It’s a new day in a new year…welcome, 2022, and welcome, as well, to Maggie Blackbird, who writes romance novels set among Canada’s indigenous people. About herself, Maggie is an Ojibway from Northwestern Ontario. She resides in the country with her husband and their fur babies, two beautiful Alaskan Malamutes, one of whom is pictured below.  “When I’m not writing,” Maggie says,  “I can be found pulling weeds in the flower beds, mowing the huge lawn, walking the Mals deep in the bush, teeing up a ball at the golf course, fishing in the boat for walleye, or sitting on the deck at my sister’s house, making more wonderful memories with the people I love most.” Maggie” series is titled When We Were Young. I’m delighted to have her join me in the author’s corner.

Janet Irvin: Hi, Maggie. I guess I’ll start at the beginning of all things writerly. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Maggie Blackbird: Y’know, writing is something I’ve always done, so it wasn’t a matter of when I wanted to become a writer, but just following what happened for me naturally—and that’s writing and telling stories.  LOL.

JEI: Perhaps many of us followed the same path, and some were lucky to have support along the way. Who would you count as your mentors or the greatest influences on your writing?

M.B.: I had a really great mentor when I first decided to pursue publication.  She was a wonderful lady who was teaching an online writing course.  I was stumped with a piece I was working on, so I emailed her, and from there she was my go-to person.  She helped me a lot.  I don’t know what I would’ve done without her during those earlier times.

JEI: When we begin, we have an entire spectrum of forms to pick from. Did you make a conscious decision to write romance over, say, historical fiction, or did the genre find you?

M.B.: The genre came naturally to me because I am a huge romance reader.  Fan first, author second.  I love reading romance, and I love exploring relationships between two people.

JEI: And readers enjoy reading about those developing relationships. As you work on a story, what aspect of writing gives you the most trouble? Which is the easiest to do?

M.B.: Proofing.  My eyes go cross-eyed trying to look through the proofs my proofer send me.  I really hate that part of writing.  Easiest?  The draft.  I call it making muck.  It’s fun to make muck…and then come the edits LOL.

JEI: As an indigenous writer and a member of the Ojibway, what unique perspective do you bring to your novels? Do you see your writing as a way to inform and educate readers at the same time as you entertain them with stories?

M.B.: Yes, I do.  I don’t want to get too info-heavy or sound like I’m lecturing LOL.  Some of my novels are heavy on Indigenous issues, and some barely have any.  Some are heavy on culture, and some aren’t.  It’s a way of saying, we are simply people who fall in love just like everyone else on the planet.

JEI: You indicate on your website that you blog every day. Wow! That blows me away. How do you structure your days between the creative side of writing and the social and marketing networking required?

M.B.: Well, this morning I am working on answering your questions.  Every morning before I walk the dogs, I tackle promo stuff.  I don’t actually start writing until the late morning or early afternoon.  I keep a tight schedule and it works for me.

JEI: So, you have a series and also stand-alone works. How far out do you organize your projects?

M.B.: Y’know, my projects are always organized ahead of time, maybe even a year.  Like right now I know what I have to write for next year, and I’ve already started working on those projects. As I said, I’m a scheduler at heart.  It’s what I do best.  I wouldn’t get anywhere without being organized.  And right now I’m almost finished fast-drafting one novel, then I have to finish the other, and then there is the third novel. So yeah, 2022 is already eaten up.

JEI: That’s a whole lot of pre-planning, something I like to do as well.  If you had to narrow it down to one aspect, what’s your favorite part of the whole writing thing? 🙂

M.B.: Fast drafting.  As I said, it’s making muck.  While making that muck, it helps me get to know my characters better, so by the time I begin my first round of self-edits, I have a great handle on the story.

JEI: I believe you have a new book out. Can you share details with us?

M.B.: The book was released on October 29, 2021.  It is called Born for This, book one in my new Maizemerized series.  An author friend challenged a couple of other authors and me to write a story about a corn maze and a scarecrow.  Since corn is Mandaamin in Ojibway, and Mandaamin is the corn spirit, I was able to use this element to plot a time-travel romance where a young lady obsessed with the past is able to travel time to visit her ancestors, when she meets the handsome brave Thunder Bear, who insists they are destined for each other.

JEI: During our interview, Maggie included the following about her latest novel, which I thought readers would find informative:

Born for This (Maizemerized, book one)

She’s always been obsessed with her ancestors, and now he’s offering her a chance to live with them…forever.

Second-year university student Edie Whitecrow gobbles up each course on Indigenous studies.  If only she could experience the lives of her Anishinaabe ancestors instead of reading about them.  On her way to a Halloween party decked out as a historical Ojibway maiden, she spies a corn maze in a spot known to be barren.

A scarecrow figure beckons Edie to enter with the enticing offer of making her biggest wish come true.  She jumps at the chance and finds herself in the past, face to face with the man who haunts her dreams—the handsome brave Thunder Bear.  He claims he’s spent twelve years waiting for Gitche Manidoo to send her to him.

Life in the eighteenth century isn’t what Edie romanticized about, though.  When her conscience is tested, she must choose between the modern-day or the world of her descendants—where the man she was created for resides.

JEI: I know I want to read this one! And, as usual, I always like to ask my authors a few fun fact questions, so here goes.  Maggie, you have two Malamutes. Can you tell us how they came to be in your life? Backstory, please!

M.B.: We’ve always had Malamutes, starting back in ’98.  My husband’s grandfather also had Malamutes, so when my dog passed away, the husband (bf at the time) asked if we could get a Malamute.  I didn’t know anything about the breed.  Heck, I never ever heard of them LOL.  So it was exciting when we got our first one.  She has since passed away, but she was a great doggie to introduce us to the breed because she is known as an anomaly.  She was everything a Malamute isn’t:  patient, gentle, great listener, easy to train, easy-going, and very sweet.  Then we met the REAL Malamutes:  stubborn, independent, hard to train, bossy, and they love to run away if you don’t keep a tight hold on them.

JEI: Do you have a favorite holiday?

M.B.: I enjoy Easter the most.  Spring is on its way.  The family gathers at my older sister’s house.  We all bring a dish.  If it’s nice enough, we can eat outside.  There is something about Easter that makes it so enjoyable.

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