Hi, readers! I am pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. We’re doing something a little different. This is our eighteenth official author interview on this romance blog! I know in the past, we did character interviews then switched over to the author’s take on it, but this approach is a bit unusual.
We have a real treat for you, readers. Today we get to speak one-on-one with a talented author. Please join me in welcoming Maggie Blackbird to ILRB! 😀
Marie Lavender: Hello, Maggie. Please have a seat.
Author Maggie Blackbird: Hi, Marie!
Marie: Hey, such a pleasure to have you here again!
I’m going to throw in some standard questions first.
Obviously, we know your occupation as an author, but some writers have other jobs as well. Do you have another occupation? Do you believe you’re any good at it? Do you like what you do?
I know I’m overloading you with questions, but we’re really interested in finding out more about you…
Maggie: I am a full-time author. I write contemporary and historical romance about Canada’s Indigenous People. I sure hope I’m good at it! (Laughs.) And yes, I very much enjoy what I’m doing.
So, tell us…what is your family like?
Maggie: My family is hubby and two Alaskan Malamutes aka our fur babies. We live a quiet life out in the country. Hubby and I are both from the rez, but we love where we live, although most of our families still live on the reservation.
Marie: Wonderful! I have fur babies too. 😉
Let’s try something else, okay?
If it doesn’t bother you at all, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?
Maggie: My childhood home was a typical rez house. Box-shaped. Three bedrooms. An oil stove. All the houses from this era look the same because that’s how Indian Reserves built homes. I won’t get into the “why” of it because I’d have to give a lengthy explanation on how housing works on-reserve and its challenges. But I can tell you the hero Jude talks about it in Sanctified, book three in the Matawapit Family Series.
Do you have any hobbies, Maggie? What do you enjoy doing?
Maggie: I enjoy walking, exercising, golfing, fishing, and boating. As of late, I haven’t done much golfing, fishing, or boating because of my new job.
Marie: True. Being an author often keeps us busy…
And what is your greatest dream?
Maggie: To leave this earth, knowing that I tried my best to make this world a better place. Corny? Yes. But it’s what I strive for.
Marie: Nice! Sounds like a plan. 🙂
Let’s try another question.
What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Maggie: The kind of person who makes people walk away feeling better about themselves after they’ve talked to me. There is nothing stopping me. Many times I pull it off, and other times I fail.
Marie: All right.
So…who was your first love?
Maggie: You’re asking me to reach waaaay back. He was a local boy from the rez. A very nice boy. I think he’s living in one of the prairie provinces now.
Marie: Aww! ♥
With the next question, I hope I’m not prying too much, but we are curious…
What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Maggie: Losing my niece.
Marie: Oh, no! I’m so sorry. 😥
Let’s move on to another topic, shall we?
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Maggie: My dream was to play music for a living. I have two right hands (am a leftie) when it comes to music. (Chuckles.) So instead of playing music, I appreciate it in every aspect of my life. I cannot function without music. I love love love it.
Marie: Can’t blame you there! I think I’d be lost without music too. 😉
Well, let’s try something else.
Who is your role model, Maggie?
Maggie: Mother Theresa.
Marie: All right.
Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Maggie: It’s looking at it from another perspective. There are people out there who probably dislike me and put on a show to pretend they like me. So yes, there are a few people I do dislike, but tolerance and patience are a must. The earth doesn’t revolve around me, I revolve around the earth, so it’s all about how I handle those who aren’t on my favorite list. (Laughs.) It’s a matter of trying to do my best to show them kindness, tolerance, and patience.
Marie: What an incredibly inspiring outlook to have. How admirable! ♥
Let’s do something different now.
What is your deepest desire?
Maggie: Burnt popcorn? (Giggles.) What can I say? I love popcorn.
Marie: (Laughs.) Why not? 😉
And what is your greatest fear?
Maggie: My fears aren’t what they used to be. As I get older, they’ve lessened. I do sleep with the light off now, but the dark was a biggie for me to conquer. I can’t say that I’m totally over that fear, either.
Marie: It is odd sometimes to be in the dark, especially when things around you don’t sound quite right…it can freak you out! 😕
Let’s switch gears for a second.
If you were trapped on a deserted island, what five essentials would you need with you? They don’t have to be practical.
Maggie: Essentials. Hmm. My dogs. My husband. Water. Food. And dog food.
Okay, readers, let’s get the author’s perspective on one of her characters.
We’ve heard rumors about the hero of your story, Jude Matawapit. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about him?
Maggie: Jude is thirty-eight. Freshly divorced. A father of two children. And the new principal at the school in Ottertail Lake, his home reserve where his parents and younger brother reside. He’s starting over by taking on a new job and new community since he resided in Thunder Bay his whole life.
Marie: And what are Jude’s greatest strengths?
Maggie: Jude is a natural leader. He doesn’t panic, and steps in to take charge if everything goes pear-shaped. He’s not a quitter, but a fighter.
Marie: Cool! 😉
Any weaknesses of which we should be aware?
Maggie: Jude is on the bull-headed side, he can be a little too controlling, and he isn’t the greatest of listeners. He could try be a bit more sympathetic to the plight of others.
