Maggie Ritchie, 50, is a freelance journalist who lives in Glasgow with her husband Mike and their nine-year-old son, Adam.
Paris Kiss is her first novel, published by Saraband. The busy mum graduated with distinction from the University of Glasgow¹s MLitt in Creative Writing, when she won the 2012 Curtis Brown Prize for Paris Kiss and was shortlisted for the Sceptre Prize.
The novel, a fictionalised biography of the French artist Camille Claudel who had a scandalous affair with Rodin, was longlisted for the Mslexia First Novel Competition in 2014.
Maggie is currently working on her second novel, set in post-colonial Southern Africa.
We caught up with the talented mum and asked her how she juggles family life with being a successful writer and now author. And don’t worry, we asked her what her secret to looking good was too.
1. Where did the idea come from?
I was on honeymoon in Paris with my husband Mike in 1999 when I came across the story of the tragic love affair between the sculptor Auguste Rodin and his young protégée and muse Camille Claudel. I was enthralled, but it wasn¹t until 10 years later that I started writing Paris Kiss.
2. Why have you always wanted to be an author?
I¹ve dreamed of being an author since I was six years old. An avid reader, I love telling stories and used to make them up for my younger sister when we were little. I became a journalist because I¹m interested in people and their stories. Writing a novel seemed a natural progression I knew I would do it one day.
3. What does it feel like to take on a huge task like that and have a young son to look after?
When Adam was three he¹s nine now I went back to university to do a creative writing MA, part-time over two years, which is when I started writing Paris Kiss. Adam was just starting nursery and the separation for three evenings a week was tough on both of us, but my husband really stepped up and made it possible. He also looked after our son on Saturdays to allow me to go to the library to write. It took a while, but I got there!
4. What would you say to other mums who want to achieve things like this? Where do they start?
Go for it! Writing a novel is a marathon, so you have to do it in manageable chunks. Begin with an idea for a story that you can¹t wait to tell and build from there. Sit down somewhere quiet for a few hours whenever you can and say you¹re going to dedicate that time to writing. You¹ll be amazed at what you achieve once you get going.
5. What¹s your beauty regime? You look amazing for 50.
Thank you! My mum has always looked younger than her years so I I¹ve been blessed with her genes. I have fair, Celtic skin so I wear sun block and a hat and try to stay in the shade in the summer. I had bad skin as a teenager so I¹ve always been careful to take off make-up and cleanse, tone and moisturise with a hydrating cream. I use a gentle exfoliator twice a week, don¹t use soap and have a mini-facial every two months. I¹m also very content with my home life, love my work, eat healthily, try to get enough sleep and don¹t smoke I think that all helps.
6. What makes you happy?
Spending time at home in Glasgow with my husband and our son. I love sitting over a home-cooked meal with a chilled glass of wine and chatting with them. My husband still makes me laugh 20 years after I met him. But I also love having time alone to write uninterrupted, it¹s such a treat. I think all mums need some time where they can pursue their own interests.
7. What beauty item could you not live without?
A hydrating moisturiser. My skin would be like a riverbed in a drought without it. I¹ve tried loads over the years and when I can afford it I buy one from the Phytomer range.
8. Give us a mantra that you live by?
Be brave and follow your heart.
Paris Kiss by Maggie Ritchie (Saraband £8.99) is out now.