I’m delighted to welcome Scottish author of hot historical romances MARGUERITE KAYE to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.
Hi there, it’s a privilege to be invited onto the site. I’m looking forward to sharing some insights into my life and background, and am very happy to chat and answer further questions with anyone who stops by.
Could you tell us where you were born and what it was like growing up there?
I was born just outside Glasgow, Scotland’s industrial powerhouse and largest city, but my family moved to the west coast, to the little town of Dunoon in Argyll when I was five. The contrast was stark. Back then, Dunoon was a traditional seaside holiday resort, with lots of old-fashioned hotels and family-oriented attractions – lidos, paddling pools, beach cafes and putting greens (mini golf). Growing up there as a child was a delight, especially in summer, which were always long and hot – or so it seems in my memory.
We spent every available minute outdoors, much of it in the water. There was the local beach, a little mountain rock pool at Glen Massan where me and my siblings swam in the icy-cold spring water, and a short drive away was the wonderful beach at Ostell Bay which I used as a setting in Strangers at the Altar. As if this wasn’t idyllic enough, we also owned a holiday home a ferry ride away on the Isle of Bute where there were further stunning sands at Scalpsie and Ettrick. I’m surprised I haven’t got webbed feet! You can also perhaps understand now why the sea and beaches feature so often in my stories, from Scotland to Cornwall to Arabia.
Scalpsie Bay on Isle of Bute
With my mom at Scalpsie Bay
My childhood home on the Argyll and the Cowal peninsula embodies many of the romantic attributes people associate with Scotland – mountains, castles, lochs and glens, skirling bagpipes, kilts and Highland Games. And it’s true, we had all of that. So much so our shortbread tin overflows! However, Dunoon had a surprise up it’s sleeve. It was also, back then, home to a large US Navy submarine base. So growing up, we had American kids attend our school, and a strong American influence was exerted on the local culture. As a typical child, for culture read sweeties (or candy as we learned to refer to it) Oreos and Hershey Bars, Bazooka Joe bubblegum and peanut butter cookies, I gorged on them all when most people in Scotland had never even heard, far less sampled them.
Dunoon in Argyl where I live
As often happens in life, after many years living and working away from Argyll, things turned full circle and I moved back to my childhood home about five years ago. The navy base is gone, the town has changed enormously, and it feels like the weather has too, because it seems to never stop raining. But the scenery is still as lovely. Though I can pretty much guarantee I’ll never be hardy enough to swim in the sea again, never mind in a mountain rock pool.
How would you describe yourself – temperamental or easy-going?
I suspect I’m like most people, easy-going when things are going well but prone to a wee strop when they aren’t. Luckily any setbacks tend to be mild and almost exclusively related to my writing life. I care passionately about what I do and I’m enormously privileged and fortunate to be able to scrape a full-time living out of it, but if it’s not going well I get frustrated and very down on myself. I keep thinking that the more books I write the easier this writing lark will become, but the opposite is the case, mainly because I hate the idea of resting on my laurels. I want each book to be better and more ambitious in scope than the last one. Ever heard the phrase “setting yourself up to fail”? If the words aren’t flowing, or I need to think something though, or I’m simply trying to come to terms with the fact that what I’ve written is boring and is going to have to be deleted, then I go walking, and I find that really clears my head. I love to walk, and there are some spectacular walks with scenic views where I live. But I’m very much a fair weather rambler, and the weather in Argyll is not often fair. It’s then, when I can’t get out a walk, and I have run into a major problem with a story, that I resort to my full proof cure-all – a large vodka martini. It’s never been known to fail. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t fix the story but it certainly cures my strop!
When it comes to food do you like sweet or savoury or both?
Definitely savoury, though I have recently purchased an ice-cream maker and I’m enjoying inventing all sorts of yummy combinations, Terry’s Chocolate Orange and Cointreau being the favourite so far.
Cooking is one of the big loves of my life, and if I can cook with some of the things I grow myself in my garden, then I’m even happier. In the summer that means a LOT of salad combinations, but from having lived in Cyprus for a number of years, luckily I’ve got a lot of them in my repertoire. I love to experiment, and there’s pretty much nothing I won’t try – though some things I’ve only tried once – fried calf’s brains anyone? I may be biased, but here on the west coast, I think we have the finest seafood and shellfish in the world, and that’s my very favourite kind of food, closely followed by another local speciality, venison – though not, I hasten to add, sourced from the deer I constantly chase from the garden, who seem to think my vegetable patch is some sort of all-you-can-eat buffet.
What is your most treasured possession
You mean apart from shoes and dresses and coats and handbags and nail polish? As a lifelong voracious reader I’ve accumulated quite a library of books, both fiction and non-fiction, many of which are dear to me. I also own a collection of rare and precious vinyl from my days (surprising revelation alert) as Dunoon’s only punk rocker! However, if I was forced to choose just one thing it would be my beloved bike, because I bought it with my first every royalty check.
If you were able to afford a second home anywhere in the world where would you choose and why?
Another tricky one. If it was a city, it would have to be Paris. I know it’s a cliché, but it is for me the most romantic place in the world, and no matter how many times I’ve visited it’s never enough. Amazing history, fantastic galleries and museums, boulevards and parks you can never tire of wandering and restaurants and cafes galore. The only thing it doesn’t possess, and it’s an essential for me, is proximity to the sea. So I think I’d have to opt instead for somewhere in the south of France such as Bandol or Cassis (which has also featured in one of my books). I’d have a little house with an outside terrace in the shade for working, and in the sun for eating, and a sea view. There would be a market for shopping, seafood landed fresh every day, a choice of restaurants and bars for when I didn’t want to cook, and some amazing walks along the calanques, the huge limestone cliffs for which the area is famous. And the bonus of Nice or Marseille a short train ride away too. Now, if I can just produce a few international best-selling books, I can realise my dream.
Cassis in the South of France – who wouldn’t want to live there?
Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?
My sister would tell you it was the time we were in Central Park in New York, and I asked Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, who were out walking with their children, if they wouldn’t mind moving because they were spoiling the composition of the photo I was trying to take – I never recognise anyone, not even my own family half the time!
But I would say it has to be the time I was invited to a friend’s house for dinner. Running late, I dressed in a hurry, and pulled on the pair of trousers I’d worn the previous evening. As I was sashaying down his rather grand hallway, the underwear I had worn the day before tumbled out of my trouser leg and onto his hallway carpet. In the ensuing excruciating silence, I scooped the offending article up as effortlessly as a baseball outfielder and deposited it swiftly into my handbag. I’ll leave you to guess what happened later when I was fishing for my purse to pay the taxi driver.
Thank you for taking time out to be here today and sharing these interesting facts about yourself, Marguerite
Thank you again for having me, it’s been really great fun, even though I suspect I’ve shared more than you, or I, intended!
If you would like to find out more about Marguerite and her books, here are the links: