Tell us a bit about yourself, Maggie.
Which bit? The can’t-settle-on-a-career bit? The frazzled-parent-needing-a-holiday bit? Or the wish-I-made-shedloads-of-money bit?
Let’s stick with the career bit. When did you first start writing?
I guess I was about five. Maybe six, by the time I mastered the whole handwriting thing.
Er . . . I mean, when did you first start writing novels?
Oh! Sorry. That was when I was more like eight.
Yep. I wrote, edited, illustrated and published a book for my little sister. It’s not really my best work, but I was mighty proud of it at the time.
Right . . . And when did you first start writing fiction for adults?
<grins> Far more recently, which is probably just as well because my books are a bit saucy for an eight-year-old to write.
What made you decide to write novels?
I was on holiday and I’d just read “A Minor Indiscretion” by Carole Matthews. I loved it. Seriously loved it. And I thought – hey, I’d love to write something like that. So I bought an exercise book and started writing around the campfire each night. It didn’t take me long to work out writing wasn’t quite as easy as Carole made it seem. There were a few things I needed to learn. Like how to write, for starters.
But you persevered.
Oh yes. I persevered, all right. I persevered through multiple re-writes, dozens of plot revisions, and quite a few Why-am-I-doing-this? moments. Other people finished their debut novels and wrote their second and third and fourth and still I persevered. Am I bitter? No, I’m not bitter. A little twisted, perhaps, but not bitter. I just learned my craft on my debut novel instead of my first half-dozen novels. It came down to printing costs! And perhaps a nasty perfectionist streak.
I take it you were writing part-time?
Very. Like most new writers, I still had a day job and the rest of my life going on. I was teaching full-time. Then I had a baby. Then I took on a part-time lecturing role. Then I had another baby. You know how it is. To begin with, there were times when writing slid down the list of priorities and even fell right off.
And now? Are you still writing part-time?
Sadly, not at the moment. I’ve taken a break from writing over the past year to re-establish myself in full-time teaching. I’ve been out of teaching so long it’s been like starting over. Something had to give – there’s not enough hours in the day! – and, unfortunately, writing was it.
So do you call yourself a writer or a teacher now?
Both! Ideally, I want to reach a point where I wear both hats equally. (I do like hats!)
One question I have to ask . . . your surname. Is that for real? <laughs>
Oh, and of course you’re the very first person to ask that! <grins> Actually, my family come from Guernsey (one of the Channel Islands between England and France), which has a strong French influence. Le Page (rhymes with “stage”) is a Guernsey surname.
You don’t live there yourself?
No. My father migrated to New Zealand, and that’s where I live, though I’ve also spent time in England and Scotland.
And finally, what do you do in your spare time?
<laughs> Spare time? As in, free time? Time when you can do whatever you please? I should be so lucky! But if I did have any spare time I’d be sitting on a secluded beach somewhere in the Mediterranean, wriggling my toes in the sand and drinking cocktails all day. With a hot masseur on call. Mmm . . .