Today I’m delighted to welcome Maria Malone to my blog. Maria’s a very successful author who writes not only under her own name but also as a ghostwriter to lots of famous names such as Cheryl Cole and Tony Hadley. I’m really pleased she’s been able to join us to talk about her fascinating life and work.
I’m from Whitley Bay, a seaside town a few miles north of Newcastle, and although I’ve moved around a lot I still consider my roots to be in the North East. The ice rink was on my doorstep when I was growing up and I was mad on skating – spins, axels, ice dancing, the lot! Now, not having an ice rink handy, I do a lot if walking and I’ve ditched the sequins … I still have my ice skates, though.
I’m a passionate reader. Both my parents loved to read and there were always books in the house. In terms of writing, a turning point came after leaving my job at Yorkshire TV to freelance as a producer. I was able to structure my time differently and started to write Weekdays at Nine, a novel set in telly. When it was shortlisted in a Little, Brown/Daily Mail competition to find a new blockbuster novelist it was a huge confidence boost. I can remember feeling crushed when I didn’t win but looking back I’m glad – it wasn’t good enough!
Tell me about your journey as a writer – how you started and how you have developed?
I always wanted to write, was one of those kids who scribbled away. I started as a trainee reporter on regional newspapers in Blyth, Northumberland, and then Bradford before moving into telly. I was in the newsroom at Yorkshire TV to start with. I’ve worked on all kinds of programmes, ranging from a special with Arthur C Clarke in Sri Lanka to a revival of the Channel 4 music show, The Tube.
For a couple of years I lived in Johannesburg where I finished writing Weekdays at Nine (see above!) and developed Wildtrack, a children’s reality show set in the South African bush, for CITV in the UK. I moved back to England via Virginia Beach and joined ITV in London, producing DVD features for drama and entertainment programmes, from Prime Suspect to Popstars and Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. I wrote books to tie in with shows, briefly edited the Hear’say fan club magazine, and was the writer attached to ITV’s Reborn in the USA series in 2003, which proved be the springboard for a fantastic ghostwriting opportunity. In 2004, I left ITV to focus on ghosting.
Ghostwriting means spending a lot of time with the person whose book it is – as much as they need in order to be able to tell their story exactly as they want to. The process varies depending on each person’s availability and involves being flexible and fitting in with whatever other commitments they may have. It may involve going on the road or spending time in a recording studio or rehearsal room – whatever it takes. It is someone else’s book and they have to come first, always.
Do you write fiction too? How would you describe your work in this area – its themes and the important things about it?
I’ve been writing fiction for a long time, have a couple of novels under my belt, and am busy on the first draft of another one at the moment. I write commercial women’s fiction/thrillers. That sounds a bit grand but it’s not since I’ve not been published! I like dark stuff, exploring what people are capable of and how they conceal their true selves; that sense of thinking you know someone and then something happens to make you question everything. I’m a huge fan of writers like Nicci French, Chelsea Cain, Elmore Leonard, Robert B. Parker. Anne Tyler is brilliant too. I recently read A Dark Redemption by Stav Sherez and was blown away. It’s now on the long-list for the 2013 Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award.
Writing is vital to me and it’s the process more than the outcome that really matters. In the past I think I probably put too much emphasis on wanting to be published, seeing it as the be-all and end-all. I don’t feel like that any more. It’s the writing itself that drives me now.
I collaborated with Angie Beasley on her book, The Frog Princess, and it was a joy to do. Basically, it’s an autobiographical story of a girl growing up in poverty in Grimsby destined to work in a local factory who makes her escape via the beauty pageant circuit.
For a shy girl who lacked confidence and was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, becoming a beauty queen was a brave choice and one that flew in the face of Angie’s family and strict upbringing. No matter what life threw at her, she hung onto her determination to succeed. Hers is a heartfelt and inspiring story about having a dream and going for it, no matter how unlikely it may seem – something very many of us can relate to.
Where can I buy a copy of your book?
It’s available in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon here.
You can find Maria:
on her website here.
or follow her on Twitter here