Hey everybody! I have just finished reading N.M. McGregor’s novel, West End Montana, the first book in a series about a spunky and independent teenager who must navigate the daily tides of life. McGregor does a wonderful job of creating a character and plot that we as readers can relate to in various ways. Today I have the pleasure of speaking to this wonderful author.
B.W. : Nadine, Montana’s character is strong-willed, independent, and curious. Do you see yourself in her? Who was your inspiration for this character?
N.M. : That is an excellent question. I think it was Jack Kerouac, that said we are whom we write. I would say that the makeup of who Montana is, how she deals with struggles and her unique system for surviving a very tough environment is very much based on my own tenacity growing up.
B.W. : Montana has a very interesting family dynamic – a whole household of brothers! Is this similar to your own family?
N.M. : I have twins, boy and girl, and two additional sons. I definitely used a lot of the twin dynamic from observing my twins, however, the characters themselves are not.
B.W. : Montana is a character that many people can relate to. Did you find yourself learning anything from her, maybe something you didn’t expect?
N.M. : yep, she has her crap together, probably more than most, and I never saw her as that until I read her story. She is very brave and she is strong and she is compassionate, those qualities in her will often make up for the lack of other qualities that society may find more meaningful.
B.W. : Where did you get the idea for West End Montana?
N.M. : I read the Outsiders when I was 14 and fell in love with the characters and the simplicity of the language. I think Susie E. Hinton is brilliant and I wanted something similar. Montana is part of a series, book one is very much done in a diary style, and we move away from that he said, she said conversational dairy style writing in book 2. In essence, the novels grow with her maturity and experience. Also, I very much wanted to honour where I come from. My tribe from Vancouver B.C. they are an awesome, crazy, eclectic crew who warms my heart. The experiences, for the most part, are true and did occur, the school was my school I was a cheerleader, etc. So much of the truth is sandwiched in a fictitious storyline.
B.W. : West End Montana is the first novel in a series. What interests you about writing a series as opposed to a standalone novel?
N.M. : I think ‘stand alone’ novels are great too. I have a novella coming out, The Moon Goddess Chronicles that is about a lovely yogi named Suri. I really believe for me the difference between a novel and a series is based on how much the character has to say. I think of how much time I invested reading the Outlander series which is great writing. Had there been one book I would have been very disappointed. I wanted to know the long story of Jaime and Claire. I believe when folks ready about Montana, they will want the same thing with her and Adam, they want to follow them to the end. That sometimes takes a few books.
B.W: What do you hope readers will gain from your work?
N.M. : I think there is a huge opportunity for women to see there are varying ways to show strength in character….I also believe that there is an opportunity for parents to learn their children and communication tools are abundant in this story. Also, no matter where you come from, or what happens to you, its okay. You’re not broken, only chipped and that adds to the flavour of who you are. A sense of unpredictable power as possessed by the main character. An unusual presence of mind in someone who isn’t a super hero but lives larger than most people. A view into a world with few rules, that change in a heartbeat. A struggle to find real connections and live with a sense of purpose and justice that comes at a cost.
B.W. What excites you most about the rest of the Montana series?
N.M. A chance to blend personal experience with fantasy. To remember people and places and say “What if…?” and fill in the blanks. It’s an escape and a journey into a world that allows me to makes sense of the one I live in.