Maggie lives in Ripon, North Yorkshire with her husband and two elderly feral cats, Thomas and Tabitha. She has two grown up sons who are frequent visitors to her home.
So now you’ve met Maggie and the cats, let’s find out more about her….
1 How do you write? Is everything planned to perfection? Do you ever change tack as you go along or always stick to a pre-made plan?
It depends what I’m working on. Non-fiction generally lends itself to a pre-made plan, although I don’t follow it slavishly. Travel and local and/or family history are favourite subjects, although I’ve also written about the pros and cons of computer software for language teaching and translation, working as a film & television ‘extra’ and family matters. Local amateur dramatic and operatic groups sometimes call upon me to review their shows as well.
2 Do you have a writing ritual? Meditation, certain cup for your tea, writing trousers?
I like to be comfortable when I write, which generally means wearing an old pair of jeans and whichever casual top is appropriate for the temperature in the house. I don’t exactly meditate but I do a lot of thinking with my eyes shut and probably drift in and out of full wakefulness at times.
Tea is, of couse, essential and I have a stock of big colourful mugs with their own lids from a Chinese supermarket in Leeds. They keep the drink inside hot for a long time, which saves a lot of running up and downstairs.
As often as not, I have at least one cat beside me on the desk to bounce ideas off. Humans, on the other hand, are definitely persona non grata when I’m writing and I have a fierce sign on my study door to warn them off. Fortunately, I have an understanding family.
3 Aside from writing, what make you tick? Tell us 5 things about yourself we probably don’t know.
That’s a tough one because I don’t know how much you’ve gleaned about me already from the Internet. I like to think that I could have been the next Barbara Taylor Bradford or Jilly Cooper if my parents and headmistress in Leeds hadn’t dissuaded me from leaving school at 16 to join the Yorkshire Post as a cub reporter. As it was, I went into teaching after university and spent more years than I care to remember teaching modern languages and EFL in classrooms at home and abroad. Amongst several other jobs, I’ve also spent time as….
a camp counsellor (US spelling) in a resort very like the one depicted in Dirty Dancing
an interpreter/tour guide in Germany and Morocco
(very briefly and disastrously) a cocktail waitress
My current day job as a ‘village regular’ on Emmerdale is somewhat different, as I’m sure you can imagine, and I’ve also taken part in one off television dramas, a few rather unmemorable films, the odd commercial, The Weakest Link and many episodes of Heartbeat, The Royal and A Touch of Frost.
I’m still a fan of trad jazz and some folk music but salsa (the dance, not the sauce, although I like that too) has become a passion in recent years and is popping up increasingly in my writing nowadays. For example, my eBook Had We But World Enough includes a story about someone who comes back from a salsa holiday in Cuba with far more than she bargained for.
I’ve been a regular Swanwicker since 2006 when I won a free place in the poetry competition and I was lucky enough to win again in 2008, that time in the children’s story competition.
4 If you were stranded on a desert island with shelter, food and water, what 5 items would you want with you?
A docile young cow. I’m vegetarian but not a vegan.
One of Trevor Baylis’ wind up radios in case I’m close enough to land to get a signal.
A guitar and playing manual. I’ve always fancied learning how to play properly but never managed to stick at it long enough to master more than a few chords.
A First Aid kit.
A selection of everyday medical remedies to keep me going until I learn how to make my own (See below)
5 On said island, what 5 books would you take and why?
Robinson Crusoe and The Swiss Family Robinson for inspiration and to keep me optimistic. Also ‘how to’ books on animal husbandry, cheese making and natural medicines.
6 Off the island now, which famous person would you like to have dinner with?
Ian Hislop. Behind that innocent baby face lurks one of the keenest intellects and sharpest wits of our time.
7 Your current writing projects?
I’m working on my third eBook collection, some new ideas for women’s magazine stories and dusting off a novel I’ve been writing for several years. Set partly during the German occupation of WWII, it explores the repercussions of that tragic episode in French history for the guilty, the innocent and the generation yet to be born.
Most of my writing so far has been for magazines, newspapers and journals – read one week and used to line the hamster’s cage the next. That is why I decided at the beginning of this year to group some of my many short stories into collections and upload them to Amazon as eBooks. Both these include some previously published stories and competition winners and are available from any Amazon website. The UK Links are below:
Anyone For Murder? also includes some stories inspired by my days on set. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Anyone-Murder-Other-Stories-ebook/dp/B00AW28FOE/ref=pd_sim_kinc_1
Had We But World Enough focuses on people moving, some willingly and others not, to new countries. Some of the backgrounds and characters reflect my own experiences, although I’ve added many a twist to the original events. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Had-But-World-Enough-ebook/dp/B00BKPRB9C/ref=pd_sim_kinc_1
I am indebted to my son Richard for putting my stories into a suitable format for uploading and also for the cover designs of both books.
My website is www.maggiecobbett.co.uk and I tweet as @MaggieCobbett
Thank you so much Maggie for sharing with us. Please check out Maggie’s website and her wonderful collections of stories.