June 2013


An accountant by day, Margaret Scott fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a published author when her first book Between You and Me was published earlier this year. She lives in Kildare, Ireland, with her family. (Interview by Shirley Benton-Bailey)

Return to interview list

  1. 1. Tell us about your debut novel.

    My first book, Between You and Me, is the story of Holly Green, an auditor with a New York firm of accountants who ends up as a temporary nanny for Mark Fielding, a rural vet. The fact that she knows nothing about children, coupled with living with the aloof and hostile Mark, means Holly can’t wait to get back to New York. But when the time comes, will she still be as sure?

  2. 2. How long did it take you to write the book?

    I always answer this question by saying it took probably over two years to write the first half of this book and just two months to write the second half. And it’s true. I was working full time with two small children and really never expected it to come to anything, it was just a story I wanted to write. In those early years there were probably months where I wrote nothing at all. However when someone expressed an interest, I gave myself a deadline and went full tilt!

  3. 3. What was your path to publication?

    Midway through writing Between you and Me, I got an opportunity to show the first three chapters to an agent, which I did, expecting the process to take at least three months. To my horror (and delight, it must be said) they immediately requested to see the remainder of the book, which of course wasn’t written yet. So off I went, locked myself away and finished it. Unfortunately (and probably due to giving a hastily written first draft) it wasn’t to be and I found myself with my first rejection. I then approached Vanessa O’Loughlin of and she helped me prepare a proper first draft, and then introduced me to Ger Nichol of the Book Bureau. Ger and I clicked instantly and I was over the moon when she became my agent. We then worked together for a month or more on the manuscript before sending it out to publishers. Fast forward four months later and Poolbeg Press had expressed an interest - the rest is history!

  4. 4. Do you plan your books meticulously, or just start with an idea and see where it takes you?

    It’s funny, I always say that I don’t plan my books but to the right of my keyboard is a mass of pages with lopsided spider diagrams and timelines, so I’m going to qualify that remark with “kind of”. I’m very conscious of the time limits I have for writing this second book and am trying to avoid all the mistakes I made with earlier drafts of Between You and Me. Definitely characters come to me before plot, but to sustain 110,000 words, an element of plot is obviously required. I don’t plan chapter by chapter though, I always liken my way of writing to driving in a fog - I can see about three chapters ahead at all times, and just have to trust that when I get to the end of that third chapter the next three will make themselves apparent.

  5. 5. How do you feel about the chick lit label?

    My books are fiction, written for women about women which seems to mean that they’re “chicklit” and I’m absolutely fine with that. I’m quite sure when Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind, or Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice, it was just called “fiction” but I am honestly so proud that people are reading my book and enjoying it that frankly my dear, they can call it what they like!

  6. 6. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing ?

    I wish I’d written a bit more in those early years as I don’t think I realized that when you type “the end” for the first time, there’s still a long, long way to go. Between writing second drafts (and third and fourth) and then waiting months for responses from publishers etc, really writing the book is the easiest part (and probably the last time you’ll have any kind of control over the process!)

  7. 7. What's the best and worst thing about being an author?

    Being an author has been a dream come true. The feedback I’ve gotten for Between you and Me has been beyond my wildest dreams, and definitely the best day was seeing my name in the Irish Times on the Best Sellers List at number five. The worst thing is the pressure surrounding the second book. I’d heard of “difficult second album syndrome” and now know it really exists. I should say it’s definitely all self-imposed pressure arising mostly from the fact that I really don’t want to disappoint with my second offering. The main problem is that this book I’m working on now is a sequel to Between You and Me and I’ve had emails and messages from so many people as to what they’d like to see Holly do next - a problem I didn’t have with book one.

  8. 8. Have you ever based any of your characters on real friends/family?

    No - there has been comparisons drawn between myself and Holly in that we’re both accountants but I’m afraid that’s where the similarities end. Of course there are elements of people I’ve met throughout my life in some characters but I think the safest answer here is definitely “no”.

  9. 9. Is there any contemporary women’s fiction book you wish you’d written yourself?

    I was a huge fan of the Shopaholic Series written by Sophie Kinsella, they were clever and funny and entertaining. And then Rachel’s Holiday by the great Marian Keyes is still in my eyes one of the best contemporary women’s fiction books ever written. Her ability to combine humour with an element of darkness is simply second to none.

  10. 10. If you could co-write a book with any author, who would it be?

    Considering I find it hard to let anyone bring a starter on Christmas Day I’m not so sure relinquishing control over half a book would really suit me! I’d love to write a play though and would welcome any help on that if anyone has a spare year.

  11. 11. If you ever experience writer's block or if the creative muse is hard to find, what do you do to resolve the situation?

    I think I get writer’s block every day in that the first sentence of the day is always the hardest to write. I do try to have my “thinking” done before I sit down to the computer but until I watched Mad Men for the first time I didn’t realise that sitting staring into space is actually a common form of “working” so I don’t beat myself up if it takes a while to get going anymore. If I get really stuck I take the dogs for a walk or head out in the car with some music on. Sometimes even walking from the desk to the kettle is enough - one of the reasons why I drink way too much tea.

  12. 12. What advice would you give aspiring authors?

    My advice would be two-fold. One is to write, write, write until it’s done. There is nothing else that can be achieved until that manuscript is finished - at least for the first time. My other advice would be to be prepared to market yourself. Unless people hear about your book, they won’t know to buy it and whilst writing that first draft is hard, this second element is even harder. It sounds commercial and crass and everything that an “artist” shouldn’t be sullying themselves with, but the crux of the matter is that you want your book to be read, otherwise all that hard work will have been for nothing. And Between You and Me that would be an awful waste!

Back to top