(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Margo was written by Margo Upson.)
Kelly sat on the ground with her back to a tree and a notebook in her hands as she scribbled down idea. The soothing sound of the nearby stream calmed her, and the peaceful silence of this garden washed over her refreshingly. Ideas always came to Kelly when she had time to think.
However, she heard footsteps on the beaten path, so she finished the sentence, closed the notebook, and rose to her feet just as a woman came around the bend in the path. Kelly smiled at her. “Margo Upson?” She approached her, reaching out her hand to shake Margo’s. “I’m Kelly Blanchard. A pleasure to meet you. I trust you are well today?”
“Very well, thank you. And yourself?” Margo inquired, nervously tugging at her shirt.
“I’m quite well. Thank you.” Kelly smiled warmly then gestured to the garden paths. “Shall we walk?” As they began strolling down a beaten path, Kelly glanced Margo’s way. “So tell me about yourself. What do you do in real life? How did you get to where you are now?”
Margo paused to watch a butterfly circle around and past them. “Oh, I should have brought my camera,” she said, mostly to herself, before turning back to answer Kelly’s question. “I work as a freelance writer and marketing assistant, which basically means I do everything from blog posts and social media to designing print ads. There are never two days the same! I started as a freelance writer, and got into the marketing side of things almost by accident, but I love it.”
“Ah, both marketing and freelance writing are difficult, but I’m glad you enjoy it!” Kelly smiled widely at her then watched as birds flew from some trees before turning her attention back to Margo. “How did you get into writing though? Have you always been a writer?”
“I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing something, whether it was something on my own or a shared story with a couple of friends, and I’ve always had an overabundance of imagination I grew up in the middle of nowhere, so I spent my days acting out daring adventures in the woods behind my house.” She paused, grinning as she mimicked a few swipes with an invisible sword. “I could spend all day, lost in my head. I never saw it as more than a hobby, though. I didn’t dream about growing up to be a famous writer; I just wanted to write! It wasn’t until the last few years that I started looking at my writing as something that I wanted to share with others.”
“And what sparked the change? From a hobby to something you wanted to share with others?” Kelly furrowed her brows then motioned for Margo to follow her off the well-beaten path down a less beaten path through the woods to a beautiful shaded clearing in the woods where there were benches near the crystal-clear stream. “We can sit here if you’d like.”
“Oh, this is gorgeous,” Margo said, as she sat down on one of the benches. She dipped her toes into the water and thought a moment. “I don’t know if there was any one thing. I had gotten so used to writing as a hobby, and by that time, I also had two young daughters, so taking the time to dedicate to writing ‘for real’ was not only hard to fit into my schedule, it was also really scary. Around this same time, I met a group of other creative artists, and I began interacting with more writers through NaNoWriMo. I think seeing the way everyone else was dedicated to sharing their art really inspired me to go for it, too, even if I did have to fight with myself, and my own insecurities, a bit at the start.”
Kelly smiled when she heard this. “I’m glad you’ve made it more a hobby—especially with having two daughters! That’s quite a feat.” She lowered to sit on the bench beside Margo and sighed at the peacefulness of their surroundings. Glancing back at Margo, she asked, “So what do you write? What story of yours would you like to discuss?”
Margo laughed. “Thank you. And that’s a good question. I’m still trying to figure out how to describe it. I write historical fiction with romance and paranormal elements added in. Right now, I’m working on a novel called Grisamore. It’s about a historic preservationist named Emma. She buys an old home on a Civil War battlefield in Tennessee, hoping to restore it and then sell it so she can open her own firm.” She shrugged, and turned to Kelly with a conspiratorial smile. “Once she moves in, though, she finds that the house comes with one very big surprise.”
“Like…a ghost surprise or what exactly?” Kelly raised her brows, watching Margo. “Or can you not tell me without spoiling the story?” She was sensitive and aware of that, but she was very curious to hear more of the story.
Margo shrugged. “I can give you a few details without giving too much away. Yes, it’s haunted by the ghost of Captain Ben Alderson. He’s going to give Emma some problems. She spends the first few chapters convinced that there are raccoons living in the attic.” Margo watched a couple of small fish swim past in the stream, quickly pulling her feet back out when one got too close.
Kelly smiled. “Oh, this sounds like a fun story! What inspired you to write this story though?” She asked, leaning forward so she could look at the fish in the stream.
“I’ve always loved history. Not the textbook, facts-and-figures version, but the lives of everyday people during major historical events. There are always stories there. People don’t stop living their lives just because of war.” She paused for a moment. “I started Grisamore with Ben. I could see this man, this soldier, who had been standing guard over this property for 150 years, just waiting for something. And it took years of me taking out the story every year or so, trying to understand his story, for me to figure it out. Once I did, everything else fell into place.”
A grin crossed Kelly’s face as she heard this, and she pulled back, casting Margo a look. “That’s encouraging actually–that it took you years to figure out the story before actually writing it. Most writers think they need the story now, but that’s not how all stories come. I’m glad you stuck with it though and that it finally came to you.” She nodded, smiling at Margo, but then she glanced up at the sky and sighed. “Our time’s about up, so we should be heading back.” She rose to her feet to guide the way. “But what would you like your readers to take from your story? What would you like them to remember most about the story once they read it?” And she listened as they began walking back down the path.
“Yes! I’d hate for an author to get discouraged because they think they need all of the answers all at once. Storytelling is a process, and some stories take longer to tell.” Margo turned back for a last glance at the clearing and nearly tripped over a root in the path. Quickly righting herself, she turned her thoughts back to Kelly’s question. “That’s tough. I think I want my readers to close the book with a smile on their face. I also want them to have a better appreciation for some of the amazing history we have in our own communities. There are some amazing stories in our pasts if we take the time to look for them.”
“History is always intriguing and full of wonderful stories–and lessons–if we just look at it.” Kelly nodded in agreement, and they finally came to the more worn path. “I’m glad you came here to chat. It was really great meeting with you and hearing about you and your story. I hope you the very best with it all. Writing historical fiction isn’t an easy task, but it’s worth it.” Kelly smiled. “Come, I’ll show you the way out.”
Margo Upson’s novel, ‘Grisamore’, is due to be released sometime late 2016. Be sure to follow her on social media to be kept up-to-date on all her progress!