Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Extraordinary Writer Margaret Fieland!

Today we’ll be taking a look at a significant and quite inspirational author, Margaret Fieland.

Born and raised in New York City, Margaret Fieland has been around art and music all her life. Daughter of a painter, she is the mother of three grown sons and an accomplished flute and piccolo player. She is an avid science fiction fan, and selected Robert A. Heinlein's “Farmer in the Sky” for her tenth birthday, now long past. She lives in the suburbs west of Boston, MA with her partner and seven dogs. Her poems, articles and stories have appeared in journals and anthologies such as Main Channel Voices, Echolocation, and Twisted Tongue. In spite of making her living as a computer software engineer, she turned to one of her sons to format the initial version of her website, a clear illustration of the computer generation gap. You may visit her website – .

She is a very special person, as you can well see. I think that everyone has something to envy about Margaret. She is new to writing stories, but no stranger to poetry, as she has some of the best collections of poetry that I have seen, I’ll show you a piece of it this coming Monday so be sure to stop back in then to take a look. For now, I have some Q & A’s for you to learn even more about what fuels Margaret’s fire.

Heather: You have been writing more of a variety of things lately, I hear, tell us about what you write:

Margaret: I'm a professional Computer Software engineer – BA in mathematics, MS in computer science, but I've written poetry as far back as I can remember, though not with publication in mind and not with any level of dedication.

Heather: Very impressive. What really got you interested in writing for publication?

Margaret: What really propelled me into writing for publication was organizing my poetry. I used to keep the poems, when I kept them, in notebooks. They were totally unorganized, and I could never find anything. Then I wrote a poem I wanted to keep, so I got off the stick and put them up, first on my computer, and after that online, originally in Yahoo briefcase, and later in Google Documents.

Heather: I’ve done that a few times myself, if I have a poem somewhere that I can find it makes it easier to say “hey why don’t I put it in this contest, or that contest” I can definitely relate to you there. Why was the organization such a key factor in moving your writing forward?

Margaret: Once I had the poems organized and findable, I could finally submit, and I could look them over and gain perspective on how I was doing. What ended up happening was that I submitted a poem to a contest on a whim and ended up a finalist. This was so encouraging that I started writing more; working more seriously on growing as a writer, joined critique groups, etc.

Heather: Ah, I see. How long is that you have been writing?

Margaret: I've been writing poetry since my teens, but only with publication in mind for the past three or four years. As a story writer I'm pretty much of a novice, as I only started writing stories after I hooked up with Linda Barnett Johnson after the first Muse online writer's conference three years ago and joined her writing forums. I'm 62 now, so that's a lot of years of writing.

Heather: That definitely is a lot of years of writing, a lot of experience behind your belt. What is it that made you want to start writing?

Margaret: Good question – I started and became addicted. I really love writing -- and I just plain enjoy writing poetry, rhymed and unrhymed. I've developed my own algorithm for generating rhymes, which means that I often don't have to use a rhyming dictionary at all. Besides, if I don't write it down it stays stuck in my head.

Heather: Writing is addicting, I’m afraid I came down with the same syndrome as well, one time I went about 6 months without writing anything at all, and I tell you, I went absolutely insane, I HAD to write. I’ve heard a lot of authors say that their parents were supportive of their writing when they were young, while others needed to sneak and hide, what was the case with you?

Margaret: When I was young I was studying music, not writing – I play the flute and the piccolo. My mother was an artist and while she was supportive of my music, her advice was “Always be able to support yourself,” so for that and other reasons I didn't become a professional musician.

Heather: I see. That is a good reason, I mean, there is a reason why there are “starving artists” *laughs* though I’m sure you would have been successful in whatever you did. Proofreading is completely necessary, as is critiquing. Who proofreads and critiques your work?

Margaret: I belong to a couple of (online) critique groups and I also exchange manuscripts with other writers.

Heather: There are a couple of critique groups that I trust online, as well as author writers. They are quite helpful. Where is it that you write at? Any particular place or just anywhere?

Margaret: Wherever I happen to be. I have pads and pens everywhere. I even write in the car. At home, my two favorite spots are the dining room table and my bed.

I understand, I have pads and pens coming out the yin-yang too. Do you have a set time when you write, or just whenever you get the urge?

Margaret: Since I have a full time job, whenever the spirit moves me, and I have (or can make) the time. The nice thing about poetry is that a lot of it is short and taking a couple of minutes to jot down poetry is pretty easy to do. Waiting for appointments is a favorite time to write. I've had good luck being "inspired" by those articles you find in waiting rooms.

Heather: I find myself writing in the weirdest places sometimes, definitely at appointments though. When you need to check facts do you turn to the internet or the library?

