Sunday, August 21, 2016

Award winning author Maggie de Vries on being a multi-genre author

On June 17th, I attended a writing workshop given by Maggie de Vries. It was an information rich day. I came home with sharpened skills and renewed excitement for my writing. Incidentally, around the same time, I was preparing to write a blog article on being a multi-genre author. As I am new to publishing, I thought it wise to seek input from an established author. Maggie kindly agreed to answer my questions.

Leanne:  Do you think branding is an issue (problem) for multi-genre authors? Why or why not?

Maggie:  I expect that it can be an issue, but I don't worry about it myself. I write what feels most important at each stage of my life, and together what I've written makes up my body of work. I appreciate the learning opportunities each form and genre provides and the different kinds of engagement with readers of all ages. I also appreciate the fact that I have not become stuck in a particular rut. Readers may find connections among my books, but they do not expect me to keep writing a particular kind of fiction.

Leanne:  What do you say when people ask what genre you write?

Maggie:  I give a list. I say that I write mostly for children and teens and that I've written an adult memoir. Then I wait to see what seems most relevant to them and focus on that.

Leanne:  Do you think your writing has suffered due to lack of focus? Why or why not?

Maggie:  I think my writing has been strengthened by variety. I wouldn’t say I have a lack of focus. I am focussed on each project as I work on it. I believe that each kind of writing teaches me things that benefit all my writing. 

Leanne:  Romance, mystery and children's literature authors are able to support each other through associations, etc. Please provide tips or advice on how a multi-genre author can access this type of support.

Maggie:  A multi-genre author can join all the associations he or she wishes. I belong to several associations for children’s writers and I belong to the Writers’ Union. So far, I have not felt the need
to join any other associations, but if I wrote another historical novel, I might seek out an association for writers of historical fiction. 

Leanne:  Please supply additional information regarding being a multi-genre author

Maggie:  I find great richness in writing in a variety of forms for a variety of audiences. I encourage all writers to write what they want to write most at any given time. There is more satisfaction, joy and potential success in that strategy, I think, than there is in any attempts to write to the market, or to find a niche and stay firmly stuck in that spot. 

Leanne:  Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog, Maggie. I found your answers encouraging and helpful. Wishing you continued success with your writing.

Bio: Maggie de Vries is the author of eleven books including the Governor General Literary Award nominated Missing Sarah: A Memoir of Loss and teen novel, Rabbit Ears, winner of the 2015 Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize. She is also the writer of A Voice for Change by Rinelle and Julie Harper, coming soon from HarperCollins. She has a picture book coming out with Orca in 2017 called Swimming with Seals. In November 2014, Maggie gave a TEDxSFU talk entitled The Red Umbrella: Sex Work, Stigma and the Law. In March 2016, she was part of a collaborative production called Hooker Monologues at the Firehall Arts Centre. Maggie was children’s book editor at Orca Book Publishers for seven years, and was a substitute teacher in Surrey for five. She currently lives in Vancouver and teaches writing for children and young adults in UBC’s Creative Writing Program. For more information see


Darlene said...

Excellent interview. I love Maggie de Vries as an author and as a person. My two favourite books of hers are Hunger Journeys and Fraser Bear. I think it is wonderful when authors can write in a number of genres.

Leanne Dyck said...

When Maggie de Vries was on Mayne Island, we not only benefited from her reading of our writing but she also gave an author reading. She is a very generous and gifted author.

Laurie Buchanan said...

Great — INFORMATIVE — post! I especially resonated with this observation from Maggie de Vries: "I believe that each kind of writing teaches me things that benefit all my writing."

Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you for your comment, Laurie.
And if you think this interview is informative you need to attend one of Maggie de Vries' workshops.