Marie: (Nods.) Okay.
Let’s try something fun, shall we?
What are Jude’s favorite foods?
Maggie: Jude enjoys prime rib (rare), a stuffed baked potato, and a side of greens. He’s a meat, potatoes, and veggie sort of guy.
How about another question?
What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Maggie: That he can show sympathy, even empathy. It’s a matter of the right person showing him what lies hidden, such as Raven, his leading lady in the novel.
Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Maggie: I think they’ll like Jude. My crit partner really liked him. He called Jude “a really great guy.” I think they’ll like what a great father he is, how he tried to be a good husband in his doomed marriage, and the understanding he shows Raven when they begin dating. How he doesn’t judge Raven even though her past is very shady, and respects her recovery from drug addiction.
Marie: Sounds like quite a guy! 😀
Now that we have a real taste of Jude, we have a few questions for you as well as the author, about the writing process of your book.
What first gave you the idea for Sanctified?
Maggie: It’s part of a series. Jude’s the eldest, followed by Bridget, and then Emery. Sanctified is the third book. Blessed, Emery’s book, started as a short story and expanded into a full novel. Jude makes an appearance in Blessed, and I wanted to expand on his character. He was living a great life: six-figure job with a great pension and room for promotion, a stunning wife who also has a great job, two beautiful children, active in his community, lots of volunteer work, his dream home. I wanted everything to fall apart for him and see how he’d handle it.
Marie: Looks like you have a good sense of the series!
It’s fascinating how the muse works, huh? 😀
Let’s try something else.
What is your writing style like, Maggie? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Maggie: I’m a planster — (laughs) — part panster and part plotter. When I start a story, I always have a logline and blurb. I also know my beginning, middle, and ending, but I don’t outline it. I let the characters lead the story while I’m fast-drafting.
Marie: So, I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Sanctified or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Maggie: I had no problems getting Sanctified published because I already published two books in the series with eXtasy Books. I just finished the fourth book in the series and subbed it to them on Friday, September 13, 2019. And at the time I’m typing this post (Sept. 17th,, by the way), I’m drafting two short stories for eXtasy Books’ Christmas and American Thanksgiving call-outs.
As for doing something different with the series, I’m famous for saying, “It is what it is.” But I do think I’d try to get at least the first draft for each story done before tackling self-edits. There was a big lag between Blessed’s release (July 2018) and the second book in the series Redeemed (April 2019). I wouldn’t want the releases to be that far apart again.
Marie: Sounds like a plan! 😀
(Laughs.) We are twins, I swear. My fiance gets annoyed every time I say, “It is what it is.” He thinks I’m such a stoic.
It was a total pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog! And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Sanctified appears to be… ♥
Title: Sanctified (book three of Matawapit Family Series)
Genre: Multicultural Romance
Publication date: September 27, 2019
Here is the blurb:
In the midst of a battle for leadership at their Ojibway community, two enemies of opposing families fall in love…
After suffering a humiliating divorce, infuriated Catholic Jude Matawapit bolts to his family’s Ojibway community to begin a new job — but finds himself thrown into a battle for chief as his brother-in-law’s campaign manager. The radical Kabatay clan, with their extreme ideas about traditional Ojibway life, will stop at nothing to claim the leadership position and rid the reserve of Western culture and its religion once and for all, which threatens not only the non-traditional people of the community, but Jude’s chance at a brand-new life he’s creating for his children.
Recovering addict Raven Kabatay will do anything to win the respect and trust of her older siblings and mother after falling deep into drug addiction that brought shame and anger to her family. Not only does she have the opportunity to redeem herself by becoming her brother’s campaign manager for chief — if he wins, she’ll have the reserve’s backing to purchase the gold-mine diner where she works, finally making something of herself. But falling in love with the family’s sworn enemy — the deacon’s eldest son, Jude — will not just betray the Kabatay clan. It could destroy everything Raven believes in and has worked so hard for.
Maggie is giving us a peek at the story…
Frost nipped at Raven’s exposed skin, the kind of frost that burned. At least there wasn’t a wind chill, or minus thirty-seven would become minus forty-seven. She scurried from her sister’s truck she’d parked, dashed up the shoveled walkway, and into the school.
All was quiet, classes for the kids having finished for the day. The scent of pine cleaner permeated the squeaky-clean hallway. She hurried to the adult education classroom. Since her vehicle was the lone truck in the lot, she might be the only one here. Even the new principal wasn’t present, unless he’d foolishly walked over.
She entered the classroom to Jude Matawapit sitting at the teacher’s desk, hunched over, writing on some paper.
“I was beginning to wonder if any of my students would arrive.” His strong fingers gripped a pen. His jet-black hair with blue undertones was slicked off his face and tapered to a short-trimmed back. Dark irises richer than a moonless night, so dark his lashes gave the illusion of a generous coating of mascara and liner-rimmed eyes, stared at her.
Not gawked, not ogled, not leered like every other guy did. He simply stared. His plump lips didn’t form into a flirty smile, either.
