Sunday, August 21, 2016

Guest Post: 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