Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Authorsday- Margot Justes

 Born in Poland, Margot Justes has lived in some of the world's most wonderful places, including Israel, France and South Africa. Currently living in the Midwest, she has taken her love of art and travel and cultivated it into unique settings and stories for her writing.
In 2007, she received a contract for her first novel A Hotel in Paris, published in 2008. Margot has just finished her second novel, A Hotel in Bath and is currently working on a novel set in Venice, Italy. In addition to working on her novels, she recently completed a novella, A Fire Within, short stories in The Heat of the Moment and Missing anthologies and travel articles on Paris, France and Bath, England.
Active within a number of writers' communities, Margot is a member of Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and has served on the board of the Chicago Chapters of both organizations. 

What drew you to the subject of A Hotel in Paris?

I love to travel and I love art-very broad topics-but relevant to my life. I find going to a museum, a gallery, an art fair to be therapeutic. Travel allows me to learn about different cultures, attitudes and life styles. So, I combined art and travel, gave my heroine the talent I wish I’d possessed, and Minola Grey was born. As the song goes, I love Paris. I lived there many years ago and it has always captivated-maybe a better word would be possessed me-the city has everything to offer, from art to romance and everything in between, a perfect place for a romantic suspense story, and because I lived in a hotel for a while, the title was easy, A Hotel in Paris.

It was meant to be a straight mystery, but once the characters met, a spark between Peter Riley and Minola Grey ignited and no matter what I did, the chemistry followed them, and voila, they had their romance and my book became a romantic suspense tale.

What was the best advice someone gave you?

Not to follow the current trend, but write what I love, because by the time the book is finished, there will be a new genre du jour. Today it’s zombies, vampires and shape shifters, tomorrow something entirely new.

What authors do you admire?

I love mysteries and to me the mistress of the genre was Dorothy Sayers, elegant in her style, her prose exquisite and romantic. Yes, romantic. Lord Peter Wimsey is the quintessential romantic hero and the books that include Harriet Vane and Lord Peter were pure romantic magic. I love Anne Perry, Sharan Newman, Conan Doyle, Gyles Brandreth, Elizabeth Peters, Oscar Wilde to name just a few. Since my introduction to the romance and paranormal genres I enjoy Kat Richardson, read Nora Roberts and many of the Regency writers, because I wanted a modern heroine but with a certain innocent perspective in a contemporary setting. I consider Minola Grey a transplanted regency heroine. Christine Feehan created a marvelous Carpathian world with strong alpha males and female characters. I better stop, this could be a book in itself. I love to read.

What place that you haven’t visited would you like to go to?”

Did I mention I love to travel? Egypt and Australia have been on my list for many years, decades in fact. I’m planning a cruise in 2011 with friends that will take me to Italy, Egypt, Turkey, and Israel. Australia is on the horizon for 2013. As I get older, I promised myself a serious trip a year. This year it’s a cruise to the Mexican Riviera and later in the year hopefully either Rio or Istanbul.

What other time period besides your own would you like to experience?

Since my introduction to romance novels, the regency period is intriguing, but only if I’m wealthy, young, beautiful, intelligent and independent; as long as I’m dreaming, I’m going to make it perfect.

Where do you write?

I’m very lucky, I have an office in my home. No phone, no TV, just shelves filled with books, a comfy couch, a desk, my computer and a few pieces of art hanging on the walls. Right next to my computer I have a print of the Royal Crescent I bought when I was in Bath, that drawing is my muse for book two, A Hotel in Bath, which I just finished. I didn’t think I would use the couch as much as I do, but more often than not, I write my dialog long-hand sitting on the couch.

What was the hardest scene to write?

The passionate and sexy scenes. I wanted it to be sensual and significant but I didn't want to drag it out and make it too long. I also needed to include some dialog because I think some verbal communication is very important during intimate moments. For me that was the toughest thing to learn about writing romance. 

What was your favorite scene to write?

The time Minola and Peter spent at the Rodin Museum. When I lived in Paris, I spent a great deal of time there, and to this day it is my favorite.  The museum used to be Rodin's home and once you're inside you feel as if he's never left. His work  is everywhere, the Kiss, the Hand of God, all beautifully situated. The home never lost that feeling of being lived in, that sense of comfort.

Outside, the gardens play host to the Gates of Hell, the Thinker, Balzac, the Burghers of Calais and so many other magnificent pieces. There is even a cafe, where you can sit and enjoy a cup of coffee; a stunning setting and the coffee is fantastic. I also happen to love good coffee.

If you have a day job, what is it?

I work in H/R for a major company and writing is pure therapy. I had the proverbial tough day in the office, came home and wanted a total escape from reality. The quote from A Tale of Two Cities came to mind, ‘it was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ that is how I felt at that precise moment, I took out a pad and started writing. A Hotel in Paris is the first thing I have ever written.

What is your favorite quote?

Oscar Wilde is very quotable; “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not the sitter.” That quote appears in A Hotel in Paris.
As a writer, this is my favorite one; “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again."

Chris, thank you for the opportunity to promote A Hotel in Paris.

Margot Justes


Margot Justes said...

Thank you again for having me and introducing A Hotel in Paris.
Margot Justes

Morgan Mandel said...

Hi Margot and Chris,
I get to comment to two of my favorite buddies at one time!

Great post. Margot, I admire you for following your wanderlust and having the ability to include something you enjoy in your writing.

See you soon.
Morgan Mandel

Debra St. John said...

Hi Margot,

I love how you combine your love of travel and art in your books.

I for one am glad your story turned into a romantic suspense...I do enjoy a fabulous love story.

And great advice to write what's in your heart and not to any current trend.

Pamala Knight said...

What a fabulous interview! Thanks to Chris for hosting Margot and for giving us the insight into the wonderful A HOTEL IN PARIS.

Marilyn Brant said...

Terrific interview, Margot and Chris! I really loved reading about your travel plans, Margot... ;)

B. A. (Barbara) Binns said...

I love books that show me things I don't know, and A Hotel In Paris did that for me. I'm looking forward to more.

Margot Justes said...

I get to comment to my RWA friends. Morgan,
Glad you liked the interview, we write because we love it.
Thank you, I love good romance stories too.
Thank you and I forgot to tell you I love the spelling of your name.
Travel is terrific, wish I could do more.
Nice to hear you learned something, that is always a plus.

Anonymous said...

Margot, I am always so impressed (and a bit envious) of your amazing travels. It's great that you're able to combine them with writing so beautifully!

I, too, adore Dorothy Sayers. I think my FAVORITE one might be Murder Must Advertise, but you're right -- the ones with Peter and Harriet are absolutely magica1!

Margot Justes said...

I love Murder must Advertise, if you get a chance watch the DVD, it is fantastic with the perfect Lord Peter-Ian Carmichael.