Meet Maddie Please and get to know more about her writing journey, advice and secrets behind her success as an author of joyous tales of older women. Her latest book, A Vintage Vacation (Boldwood Books) is out May 30 2023!
Perfect for fans of Judy Leigh and Dee Macdonald!
‘Sea, sunshine, romance and fabulous characters; Maddie’s light touch and sense of fun will lift your spirits!’ Bestselling author Judy Leigh
‘Witty, warm and simply wonderful.’ Bestselling author Sarah Bennett
‘For a book that’s as cheering and restorative as a long lunch with your very best friend, Maddie Please is the author you need to know!’ Bestselling author Chris Manby
‘Genuine and life-affirming…a wonderful, light-hearted novel about how it is never too late to find happiness.’ Bestselling author Kitty Wilson
As a true and loyal fan of yours, I’m so pleased to have you here, Maddie! Your lighthearted tales with older protagonists is what we all need to embrace aging with a little laughter.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and about this latest uplifting romantic comedy, The Vintage Vacation.
I live in Herefordshire with two black cats, Buzz and Sharpie. A Vintage Vacation will be my 9th published novel, and my 5th book for Boldwood Books.
All my Boldwood stories have older characters and heroines. They are great fun to write and address some of the problems many older women encounter. Divorce, confidence issues, aging, the gradual feeling of invisibility within society.
What seems to be the inspiration behind all your feel-good and funny stories when it comes to the trials and tribulations for women who are 60+?
The inspiration for my stories is every brave, fabulous, older woman I have ever met. And there are a great many of us. We aren’t prepared to fade into the background of other people’s lives. We still have a lot to offer. Women over 60 can be, courageous, charming; outrageous, alarming. Just like Simon Smith’s Amazing Dancing Bear
Are there any characters that are true to your own life in any of your books?
Absolutely yes. But the names have been changed to protect the guilty.
When did it dawn on you that you wanted to become a novelist?
When I was about 12 years old. I started writing pony stories- and I recently found one. In it I described the owner of a riding stables as “quite elderly – possibly about 30.” I blush with shame.
I always wanted to write but was not given the encouragement every writer needs until quite late in life when my husband Brian gave me his total support. Everything I have achieved is down to his belief in me.
Fans of yours love your novels that focus on older women trying to find friendship, love and happiness. Are/were any of your books based on members of your family or friends?
Yes but no. I hope women of my age have supportive friends and family, they are so important. There are so many negative perceptions of aging which is depressing. Being positive is half the battle. The other half is not caring what other people think. Particularly people who think writing a book is easy. It’s not!
Have you always been so funny and charming in life as you have shown in your writing?
I asked the family this and they laughed. Draw your own conclusions!
Then I asked my best friend, and she said, “Much more, now pass the wine.’
Which novel was the easiest to write? What about the most difficult? And why?
Sisters Behaving Badly was the easiest to write. I loved the dynamic between Kitty and Jenny.
The backstory of Kitty’s chequered relationship history compared with Jenny’s dull but emotionally abusive marriage was a fascinating one to unpick.
The hardest to write was Old Friends Reunited. While writing it, I suffered several, terrible, personal tragedies and I had to struggle through a lot of awful problems. Friends and family were the only thing that kept me going.
Do you feel commercial fiction authors are facing particular challenges these days whether it be tied to politics, world issues, technology, or the environment?
I never seek to force my opinions on anyone. The world is a complicated and sometimes angry place. When I read a book or watch a film, I generally want to feel better at the end than I did at the beginning. I don’t necessarily mean happy, just energised. That’s what I hope to achieve with my writing. And I love making people laugh. There is more than enough gloom out there.
My favorite genre when it comes to TV, series, movies and books is ‘dramedy’. Do you feel your writing fits in with this genre? Why or why not?
Yes I think it does. But as I said earlier, I prefer to focus on the fun, the humor, the ridiculous rather than the more serious issues. Other writers can do that better than I can.
For our readers, What’s ‘Dramedy’ Anyway? Read about it here!
In your latest book, The Vintage Vacation, who would you cast if it became a movie or series?
I think this is something of which every writer dreams. There are so many wonderful, older actresses wanting scripts where they are centre stage instead of just a walk on part. Joanna Lumley and Alison Steadman come to mind for Clover and Zoe in Vintage Vacation.
