Margaret Whichard (writing as Margaret Norton) – Author Interview

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

This is my first book. The title is When Ties Break: A Memoir About How to Thrive After Loss. The day of my father’s funeral, my brother expelled me from the family as my other family members stood by and did nothing. I had made some bad choices for which I would pay dearly.

Tell us something about yourself.

I’m from North Carolina. I’ve lived in four states and spent much of my life traveling. I have a degree in marketing and have done all types of work. For the last 17 years, I’ve worked in the mortgage business. Five years ago, when the financial markets started crumbling, I knew it was time to explore other options.

What inspired you to write this book?

In 2004, I experienced the death of eight individuals: my brother, my mother-in-law, the mothers of three co-workers, a co-worker, the husband of a co-worker, and the nephew of a co-worker. At the beginning of 2005, I was paralyzed with grief. I started writing to cope with my pain. Initially, I did not plan to write a book. But as time went by, my work took on a life of its own.

When did you know it would become a book?

After several months of writing, I decided to share my work with some friends and co-workers. Their response was positive.

Some of their comments were: “You have an incredible story and you should write a book.” Being very naive at the time and not knowing how hard that would be I thought, “Why not?”

How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I had always enjoyed writing, was often the one who took notes, wrote work plans and manuals, but never thought about writing on a personal level. As I started turning my therapy notes into a book, I discovered that I enjoyed writing. It felt right and natural for me, seemed to fit my personality, and something that would give me personal satisfaction.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

For me, the hardest part of writing was telling and reliving my personal stories. Initially when I started, I wanted to know why my brother did what he did. To find those answers, I went back as far as I could remember: to a childhood of being insecure and different, the daughter of a minister and a mother who spent much time in the state mental hospital, married too young, abused in every way, adultery, divorced, single parent, rebelled, drugs, drinking and dancing, remarried, abused again, step-parenting, bankruptcy, lost everything including my kids, ADHD, drug addiction, homosexuality, divorced again, not abused but forced to make difficult choices, moved away from family, married again, mother hospitalized numerous times, and eight deaths. It was very hard analyzing all my decisions, discovering the connections, realizing the mistakes I had made, and finally understanding that my family was broken.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

I learned so much from writing my book. One of the most important things I learned was how important it is for all of us to take the time to know the stories of those we are closest to. Sometimes, it is difficult for others to talk about their feelings. Often in personal relationships conflict goes on for years because individuals are not willing to do the deep work required to really know each other. We misjudge, label, mistreat, and sometimes excommunicate others from our lives because they don’t do things our way or because we have to be in control. Families in particular lose sight of what’s really important – each other – because of differences they cannot let go of. As I shared my story, I learned there are many others who’ve been mistreated. Most of them said they could never write their own story, but they find hope and inspiration in knowing that I was able to rise above my difficult circumstances.

The issues you mention are serious and heavy. Is the book depressing? Why would someone want to read about the problems of another person?

Individuals who’ve read my book tell me that it is an easy read. It is interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, informative, and ends on a positive note. I’ve been told that readers enjoyed watching me grow from a shy little girl with a speech impairment to a self-confident woman finally in touch with and in control of her own life. Several individuals have said they could not put the book down once they started reading it, that they couldn’t wait to see what I’d get into next.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I enjoy fiction, especially books by North Carolina authors. Nicholas Sparks is my favorite followed by Jan Koran.

Sparks writes about many of the towns I’ve lived in. I think my story could have been written by him, except it’s true.

Koran writes about Father Tim, a priest who married late in life. I can certainly relate to what it’s like living in a parsonage.

Pat Conroy. The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, etc. I grew up on an island in NC and have a very strong connection to the ocean.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Be persistent. Don’t give-up. Keep trying. Learn all you can. Read. Join writing groups. Take classes. Follow your heart.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

I am finding that promoting my book is much harder than writing it. I’ve become like a life insurance salesperson – people now run when they see me coming. I use every opportunity I can to talk about my book. I’m scheduling book signings and book blog interviews. I’m soliciting reviews and sending out free copies. I’m trying to connect with everyone I’ve ever known. I’m utilizing social media sites such as Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, etc. I’m accepting any help the publisher gives me. I’ve created group email lists. I’ve asked my friends for help. I’m paying a publicist to help me. I am looking for ways to generate more income – speaking and coaching. I am updating my web sites to reflect my new status as an author. I do a lot of praying, think positive thoughts, and truly believe my book will be successful. I am putting in a lot of long, hard hours.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

It is available at bookstores and on line at Amazon.com.

You can order from me if you’d like an autographed copy or directly from the publisher.
Here’s the link: http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-61663-265-6