Writer fulfils dreams and fills pages in her 50s
CALLING all would-be writers who think they may have a book in them but have never dared to take to the pen or keyboard.
It is never too late.
Maggie Christensen has just completed her sixth novel, and she did not start writing until she was in her 50s.
"I decided to fulfil a lifelong dream to become an author inspired by English author Marcia Willett and Australian author Liz Byrski, both who began publishing fiction in their 50s,” Maggie said.
"I decided maybe I could do it too. Both (these authors) write about older women.”
It's Maggie's belief older women are either ignored in literature or portrayed as stereotypes on the periphery of the main story, which she has helped change through her characters.
She has certainly done her bit to help changed that through the strong mature women characters in her books.
"For most of my career my writing consisted of course materials, reports, submissions and conference papers,” she said.
"I'd always wanted to write fiction and in my 50s I started by taking a couple of correspondence and online courses. But they had me writing short stories which I didn't enjoy. I then wrote two Mills & Boon books which I submitted for publication. But I didn't enjoy reading Mills & Boon so I thought I should write books I wanted to read: stories about mature women.”
Like all authors with a completed manuscript, finding a publisher was almost impossible.
Maggie tried to go through the traditional route, submitting manuscripts to agents and publishers, and like thousands of hopeful writers all over the world she received more than her share of rejection letters.
"I received nice letters back but saying my books didn't fit their lists,” Maggie said.
"So I decided if I wanted to write about mature woman I'd have to publish myself. It's been a steep learning curve, but I enjoy being in total control of my publications and my deadlines.”
Self-publishing is a challenging journey and fraught with hurdles. Surmounting them can be more difficult than actually writing your book.
"A number of things have helped me in my journey to publication,” Maggie said. "I've discovered the writing community in Australia is an incredibly supportive one. I belong to several associations ... I find it is important to associate with other authors, to share manuscripts and ideas and to have a critique partner, someone who sees the raw draft of each novel and helps with the process. I have a team of people who work with me to publish each book.
"I've been fortunate in having the support of local bookshops and libraries and promote my books with book signings and through Facebook and Twitter. It's thrilling to receive positive reviews and to have strangers tell me how much they enjoy my books and how they make them feel good and inspire them.”
Maggie published her first book, Band of Gold, in 2014 when she was in her late 60s.
"It has never occurred to me that age is a barrier,” she said.
"I believe older women and the events which impact on their lives are often ignored in literature or they are portrayed as stereotypes on the periphery of the main story and often with the characteristics of much older characters. Life for older women presents similar and different challenges to their younger counterparts.
"They still look for a happy ever after (ending), but theirs may include stepchildren, teenage stepchildren and ex-partners with their issues.”
Maggie's books celebrate mature women who have found a reason to live and love in later life. In Band Of Gold, Anna, is devastated when her husband of 25 years places his wedding ring on the kitchen table on Christmas morning and says: "I don't want to be married anymore”.
Broken Threads is the story of Anna's sister, Jan, beginning with Jan's son being killed, following the family's descent into grief and blame.
For more, visit maggiechristensenauthor.com.