It's been a pleasure working with author Mags Storey, and her book IF ONLY YOU KNEW has managed to touch several heartstings in this little man. I know Laura Davis has posted an interview already, but I'd like to close the week out with an interview of my own. Just as Karen Slaughter has a mystery to tell, so also does Mags Storey have a story to tell, so let's begin.
CMW: You have an interesting name. I kept thinking that IF ONLY YOU KNEW was Mag’s Story. Where did you manage to get such an interesting name? People who know me know I love interesting names.
MS: Thanks! It’s my real name! My parent’s named me Margaret, but I’ve had the nick-name Mags since I was a teenager. Storey is my husband’s last name. (Actually, I’d always felt really conflicted about changing my last name – but for a name like Storey I couldn’t resist!)
CMW: Where did you get the idea of IF ONLY YOU KNEW?
MS: A thousand different places – but the initial idea came to me in a dream actually! I dreamed a couple of scenes involving three of the main characters. Then slowly, over time, imagined and invented a story to go with them. Oddly the ‘secret’ of Nate’s accident didn’t click for me until I’d already written three drafts of the book! The characters definitely came first, and then the plot grew up around them.
CMW: Was there a specific goal you had in mind when you wrote this book, or were you just trying to write a different kind of romance novel?
MS: I think the only goal I had at the outset was to write a good story – with characters I could love and identify with. But during the rewriting process, I realized it was also really important to me that my characters remained people the reader could hopefully identify with. I wanted to make sure my characters remained “real” and that their questions, their crushes, their doubts and even their mistakes were things my readers could identify with.
CMW: Tell us something about the characters. How did they evolve and become major players in your story, beginning of course with Jo, and including Kat, Sam, Kevin, Lisa and Nate?
MS: What a huge question! I tend to say all my characters are each inspired by half-a-dozen different people.
There is a lot of me in Jo. Although on the surface we are *very* different people, her insecurities, her fears and her failures are definitely reflections of my own. And all of Jo’s klutzy moments are based on real life embarrassing moments! (Though usually well disguised!)
Kat is inspired by several ‘older sister’ type women I was able to rely on in my life. At times, in real life, we are touched by the kindness, love and generosity of people who do not share the same beliefs. I am sure the man who was attacked by robbers on the road to Jerusalem did not expect his savior to be a Samaritan.
Sam is inspired by several different people – some in big ways, some in tiny ones that I only I would notice. There is a strong Sam-streak in me as well. He is an example of someone who always has a lot to say – but tends to hide what he is really feeling and thinking. (I should also add that Sam’s hellish ex-girlfriend Traci is slightly based on me too. Or at least she is a caricature of my worst faults!)
Kevin, on the surface, is based on the kind of guy I kept finding myself attracted to as a teenager and his name comes from my very first crush. However his struggles with faith were inspired directly from the stories of friends who have touched my life. Often I borrow pieces from a lot of different people, meld them together in my imagination, and out comes a unique character who is as real to me as the people he sprung from.
Lisa, on the surface, is inspired by various female friends. But again – she is me! :) I am definitely as talkative – and have said equally thoughtless things. Although my life story is completely different from her own, I did grow up in the spotlight of being a “missionary’s daughter” and know all too well the pressure to “be perfect”.
Nate… Oh how I love Nate! But he is the hardest character to write! Ironically, a guy I once dated inspired both Kevin and Nate. In some ways, I think of them as two sides of the same coin. There is a fierce strength and honesty to Nate’s relationship with God. To me he is the strongest example of true sacrificial love. Yet God put him through a lot – and Nate is struggling with the reality of that.
CMW: What one lesson would you hope readers would take away with them when they’re done reading this story?
MS: That God loves, and uses, and works through real people! J We, as Christians, behave sometimes like we have to hide the cracks in our own lives for fear that people will reject us if they know our true selves. But God cannot use us if we are busy hiding parts of ourselves from Him. And we can’t build significant relationships when we are busy hiding part of ourselves from each other either.
CMW: As a writer, where do you get ideas for your stories?
MS: I find stories from moments in my own past (especially my own mistakes) and then find a way to retell those through fiction. Although normally by the time I have rehashed the story in fiction no one would recognize it but me. I’m also really inspired by the stories of other people and by honest song lyrics by bands like Jars of Clay. Raw, honest emotion always touches me.
CMW: Have you any more stories like this? Do you follow any of these characters into another book? Or are future books merely similar in genre?
MS: I have recently finished writing an action-packed adult suspense novel. Again, it has romance, violence, plot twists, broken people and the honest search for God in the midst of it all. I’m now currently writing my third book – but of course it is all up to the publisher! There is a sequel to If Only You Knew – but it only exists in my own mind at the moment. Let’s just say I intentionally left some loose ends at the end of the first book. We will see some of the characters struggle with the consequences of their actions in the first book, and am also planning on bringing Traci back in a big way! I just hope enough people enjoy If Only You Knew that I get the chance to delve more into my character’s struggles and relationships. There is a lot of growing certain characters still need to do and hopefully, the readers will be taken by surprise by what happens next.
CMW: Thank you for your time. We've been talking to Mags Storey, author of IF ONLY YOU KNEW. It's been great having you here. Drop by and say "Howdy!" whenever you want.
Don't forget to visit Mags' site. I visited it and although I'm not big fan of the romance genre, she has a really great site and talks about some really interesting things. She doesn't preach at anyone...except maybe herself. You'll find her site HERE
Some of the places you can purchase her book are:
Barnes & Noble
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