Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Q&A with Maggie Bolitho, author of Outback Promise

What do you write?

I write everything from a daily journal to short stories, letters to the editor (rarely sent), poetry, and novels. I like trying different things. My latest novel, Outback Promise, is contemporary fiction that examines a relationship shaken by tragedy.

What do you read?

I’m omnivorous as a writer and a reader. I like to read books that capture my imagination.
What I’m reading seeps into my writing so I look for books that will improve my process in leading by example. I’ll read anything that is well written with strong characters and a good pace.

How do you approach starting a new book?

The only consistent element is a brand new folder on my laptop named with the working title. This will quickly be filled with many drafts and other folders (such as research, continuity schedules, images etc.) I also keep a physical notebook for each novel. I collect pictures of characters or events that might inform my story and stick them in there. A physical notebook is also handy for when the computer is shut down.

What is your writing process?

First I try to check and update my social media accounts without losing a couple of hours.

Next I carve out time for exercises like free writing, copy typing and reading books on the craft of writing.

Some days the narrative pulls me straight to the keyboard and all those good intentions go out the window.

In 2015 I returned to Australia for five months. That forced me to do my editing for HarperCollins while travelling. My working process changed every day as we moved from place to place. In the end I sent Outback Promise in its final form back to Harper Collins from Perth in Western Australia. I had started work on the edits on Kangaroo Island, a month and 3,000 kilometers earlier.

What are your non-writing hobbies, or what do you do to relax?

I relax with a good book or two. I carry a small library on my phone so I’m never without something to read. I love hiking and long walks, particularly because I like to be close to nature.

I’m the volunteer treasurer of the Lynn Valley Literary Society (North Vancouver) which involves a fair bit of behind the scenes administrative work. That’s not relaxing but it feels like an important thing to do because the LVLS hosts the Young Writers’ Club. The YWC offers workshops for youths from aged 11 to 18 who are interested in writing.

If you could have a superpower what would it be? Why?

The ability to thrall the masses. I’d persuade people to celebrate literacy, kindness, and recycling.

Tell us something that isn’t commonly known about you.

I’m a keen animal lover, beyond just kittens, puppies, and baby goats. For ten years while I lived in Sydney Australia, I was sponsored the fruit bats at the Taronga Zoo. Spiders don’t worry me much, although I prefer that they stay outdoors.

I’m even fond of reptiles as you can see by this author picture where a lovely olive python is draped around my neck.

Outback Promise by Maggie Bolitho
HarperCollins Australia

Tragedy. Betrayal. Hope.

After losing their only child, Roslyn and Grady Balfour's lives are destroyed, shattering their perfect marriage. When Ros discovers Grady's infidelity, it sets their love on a destructive downward spiral. Grady hopes that three months together camping will rekindle what was lost so long ago. 

Attempting to repair their broken marriage, Ros and Grady set out on a journey of self-discovery and redemption deep into the Australian outback. Packing resentment and bitterness along with them on their quest, the couple struggles with what they've lost. Forced to battle the challenges of the other travelers along with the dangers of the harsh outback, their only chance for survival lies in facing the secrets of the past. Will Ros and Grady find a way to hold onto each other when everything else has fallen apart?

Excerpt - Read the opening lines here.

About Maggie Bolitho

A free range child, Maggie Bolitho grew up on an island in Canada’s Pacific Northwest. She spent her formative years constructing alternative universes, flying under the radar, and wishing for 20/20 vision.

She set out to see the world shortly after her 17th birthday. Eventually she met and fell in love with a wild colonial boy. After five years of futile resistance, she moved to Melbourne, Australia and married him. In 2007, Maggie and her husband made Canada their permanent home. They now live in a leafy suburb on the island where Maggie grew up. Most of the time they are perfectly happy there, although sometimes they long for the sunburnt country.
While living Down Under, she started writing fiction. Some of her adult short stories appear in different anthologies in the US, Canada, and Australia. She has had poetry published in Quills Canadian Poetry magazine. 

Maggie has studied with award-winning Canadian authors Pearl Luke, Kathy Page, Fran Bourassa and Robin Stevenson. From 2012 to 2014, she led the North Vancouver Young Writers’ Club.

Her debut novel Lockdown (YA) was published in 2014 by Great Plains Teen Fiction (Winnipeg, Canada). Her contemporary novel Outback Promise was published by HarperCollins Australia in 2015.

Thank you to Maggie for this lovely and informative Q&A. Outback Promise looks great and I wish you a lot of luck with it. 


  1. Thanks you for hosting me today, Rachel.

  2. Enjoyed reading about your volunteer 'writing' work, Maggie. Having spent only 3 nights in the outback, I would love to find out how Ros and Grady get along! Thanks for posting, Rachel. :-)


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