Sunday, August 5, 2012

Spotlight: Author Maggie Lyons

Interview with Maggie Lyons

Maggie Lyons was born in Wales and brought up in England before gravitating west to Virginia’s coast. She zigzagged her way through a motley variety of careers from orchestral management to law-firm media relations to academic editing. Writing and editing nonfiction for adults brought plenty of satisfaction but nothing like the magic she discovered in writing fiction and nonfiction for children. Several of her articles, poetry, and a chapter book have been published in the children’s magazines Stories for Children Magazine and knowonder! 

What inspired you to write?
I’ve always loved words. My parents read stories to me when I was small and I became an avid reader. Language has always been a great love of mine, including learning how to read, write, and speak foreign languages, and read, interpret, and play music.

Have you had any training to become a writer?
In terms of formal training, one summer, centuries ago, I attended a short creative writing course at Georgetown University. Informally, all those years of writing business-related nonfiction certainly helped, as have countless pieces of advice from members of my critique group and articles on writing, and reading the works of master writers. 

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If yes, how did you ‘cure’ it?
I suffer from writer’s block whenever I try to write something worth reading. My “cure” is a walk down a country lane, or through a quiet field, or if it’s really bad, I move to another country.

Can you share some writing experiences with us?
One experience rockets to mind even though it happened decades ago, when Paul Hume was music critic at The Washington Post. For several years, I was the program annotator for the National Symphony Orchestra, which has its home in Washington, DC. Program annotators contribute notes on the music that can be found in concert program booklets. It’s that stuff most people in the audience don’t read because they’re too busy trying to find their names in the list of donors. Mr. Hume decided my notes were too frivolous and said so in the newspaper three weeks in a row. Since I prefer to avoid aspersions cast against me in newspapers, or wherever, I began including technical musical analyses in my notes, even though I suspected many, perhaps most, of the few who read the program notes would bypass even a whiff of technical analysis. That dried up the flow of invective from the Post, but more people fell asleep during the concerts.

Like all authors, you have had your fair share of rejection letters. You obviously did not let the letters deter you. How did you keep your determination without getting discouraged?
My characters were screaming their heads off to be released from their files. I couldn’t let them down and I was tired of all the noise in my writing space.

Please describe to us your relationship between you and your editor. What makes an author/editor relationship a success?
My relationship with my editors can be slightly tense at times because I’m a professional editor and therefore quite opinionated about editorial matters. When I manage to get off my high horse about editorial style, I find my editors have some amazingly wise advice about writing style. The two things are not necessarily related. While my nonfiction writing experience helped improve the fluency of my fiction writing, it didn’t do much to hone the stylistic techniques that distinguish the highest levels of that particular art.

How do you see the future of book publishing, both traditional, electronic, and print on demand?
I doubt that electronic publishing will wipe out old-fashioned print books for a very long time, if ever. But the new developments in interactive electronic books for children are truly exciting. I’d certainly love to see my books published in an interactive format some day. 

What advice would you give to a new writer?
Write, read, read, write—everything you can, not just on the art of writing and promoting your work. Study the work of great writers. Join a critique group and online writers’ groups. You can’t have too much input from others.

Thank you Maggie for taking some time to share with us about writing. For those who want to know more about Maggie Lyons you can follower her at

Twitter @maggielyons66

You can find out more about Maggie Lyons’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

Title: Vin and the Dorky Duet
Publisher: Halo Publishing Int. & MuseItUp Publishing (Canadian e-book publisher)

ISBN: 978-1-61244-091-0 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-77127-073-1 (eBook)

Genre of Book: Children’s Chapter Book Adventure

About the Book:
A twelve-year-old boy named Vin, goes on a mission—reluctantly. He doesn’t share the optimism of the knights of old who embarked on impossible missions without a doubt they’d succeed. When magnetic compost heaps, man-eating bubble baths and other disasters erupt, Vin comes close to packing in the whole ridiculous business. He calls it Operation BS, his code name for a mission to introduce his sister to a boy she has a crush on. He doesn’t want to play matchmaker, but Meg’s promise to reward him with a David Beckham autographed soccer jersey is a decisive incentive.

Get a sneak peek of the book at
Available wherever books are sold and online.
To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit  


Maggie Lyons said...

My thanks to Utah's Children's Writers for today's interview. I'd be happy to answer any questions readers may have.

Maggie Lyons

Scott said...

Thank you! I enjoyed the interview.