Margreit Maitland, author of the young adult action-adventure novels Runaway at Sea and Adventure at Sea, will be doing a book signing at Red Jacket Books on Sunday, August 21 from 1:00-3:00 p.m.
Red Jacket Books is in the heart of Westhampton Beach Village and is beloved among locals and visitors alike. The bookstore always looks to support local authors and they have hosted an impressive roster of book signings since they opened their doors. Signings take place each Sunday in August for the 2022 season.
Margreit’s novels have been described as stories filled with harrowing feats of survival set against a historical backdrop that keep readers turning the page. She spoke more about her books, success as an author, and what she is most looking forward to about her upcoming book signing at Red Jacket.
Congratulations on your book Runaway at Sea. Can you talk about the story behind it and where your inspiration came from to write this book?
MM: About a year before my grandfather passed away, he gave me a very special journal. It told the adventurous story of my great-great-grandfather’s life. He stowed away on a ship in Southeast England, and this began his incredible trek around the world and across America. It fascinated me and finding a way to tell it became a passion.
What would you say is the main message or theme in Runaway at Sea?
MM: There could be many lessons to pull from the series. Robert, my main character (and ancestor) set himself on an accidental adventure that was really quite dangerous, and he is quite lucky to have survived it. When I was writing it and researching that time, I was so struck by the inherent danger that surrounded Robert at almost all times. He lived such a harrowing existence for many years. Beyond that, there is a lesson in perseverance, keeping your wits about you under pressure, bravery, and also how best to deal with your problems, or how not to deal with them.
How would you describe your writing style?
MM: One of the most valuable things I learned as I trained myself to write this incredible story was to bring imagery to the page so my readers can feel the joy, pain, exhilaration, and heartbreak or any emotion that is happening. I also learned to use dialog so that readers can get to know the characters. I found both to be instrumental to telling this story with honor.
When did you know that you wanted to be an author? And what drew you to this genre?
MM: I was an avid reader all my life and always wanted to write something. It just took a long time for me to find a unique story to write. As I was researching the time period and specifics as to Robert’s life, I really felt that this was a story young readers could connect with and so that is why I chose to write for middle-grade. Also, it is a genre close to my heart because I did a lot of reading with my kids as they were growing up and really enjoyed many of those series so much.
How has your writing style evolved over time? Has your writing changed as your experiences and the world around you have changed?
MM: I have definitely grown as a writer over the years. One of the things that helped me do this has been my critique group which always holds me to a high standard. When I first started I was terrified of dialog especially because it is in the historical fiction genre but I learned that dialog is essential to moving the plot forward and for developing characters. Now if I only have exposition on the page I go back and see if I can have characters interact with each other rather than having long paragraphs of explanation.
What is your process? Do you have a set writing schedule each day?
MM: For my first novel I used the journal as my outline, but for the second novel I listed what I wanted to happen in each chapter on index cards and this helped keep me focused and moving forward. It was satisfying to be able to take an index card and put it in my “done” pile.
How do you define success as a writer?
MM: I would say success is when my readers tell me they couldn’t stop turning pages and can’t wait to hear what happens next.
Are there any authors or other creatives who have influenced you in a significant way?
MM: I would say that my critique group and my family influenced me the most and kept me on my toes. There is nothing more valuable than honest and constructive feedback, it kept me striving to be better and made me a better writer.
Does being located on Long Island influence your writing in any way?
MM: I’m not sure other than to say I was born and raised here, and this is where my family and friends are and so this is where I have always found support and growth. I do love Long Island and can’t imagine living anywhere else.
What do you think is the hardest thing about writing?
MM: The hardest part is to continue a project when your confidence is stumbling, just as would be the case in any profession. Additionally, I would say that writers block is extremely frustrating. There were many days that I spent “writing” that was really just me staring at a blank page, typing a few sentences, deleting them, and then staring at a blank page.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
MM: I do. Keep going and don’t give up. On the worst days, if you wrote one letter, you are okay. Also, I did develop a creative writing bootcamp that encompasses everything I learned. So, whether it is my bootcamp or another resource, seek out ways to learn and challenge yourself and grow.
What are you most looking forward to about the signing at Red Jacket Books?
MM: Actually, I just love book signings and I am so happy that we can have them again and I am looking forward to meeting readers in person.
What’s your favorite thing about the East End of Long Island?
MM: Hands down, beaches and wineries.
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
MM: No matter what the dream, don’t give up on it.