What line or passage in your new book, The Vintage Vacation, stands out for you the most? Do you have any other passages in your other books that really stand out for you?
“The first glass ceiling in life was being a woman, only broken through with a lot of hard work, persistence, and determination. The second glass ceiling was age and that one seemed bullet proof.” Vintage Vacation.
“There was nothing to distract me. No phone calls or text messages, no interruptions from him or from anyone. I sat up a little straighter in my seat and felt brave and intrepid, which is not something I had felt for years. I could do this. Even at that moment I knew I had achieved something momentous. I didn’t need help or praise or interference. My life was taking a different path, and this was the first step. Now I could just please myself. All the time.” Sunrise with the Silver Surfers.
“It was sad really. The things women did to themselves. All that stuff about Botox and fillers. Tattooed eyebrows and lipliner. Boob jobs and bottom lifts. Liposuction and photoshop and waist trainers. Diets and fads, years of despair. Why did whole generations of women feel like this? Never feeling good enough. Never gaining our own approval. Why?
Older men like Lucian assumed they were still irresistible and appealing. They still attracted young girls like Poppy, skin as clear as a child’s, throwing on crazy, mismatched clothes and still looking great, while older women like me bought overpriced moisturisers and expensive bras and stared in the mirror, doubt in our eyes.” The Old Ducks Club.
In your mind, what makes a good book club pick for discussion? Why might your books be good picks?
I think Book Club reads need a thread or theme for interesting discussion which my stories have. The perceptions of age, women struggling with unsatisfactory relationships, family issues, prejudices. But always that wonderful ability older women have – to support each other and laugh.
How long does it take you from idea to the time you finish your final edit on most of your books? Any secrets behind your process?
A first draft usually takes 6-8 weeks if I am in the groove. That is a wonderful place to get to. In Vintage Vacation, the mother, Eleanor, took on a life of her own, forcing herself to the forefront of the action. She is an absolute hoot. I am so pleased she is on the cover of Vintage Vacation too, having a great time.
Then there is editing, more editing, rewriting, more editing before I send it to my marvellous editor at Boldwood, Emily Ruston.
She then assures me she doesn’t ‘hate the book’ (which is what I always assume) and comes up with some great suggestions to improve or clarify things. Then there is copy editing and proof editing…. So, in answer to your question, the whole process from starting the book to publication is about 6 months.
Secrets behind the process?
I don’t think there are many.
Plot properly before the start. This doesn’t mean the plot is cast in stone, but it provides a structure. It works for me, other people are free to disagree.
Put aside time to work that suits you. I work best in the mornings. Other writers prefer evenings or even nighttime.
Listen to advice from people whose opinion you value and Keep Going.
Besides spending time writing, thinking about holidays, and of course, enjoying some red wine, what else do you love to do?
I love box set binges. I have worked through a lot. NCIS, CSI, a lot of police dramas. Vera, Happy Valley, I couldn’t write anything like them. I would always be tempted to put in a joke or a prat fall. Last Man Standing (Tim Allen is fantastic). I love the Bourne films, the Die Hard franchise, anything involving car chases or courtroom drama.
I love my garden, baking, and spending time with my family.
Who are some of your favorite authors and why?
Daphne du Maurier – such a terrific writer. Bill Bryson for his humor and ability to convey the places he visits.
Any advice you’d like to give to aspiring writers today given the tough competition out there?
Anyone who knows me will know the answer to this. Persistence.
Nothing else matters as much.
I read recently that of all the people who start writing a book, 97% of them fail to finish. So to get a book written takes a great deal of determination, self-belief (which isn’t always easy) and a good support network.
When you are a writer, the goal posts keep changing. First you want an agent, then a book deal, then an editor, then a 2-book deal, then to see the book in shops, then a film deal. It’s a steep learning curve. There is always something to aim for and always something new to learn.
For your loyal book fans, is there anything in the pipeline you can tell us about?
Vintage Vacation is due to be published in May 2023.
I have been asked many times for a sequel to The Old Ducks Club and I am working on that now. It’s great fun to revisit those ladies and actually find out what happened next.
I would love to set a book in America which is a country I love.
Thank you, Maddie! You sure are an inspiration to us all-
You can find Maddie here:
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