Monday, July 7, 2014

Madeleine McLaughlin, Beggar Charlie

AUTHOR: Madeleine McLaughlin
BOOK TITLE: Beggar Charlie
GENRE: Tween Adventure
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing

Please tell us about yourself.

I'm in my fifties, getting older all the time as we all are, but I think I've learned a lot from life and that I'm happier now than I was when I was younger and nothing was settled in my life. I have no pets because I live in an apartment, and it's not big enough for an animal. I have a room mate. I've known him for 35 years. He's the best guy there is. My only work is writing.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

At the moment, I'm only a part-time writer. I work a couple of hours a day. I hope someday to work full-time on my writing but at this time, it's not possible. I usually get to writing about one o'clock in the afternoon and work until three. Or until I hit 1000 words.

When and why did you begin writing?

I was in my early thirties when I began to write and the profession seemed attractive to me because it is something I could do at home. I had grown tired of going out every day to a job and dealing with bosses who had their own problems and sometimes took it out on their workers and then there was the time constraints. Having to do your shopping on Saturday because you were busy all the other days. I can shop when I want now and go out any time I feel like  it, and also, I can postpone my work hours if I need to. It's great. Besides, I felt I had something to say.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

I've never had writer's block per se but I have been stuck. What usually helps is to put everything down for a couple of weeks and do 'free thinking' where you just let ideas roam where they will. Don't direct them or anything. Just let them fly and eventually you will hit on a solution to your troubles. Another way is just to start writing until the ideas gel.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?

I'm published by MuseItUp, and I first heard about them on a website called Critique Circle. This is where aspiring writers post their work and others critique it so they can improve. I got on the brag thread and several of the writers on that thread were bragging about how their books were being published by this new site MuseItUp Publishing, so I googled it, and when I read the submission requirements I decided to send in my story which became The Mountain City Bronzes. I was ecstatic when I was accepted. The only jarring point was that my father had died just two months before I got accepted and I would have like him to know that I was going to be published. He always supported my efforts.
What are your current projects?

I'm going back to horror for my next piece. I work on it every day and hope to have it done in a couple of months. My timeline for it isn't set in stone, though, if it takes longer, it takes longer. Right now it's entitled, The Devil's Witches, although that may change.

What do you plan for the future?

I just want to keep writing and hope that I have some success with it. I hope people enjoy my productions because if nobody enjoys it, you're wasting your time.
Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.

Beggar Charlie is inspired by Victorian fiction. The orphan character and the boy's adventure tale. I wanted to try and capture the genre without copying it. I'm happy with my production and hope young people and adults will enjoy the story of Beggar Charlie, Hickory Dick and Tang as they make their way across China.

What is your experience working or being around children or teens?

They're very aware of anyone being a phony and they don't like or respect it. Plus they want to know that you like them before they commit to liking you. As far as work, I've never worked around young people but many youngsters live in my building so I'm somewhat familiar with their likes and dislikes.

 Is this your first published children’s work? What other types of writing have you done?

Beggar Charlie is actually a tween novella, and it is my first for that age group. Well, some have suggested my first book was also a young person's book because the main character is ten, but I saw it as an adult book because of the subject matter. I've also done flash fiction but nothing for youngsters in that type of writing. Adult stories there but not erotica so a mature youngster could read them.

What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?

Since it's a historical fiction, I'm hoping that they would become interested in history of other places and broaden their learning. I find that Canadians, in general, don't know much history. Not like English schoolkids who know a lot.

Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind?

I've read about China for a long time so I already had come background, but I did use Victorian travelers reports and the internet to help me. I found some good drawings of Victorian Shanghai with it's wall. Chinese cities were enclosed in a wall back then. So that helps the reader understand we're dealing with a foreign and older place. Not like what you would say when you write about modern China.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?

Good writing, good story. Sometimes the writing is not too good but the story pulls you along. It ruins it when I can predict what's going to happen, I love being surprised. And of course, I like historical writing. I love to read about other times and  how people coped.

What books have most influenced your life?

Wuthering Hearts, This Thing Of Darkness. The one by Harry Thompson, there is another one with the same title. I've recently read an extraordinary book A Curable Romantic by Joseph Skibell. These are all books that have the power to stay with me. I also like adventure books like Shooting The Boh by Tracy Jonson.


Beggar Charlie is an orphan. He is press-ganged onto a naval ship, then sold to a merchant ship where the captain treats him kindly. But he hates the open sea so when they land in China the captain allows 
him to go ashore with another boy, Hickory Dick.

While onshore, a rebellion begins, and the two boys are trapped. They see their ship burned and sink and find they must hatch a plan to survive in a strange land.


  1. Sounds like an exciting read! Good luck with it!

  2. Hi, Madeleine. Great interview. I have The Mountain City Bronzes. Haven't had a chance to read it yet.

  3. Thanks Cheryl and Susanne for stopping by.

  4. Madeleine, I wished my father could see me too, but I decided it might have been him who put me up to it because during his funeral, I was suddenly stricken with this strong need to write. All evening long, I kept saying, "I feel like writing a book." And so it happened.

    1. I guess that something opened up in you that was triggered by your father's passing. I don't think that's unusual.

  5. Madeleine, your book, Beggar Charlie, sounds very interesting. Just the fact the captain treats Charlie with kindness, makes me want to read it. Kindness can come from where you least expect it. Good luck with this and good interview!

    1. Thank you Heather for dropping by and if you read it, I hope you enjoy it.

  6. Lovely interview Madeleine and Penny, and good luck with Beggar Charlie.