But isn’t it amazing? Today I’m travelling to the Antipodes to pay a visit to M. Greenhill, the author of the popular paranormal novels Buried and Masked.
With her latest novel, Chameleon in New York, she is challenging herself and making her first incursion into a new genre ‒ chicklit / contemporary romance ‒ and quite successfully, I must say. Her book is awesome! She's awesome too, she has this particular sense of humour I appreciate a looot.
Let’s get to know her a little bit better, then.
First off, the inevitable request: tell us a little about yourself.
Let me see… there’s not really much to tell… I live in New Zealand with my husband, two sons, and pet Schnauzer. I’ve worked as a consultant in the IT industry for more years than I care to remember and have a love/hate relationship with Microsoft. I’ve written on and off for many years but never managed to finish a story until I started to post to Wattpad.
Which writers inspire you?
Charles Dickens, Jane Austin, Lynda LaPlante, John Grisham, Jeffrey Archer, Enid Blyton, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Tom Clancy … I could go on but I won’t, we’ll be here all day.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been?
That’s easy… Pride and Prejudice
Two of your books – Masked and Buried – are shelved as Paranormal. What draws you into this genre?
I have always enjoyed Thrillers, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal stories (in that order). If you’d told me a year ago I would write two stories in the paranormal genre before the others, I would have said you’d taken leave of your senses and to cut down on the drugs!!
The reason I started posting to Wattpad was to try and finish a Thriller/Adventure I had been working on for a number of years. At the time of posting, I began to notice that there was a lot of abuse in the Shifter/Werewolf sub-genre of paranormal – [ don’t get me started on teenage Alpha’s driving around in Lamborghini’s ;-) ]
I was disturbed by the increasing trend in this genre to portray women as victims who willingly allows herself to be mistreated by someone who supposedly 'loves' them. They put up with not only the physical but mental abuse, and then justify it saying things like, 'but he/they loves me', 'he swore it wouldn't happen again'.
In no universe, paranormal or otherwise, is this acceptable. It never has and never will be okay to abuse a loved one – no matter what you read in 50 shades.
I wrote MASKED, and subsequently BURIED to give readers a different choice in story. One in which women are not portrayed as the victims and made to feel inferior, but as equals. A story in which a woman can be strong without losing any of her femininity. Women don't have to be ninja warriors, soldiers or even have the ability to kick butt! We only need one thing – and that is a voice.
End of rant J
Sydney, the female protagonist of Chameleon in New York, is a complex figure, whose current life is shaped by the decisions and actions of her father. What sparked the idea for this story?
LOL If writing a paranormal story was low on my 'what genre am I going to write in list', a ChickLit wasn't even on the radar! Of all the stories, CiNY has been the hardest for me to write.
There was a segment on the news, I can’t remember the exact story, but the reporters were hounding the son of a man who had been convicted of murder.
I was astounded at the way in which the son was treated by the press. The father committed the crime, but the child was being treated like the criminal. The old adage, ‘the sins of the father are visited upon the sons’ sprung to mind.
I did a bit of research, and found that we very often do isolate and hound the children (and partners) of both alleged and convicted criminals. The suicide rates for these people are much higher than the norm and they live their lives in fear of the press and others recognising them. Many change their names and move half a country away to step out of the limelight.
The premise of CiNY was born from this.
It’s been an interesting process and the feedback has often been quite heated with regards to how Sydney is/was treated. It might surprise my readers to know that many of the scenarios depicted in CiNY, are loosely based on real high profile cases.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Finding the time to write is the most difficult. I have a full time job and family that makes demands on my time. I am lucky to have a supportive husband and children who try to keep away from me when I need to get a chapter out.
Have you ever had the dreaded writer's block? If so, how did you overcome that?
Hehehe… all the time.. but that’s mainly because I tend to put a little pressure on myself to get chapters out.
For me, writers block happens when I forget to put myself in my characters shoes. As long as I see the world the way they would, I seem to get through the ‘Oh God! What now?’ situations. *touches the nearest piece of wood*
What is your message for those who would like start writing?
You’re never too old or too young to begin. If you believe you have a story to tell; just do it and don’t let anyone tell you you shouldn't.
Starting to write is the easy part. Writing well is a very different story. I’m still learning the mechanics of writing and astounded at just how much I don’t know.
You also need to read. A lot. Library cards are a wonderful thing … except when you get an overdue fine … which reminds me, I’d better go pay it….
How would describe your Wattpad experience so far?
In a word: Phenomenal.
A year ago I would never have dreamed that I’d have two stories completed and another well on the way to being finished. The support from readers and fellow writers has been the motivation I think had been lacking over the years.
In the past, I would start a story, get 30 to 50 thousand words in and then stop. I’d always be overcome with self-doubt as to whether anyone would enjoy it.
Wattpad has allowed the immediate feedback to give me the confidence to continue, and that perhaps, the stories I’d like to tell aren't that bad after all.
I have been fortunate with the readers who have stumbled onto my stories. They are forever putting a smile on my face with the encouraging feedback and support that, quite frankly, astounds me.
In addition to this, the support from other writers has been the most heart-warming. This is especially true with the LOL35 and Romancers over 35 groups. I’m only sorry I didn't discover them sooner.
Thank you so much, M. Best of luck for all your writing endevours!
MNJ Greenhill's Official Website
You can also find MNJ Greenhill on WATTPAD, FACEBOOK and TWITTER.