An Interview With Margaret Cioffi
Margaret Cioffi has been with City Lights Press since 2017. She currently has one book released, My Summer Job, with the second book, The Disappearing Daughter, to be released June 14th. Margaret spends her free time writing, cooking, painting and hanging out with her husband and her family although not all at the same time.
City Lights Press: How did you go from advertising and marketing to novelist?
Margaret Cioffi: Writing a book was always something I wanted to do. I was used to writing 30 seconds of copy for TV and radio as well as headlines and body copy not an eighty to hundred-thousand-word book. The idea of writing a book was daunting. One day, for reasons I still don’t understand, I began to write and write and write. I have never looked back.
CLP: Who are your writing role models?
MC: P.D. James is one writer I have always loved. I enjoy detective and mysteries so her as a choice was easy. I enjoy her uncomplicated, elegant style. All of her books are beautifully developed and entertaining. There are so many writers I marvel at. Way too many to list. Writing a book is a tough thing to do so I applaud anyone who has managed it.
CLP: What is your writing routine like?
MC: I write every day. I can’t imagine not writing every day. I consider writing a job and am very delighted to have such a job.
CLP: Do you have any rituals when you first start writing a book?
MC: When I start a book I write like crazy and get all the good and bad ideas out of my system and into some sort of strange order on a page. I am so excited at the prospect of a new story that ideas and often silliness come pouring out. Once I am my finished my first draft and ready for a read through and review I see the good and the simply awful bits that I have written and do the appropriate cull. I sometimes read the really bad stuff and wonder if someone else could have written those bits. Perhaps they snuck into my home in the middle of the night and filled my pages with paragraphs of ridiculous.
CLP: Do your characters come to you in full form or in bits and pieces?
MC: All my characters are developed at the start of a new book. Some of the things they say and do perhaps not immediately but the idea of them comes right away. Comedic, silly or outrageous characters in particular come to me instantly. You have to wonder what kind of action goes on in my head? The things they get up to grow as I write. However, I must admit I am now able to see where I have gotten carried away with a character. Perhaps taken them a tad too far into the world of silly.
CLP: What are some challenges you come across when writing YA versus if you were writing for any other age group?
MC: Young Adult can be a bit challenging no doubt about it. You have to adopt a youthful voice and talk to yourself whilst writing (talking to oneself works for me but may not work for all). Keeping up with lingo, attitude and current trends is very important when writing Young Adult. You have to remember exactly what your YA days were like. The loves the hates and the depth you felt for each love and hate.
CLP: If My Summer Job was to become a movie who would you want to play the character of Siobhan Murphy?
MC: First of all, if it was to become a movie I would be totally chuffed as in over the moon with total excitement. I would most likely want a complete unknown to play Siobhan. Someone fresh and new. However, I do like Ellen Paige, although older, has a very young appearance. She can play a smart aleck, and be cheeky and funny all at once. Whomever plays Siobhan would need to look less than perfect with an overload of personality, freckles and red curly hair.
CLP: What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received?
MC: It probably wasn’t bad advice just not the right advice for me. I was advised to write an outline of the book and each chapter before beginning any book. So not me. The excitement of seeing where the story goes would disappear for me and in its place a structured story without my surprise and curiosity anywhere.
CLP: On a more positive note, what advice would you give to young writers?
MC: Read as many books as you can. Mysteries, romance, women’s books, detective stories, Young Adult, comedy books. If it has more than ten pages, read it. Not only is reading a most enjoyable and incredible thing to do but it will also help you to develop your own style. The voices and styles of other authors of will help lead you to your own voice and style.
CLP: The next Siobhan Murphy Mystery book, The Disappearing Daughter, comes out June 14th, what can readers expect from that?
MC: Siobhan is still working for Natasha, still going to school, still hanging out with Marcy. Ever since boss Natasha opened up her event planning company Siobhan has had a blast working part-time. Between dressing as Smurfette for a child’s party and serving high to a lady’s book club Siobhan loves working for Natasha. When Siobhan finds out that Natasha has an adopted daughter, Lenore who has disappeared her and Marcy swing into sleuthing action. Although Natasha hasn’t much of a relationship with her daughter, thanks to her ex-husband, she still keeps tabs on her. In The Disappearing Daughter Siobhan and Marcy help Natasha search for her daughter all over New York and all the way to London England. Yes, London! There’s all kinds of mayhem, intrigue and silly on both sides of the Atlantic.
Get your copy of My Summer Job here, and keep your eyes out for The Disappearing Daughter on June 14th!