Maggie James: Nomadic Novelist in the Making
February 6, 2014 | Interviews
Each person’s unique vision of Nomadtopia is a reminder that there is no one way to create your ideal life, no right or wrong approach. Many people just like you—or in even more complicated circumstances—have made it happen, or are working to get there. Hearing others’ stories keeps us all inspired, and reminds us to dream big!
Maggie James is a British author who lives in Bristol. She writes psychological suspense novels. She is fascinated by the workings of the human mind and her novels explore strong emotions, often caused by criminal acts.
The first draft of her first novel, entitled His Kidnapper’s Shoes, was written while traveling in Bolivia. She was inspired by an impending milestone birthday, along with a healthy dose of annoyance at having procrastinated for so long in writing a novel. His Kidnapper’s Shoes was published in both paperback and e-book format in 2013, followed by her second novel, entitled Sister, Psychopath. Her third novel, Guilty Innocence, has now been published, and like the first two, features her home city of Bristol. She is currently working on her fourth novel. You can find all her books here.
Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a short diversion into practicing as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off traveling is always lurking in the background. When not writing, going to the gym, practicing yoga, or traveling, she can be found walking dogs and fostering homeless cats; animals are a lifelong love.
Tell us a little bit about your current life/lifestyle.
I’m a novelist. Right now, I’m working on my fourth title, with the aim of being location independent by the end of 2014. Once my income from my self-published book sales reaches a certain level, then I’ll be able to take off. I do part-time dog walking to supplement my writing income, hence why I’m not already a nomad!
Cambodia will be the first stop in my Nomadtopia. I intend to be a ‘nomadic novelist’, travelling with a laptop, working on my novels as I go.
What does your Nomadtopia look like? What was the first inspiration or motivation that led to this vision for your life?
My Nomadtopia would consist of a home base combined with frequent trips abroad, during which time I’ll work on my novels. Ideally, I’d select a country with good Internet connections, then rent a place there for a couple of months whilst I write or edit my next novel. I’ve done the backpacker/grungy hostel scene to death, so I’d be looking to stay somewhere clean, quiet and private. My first motivation was the desperation to quit my life as an accountant, whilst still being able to travel abroad frequently. Travel and writing are the most important things in my life, so it was the urge to combine the two that got me thinking. And led me to Nomadtopia!
How else do you intend to combine your love of travel with the urge to write?
So far, my novels have all featured my home city of Bristol. I’d like future novels to be set at least partly in foreign locations, hence my plans to spend Christmas 2014 in Cambodia. I can spend time exploring a beautiful country whilst finishing off one novel and doing research for the next one. Can’t be bad!
What’s the biggest challenge in making your Nomadtopia a reality? How will you overcome that challenge?
In order to create my Nomadtopia, I need to bring in enough income from novel sales and associated income to finance a nomadic lifestyle. I’ve never had to get to grips with marketing before, so for me the challenge is to learn how to market my books effectively. I’ll be trying some new tricks this month! I’m reading lots of marketing books and following how other successful self-published authors have achieved success. It’s all a challenge, and one I’m enjoying so far!
When you think about your Nomadtopia, what are you most excited about? Most nervous/scared about?
Travelling has been a lifelong love of mine, and since childhood the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do with my life career-wise has been to write novels. To think of combining the two fills me with incredible happiness. Nothing about it scares me, as I’ve already done lots of solo travel. There is a niggle at the back of my mind, though, about whether I can combine my Nomadtopia with meeting Mr Right. Ideally, of course, he’d be a fellow nomad!
How soon do you plan to be living your Nomadtopia?
I aim to be spending Christmas 2014 abroad, with a laptop, editing and publishing my fifth novel. I came back from a year-long trip in 2011 and haven’t been out of the U.K. since then, so I’m itching to get travelling again. I’ve waited long enough to be a nomadic novelist. It’s time to start living my chosen lifestyle!
What advice do you have for others who want to create their own Nomadtopia?
I’d say get very focused on exactly how and when to achieve your dreams. Get concrete on the nitty-gritty, do some brainstorming, talk to people who are already living a nomadic lifestyle. Ask yourself how you’ll feel at the end of your life if you’ve not achieved your dreams. It’s a cliché, sure, but for me reminding myself that life is short works well.
Just for fun: Would you rather spend one month in a place you’ve been to before, or 24 hours somewhere new?
Hmm, a difficult one! A month in Bolivia or Australia will always appeal. For me, though, I love exploring new places, so I’d choose the 24-hour option. As I love cities, I’d spend a day in one I’ve not yet visited, maybe Shanghai or Los Angeles.
Thanks for sharing your story, Maggie!