Margaret: Are you kidding? The internet. I'm an online kind of gal. My favorite resource is, which has an online dictionary and thesaurus. I make heavy use of the thesaurus when writing poetry, even rhymed poetry. Though I do occasionally resort to a rhyming dictionary, I usually generate the rhymes myself.

Heather: I’ve never been to the library to check facts myself; I’m internet all the way. I love , is one of my favorites too, good for poets. When you're not writing, what do you like to do?

Margaret: Read, listen to music, play my flute and my piccolo, walk our dogs, do crossword puzzles.

Heather: What about writer’s block, ever had a problem with it?

Margaret: Not so far, thank goodness {pauses to knock wood}.

Heather: Neither have I in my short little writing years. Everyone seems to have a favorite author who is yours and why?

Margaret: My favorite author for a long time was Robert Heinlein. I am a 'way back sci fi fan. I picked out his “Farmer in the Sky” as my tenth birthday present.

Heather: I understand that you just began to write stories, how do you invent your characters?

Margaret: They just sort of come to me -- and often they surprise me. Jane, the little girl who's Alvin, the main character in my book's, friend, was one of those. I thought she was going to be a real stuck-up goody-goody and, well, she wasn't anything like that. I had this image of her (I get very visual images of my characters) standing with her hands on her hips and lecturing me, "You've got me all wrong."

Heather: I’ve had that happen with a lot of my characters, I get this idea of what I think they should be like, and they’re nothing like that at all, they really shape themselves. I know a few authors who keep records (almost like police records) of height, weight, background, etc. of their characters, do you keep tabs on your characters, and if so, what do you usually make note of?

Margaret: {grin} I'm much too disorganized to keep background notes -- in fact, so far I haven't even done much outlining. What happens is that the bones story takes shape in my head and then I just start writing. I get visual images of my characters -- but no, I don't keep notes. For "The Angry Little Boy," I do have a lot of back-story that isn't in the book itself. Some of it was in the first version of the story, some just evolved as I continued writing and revising.

Heather: I got so many characters in this one book series that I’m writing that I had to start keeping tabs on those characters, other than that I don’t really keep background notes either. Some authors say that they feel as though his or her characters are real, do you feel this way, and what do you think about this?

Margaret: When I was younger I had this sense that I was creating the world of the characters as I read -- that my reading was literally bringing my characters into existence, and that when I stopped reading, they were stuck at the point I stopped. It made for some pretty late nights. Now, as an author, I have this sense even more strongly -- that my writing about them has given them life. However, I kind of get the feeling that they are continuing on and that I might need to catch up with them at some future date to see how they're doing.

Heather: If you think about it, that was a really awesome way that you thought about things, that your reading actually brought them to life. While I was reading stories I used to kind of create my own character in the story, if you know what I mean, so that I was my own character. Out of all of the books that you have read, who is your favorite character?

Margaret: Good question. Two of my all-time favorite childhood books are "Alice in Wonderland" (favorite character Alice) and "Peter Pan" (favorite character Peter Pan). I haven't read anything as an adult that's nearly as compelling, though I am fond of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series. I especially like both Camilla and Magdalen Lorne.

Heather: “Alice in Wonderland” is definitely a classic, love that one. Thank you for giving me the chance to interview you, Margaret, it certainly was a pleasure.

Come and visit again this Monday for a more in depth look at Margaret’s writings. Including a poem of hers, and the first chapter of “The Angry Little Boy”. Can’t wait to see you there!


Vivian Zabel said...

Always glad to read more about Peggy.

Nancy Famolari said...

Very interesting post. I am completely in awe of writers like Margaret who write poetry so easily.

Donna M. McDine said...

Peggy's talents never cease to amaze me. Terrific interview!

Children’s Author
Write What Inspires You Blog
Donna M. McDine’s Website

Margaret Fieland said...

Heather, thanks for hosting me, and thanks for asking all those neat questions. It was fun.

Margaret Fieland

kathy stemke said...

Very thoughtful interview, Heather.

Great to learn more about Peggy.

Heather said...

Thanks for stopping by, Kathy, Margaret, Donna, Nancy, and Vivian!

Kathy - Thanks! Glad to hear the interview was good!

Margaret - You're most welcome Margaret, it was definitely a pleasure hosting you, and I, myself, was quite curious to see what your answers would be. ;-)

Donna - Thanks!

Nancy - Isn't it just great? Poets rock!

Thanks again to all of you for stopping by!

Heather Paye

Liana said...

Great post and great writer! Thanks for sharing!

Crystalee said...

Great interview with Margaret, Heather! You are a gracious and fun host. :-)

Heather said...

Liana and Crystalee, thank you so much for stopping by and reading the post!

Liana - I'm glad that you enjoyed the post!

Crystalee - Thanks! I'm glad to hear that I did well. :D

Heather Paye

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Thanks to you two talented women. A really nice interview!

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