Friday, August 21, 2015

Interview with South African Author Marion Ueckermann

Please welcome South African author Marion Ueckermann to The Barn Door Book Loft.

Do you travel? Has a place where you have traveled ever sparked a story idea?

As often as I can J During my lifetime I’ve been from one side of South Africa to the other. Other African countries I’ve been to include Lesotho, Swaziland, Mocambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia. European journeys were to France, Switzerland, Hungary, Romania and Finland (twice—summer and winter). In the UK, I’ve been to, amongst other places, London, the Cotswolds, the Lake District, York, several places in Scotland (my ancestral country), and a day’s shopping trip to Wales. We also lived in Ireland for 18 months and travelled to all four points of the country (and that includes Northern Ireland). Going down under, I’ve been to Australia—twice. I’ve never been to the USA, though—almost did once, but landed in hospital the day before my journey instead. However, in September I’ll be travelling to Dallas, Texas to attend the ACFW Conference which I’m super excited about. Note to self: stay off chairs with wheels.

Oh, yes, all the places I travel to spark far too many story ideas. My debut novella, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing), oozed with the different things we experienced when we travelled to Finland for my son’s wedding.

Is there a story behind Oslo Overtures?

Absolutely! The working title for my first published book in the Passport to Romance series, Helsinki Sunrise, was Blueberry Eve. Hence the working title for this story was Pink Skies. When I realized the trend my publisher was adopting for the book titles, I changed Pink Skies to Oslo Overtures prior to submitting. They kept the suggested title J

But, that’s not the story behind Oslo Overtures...that’s just a little history.

One morning I was listening to the local radio station and they were asking listeners to call in and say whether women should be pilots. One lady phoned in and said, “Absolutely not. If women were meant to fly, the skies would be pink.” I loved her comment (which I later came to learn is a common phrase), and I knew I wanted to pen a story titled Pink Skies, using this as a premise. So I set about brainstorming stuff about women pilots, mainly in the World War II era. I couldn’t get anything to work with any of the European cities Pelican was looking for stories in. You see, not only are the authors tied to particular cities, but there are three items that had to be written into each story, and one of the characters must have travelled to the place using a passport.

I then remembered these had to be contemporary romances, and so World War II went out of the window.

I still couldn’t settle on a story idea though to use my Pink Skies idea until my husband said to me in the car one day as we were discussing this, “Why not use wingsuiters?”
I knew he’d hit on a great idea. About two months before, he had shown me a documentary video of wingsuit flying and one particular wingsuiter who was attempting to fly through a hole in a mountain in the Far East.

I immediately set about researching and the story just fell into place. I even managed to land a coffee date with probably the world’s best woman wingsuiter. I’d contacted her after finding her on the web to ask some research questions and discovered that she was coming to South Africa, her second home to the USA. I dedicated Oslo Overtures to her because she’s a courageous, adventurous and inspiring woman.

What is unique about the setting? How does it enhance the story?

Beautiful does not even begin to describe Norway...breathtaking is perhaps a little closer to the truth. Honestly, I can’t think of any love stories set in Norway, so yes, I believe that it’s a totally unique setting.

When I first started writing Oslo Overtures, my story about wingsuiters, I had no idea that Norway is one of THE best places in the world for wingsuiting. Don’t you just love it when you dive into something and God allows you to walk on water? Writing Oslo Overtures was one of those ‘walk on water’ experiences.

How much research do you have to do for the genre in which you write?

Generally quite a lot, but I research as and when the need arises. The research for me is all in the locations, the culture, and the vocations of my characters.

Where do you most like to write?

Often I land up writing in bed, and whilst it’s cozy during the winter, it does not help my aching back. I most like to write in my writing room, at my desk where I have an extra screen which is great for writing on one screen and keeping my characters’ visuals open on the other (or Facebook, or email, or…)

How do you find the time to write?

Having a 9-5 job (actually 9.30-6), it’s really hard to carve out writing time. Sometimes I just have to close the door on that writing room and try avoid the distractions (but that’s really hard when two cute little faces from next door stop by for a visit).

Let’s just say, bedtime at 3am is not uncommon.

What’s one genre you have never written, and probably never will?

Sci-fi. Don’t read it, don’t really like Sci-fi movies, so don’t think there’s a snowball’s hope in…‘a hot place’… that I’ll ever try my hand at this genre.

What are your five favorite words?

That would have to be: Noel, Ryan, Kyle, Phoenix, Liam—the five most important men in my life—my husband, sons and grandsons.

But if I was told no family names, then it would definitely be: chocolate, tea, publishing contract, and writing.

How do people react when they find out you write?

For the most part they’re intrigued and want to engage in conversation with me about my writing and publishing journey. They find it fascinating and didn’t realize how much goes into the writing process.

Some of course think that I’ll be resigning my day job soon because I’m going to make all these millions J I just smile and shake my head.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

The next book due out is Poles Apart, and will release sometime in November. The story, set in Lapland, is about a frustrated author suffering from writer’s block and under a tight deadline to turn in a Christmas novel to her publisher. On a whim, she travels to the land of Santa Claus to get away from facing her past on Christmas day, and to fuel her muse. She gets far more, however, than just a little Christmas magic and kisses from Santa under the mistletoe.

Readers, you may purchase the book at:
Barnes & Noble                 
 Pelican Book Group          

Marion Ueckermann is giving away a copy of her ebook  Oslo Overtures.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post)


Hope Dougherty said...

Marion, thanks so much for explaining about the inspiration behind Oslo Overtures. Have fun in Dallas! I'm so bummed that I can't attend ACFW this year and meet you!

Marion Ueckermann said...

It would have been so great to meet you, too, Hope. Thanks for stopping by.

Gail Kittleson said...

I won't be in Dallas, either, Marion, but your plot sounds intriguing. I write WWII stories--maybe you can one day return to that WWII pilot idea, eh? So many incredible stories in that era.

E C Jackson said...

Marion, I read the first critiques of Pink Skies with ACFW. Now I get to read the finished product. Congratulations!

Kim Amundsen said...

Nice interview. kamundsen44(at)yahoo(dot)com. Kim

Pam Harstad said...

Marion, I love the idea of travel with romance. I hope White Rose will offer your books in paperback, too.

Pam Harstad, ACFW

Ann Ellison said...

Loved Olso Overtures and enjoyed reading the story behind it. Please do not enter me into the drawing as I have already read it and would love to give someone else a chance to enjoy it also.

Anonymous said...

love to win your book! Shelia Hall sheliarha64(at)yahoo(dot)com

Marion Ueckermann said...

Gail, don't tempt me :) Sorry I'll miss you in Dallas, too. Hope you get to spend some time with my wingsuiters.

Marion Ueckermann said...

Thanks E C Jackson. Trust you'll enjoy the final product :)

Marion Ueckermann said...

Thank you, Kim. All the best in the drawing.

Marion Ueckermann said...

Pam, I love writing romance with travel ... so glad that White Rose have this great series. My third book, set in Glasgow, Scotland has just been contracted. Unfortunately the novellas they don't offer in paperback, but who knows, maybe they'll put a few together and then offer a paperback collection. Hope so.

Marion Ueckermann said...

Thanks, Ann. So glad that you enjoyed Oslo Overtures.

Marion Ueckermann said...

Shelia, all the best on the drawing. Do hope you get to read Oslo Overtures sometime though.

Connie said...

I have never heard the expression 'If women were meant to fly, the skies would be pink.” Your book sounds lovely!
cps1950 at gmail dot com

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