency, I was contracted by Dell to write three Edwardians and then subsequently two other Regencies for one publisher and two for another. That is why I used to have so many names. Marion Chesney is my maiden name and I made up the rest.

I was inspired to write the first Hamish Macbeth while I was with my husband and son in Sutherland at Lochinvar, learning to fly cast for salmon. There were eleven of us in the Sutherland wilderness of mountain and moor and I thought the setting would be a great idea for a traditional whodunit. I was then encouraged by my editor at St. Martin's Press to write a Cotswold series.

How did I become M.C. Beaton? I was asked to find a Scottish name which would divorce me from the Regencies. I said, "The queen she had four Marys/The nicht she'll hae but three/There was Mary Beaton, Mary Seaton, Mary Carmichael and me." Beaton was picked and the initials M C for Marion Chesney.

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