Jude stood. A white dress shirt hugged his pumped biceps and shoulders that formed into the size of baseballs. A black belt wrapped his ultra-slim waist. And a gold clip kept his line-striped burgundy tie secure. “Have a seat. It looks to be you and me tonight.”
Raven inched up the aisle. Her boldness remained at the door, where she’d probably dropped her tongue. She clutched her books and sat at the desk directly in front of him.
“I’ve been reviewing your file.” He closed the folder, and just like Deacon Matawapit, crossed his strong arms. They even shared the same rich baritone — direct and full of authority. “You were an A-plus student, but as of late you haven’t been handing in assignments. Once you get behind, it’s difficult to catch up. I’ve seen this happen too many times during my years educating others. When a student falls behind, most give up.”
A flame of annoyance flickered in Raven’s stomach. Never mind Jude Matawapit’s handsome white teeth, flawless red-toned brown skin, or run-her-nails-along-his-muscles build. Who was he to talk down to her like a kid? He was worse than her siblings and Mom.
Raven stared up at the white stucco ceiling. “I’ve been extremely busy. Not all of us make big money and do what we please. I’ve been pulling extra shifts at the diner.”
“Did you review your last three assignments, then?” Jude stuck the end of the pen into his mouth.
There was something about the way his red lips and white teeth nibbled on the cap. And she hadn’t witnessed a man in his late thirties gnawing on one like a hungry beaver.
Jude popped the pen cap between his rich lips, as if sucking on a lollipop, and released it. When he rounded the desk, his thick fingers glided across the top. He stopped in the middle, the fingers of his left hand still lingering on the desk’s surface. He rested his buttocks against the edge while crossing his sturdy thighs.
His stance, a get-down-to-business sort of manner, should have intimidated Raven but failed. His brows-bunched-together stare and drawn-in cheeks seemed to coax her to lean in closer and rest her elbow on top of her own desk. She set her chin on her knuckles. “I’m completing them here tonight.”
“Do you have any questions?”
She shook her head, still holding his stare. “I guess I should get comfy, huh?”
“Remove my toque and coat.” She sat back, hands brushing the edge of her desk and arms spread wide.
Jude shouldn’t care if Raven was about to undress. He’d seen many students remove their outerwear in class. But the down parka on Raven didn’t swallow her ballerina-lithe body like a garbage bag. The coat was the fashionable snug style, silhouetting her supple form. Long strands of black hair lay against her sharper-than-razors cheekbones.
Her perfectly applied winged eyeliner gave her slanted black eyes a mysterious cat-shape appeal. Rich burgundy lipstick, matching the shade of his tie, plumped her lips to a sensual pout, or maybe her mouth naturally retained a pucker. As she stood to drape the parka over the chair, she gave him a nice view of the skinny jeans painted on her slender thighs and gently rounded butt.
She whipped her head around, peeking at him through the fringe of her super-long lashes.
Heat climbed onto Jude’s face. He shoved the pen back into his mouth and chewed on the cap. Adult or not, she was a student — his student. Maintaining a professional distance was a must.
Raven’s moist-looking mouth tugged at the corners. A hint of triumph flashed in her eyes. Well, well, she’d stolen a look purposely, expecting him to check her out. A hot coal flared in Jude’s chest. He rounded his desk, making sure to move slowly, heels clicking one after the other on the floor. She’d get the hint he meant business.
“Why don’t you catch up on your lessons? There’s no point in reviewing the next one until you’ve finished those.” He used his pen to point in her direction. Traditionalist or not, she could suck up his supposed rudeness. In his world, pointing told another a man wasn’t screwing around or willing to play games.
Raven sat. She flipped open her textbook and binder.
“Which lesson are you working on?”
“History. A pity. We are the First People, but it’s all about…those who sailed over here.” Her husky voice, deeper than most women’s, with a light scratch to the tone, was sensual nails grazing Jude’s skin.
He gripped and re-gripped the pen. “At my former school, we were building the curriculum into the current courses.”
“Did you teach high school or elementary? You taught for the Catholic Board of Education, didn’t you?”
“I see.” Raven lowered her head. Her black hair veiled her face. Not narrow, like Clayton’s hawkish looks. The hollowed cheeks, delicate long nose, and tapering chin complemented Raven’s smoky eyes and wide mouth. A traditional diamond-shaped face, like the Indigenous people of the old days.
No wonder she’d stolen a glimpse at Jude when she’d removed her parka. Raven was probably used to men gawking at her wherever she went. If the fashion designers ever took a chance on hiring Indigenous women to model, they’d be scrambling to photograph Raven.
Why was he still thinking about her anyway? This was ridiculous.
Jude plopped in the chair. If she didn’t require assistance on her lessons, she should’ve finished her assignments at home. All Raven had done was make him stay late.
Ooh…love the tension! Can’t wait to find out what happens next. 😀
Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/4AxXYo
Publisher link: https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2663-7-sanctified/
Add it to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48160324-sanctified
What are people saying about Sanctified?
“Familial & Communal Drama At Its Finest… Chocked with intense, multilayered plot lines, entrenching enough to hook any reader. From spirituality to taboo relationships, substance abuse to criminal activity, these books detail the raw realities of those living in the Ojibway community. In SANCTIFIED, the third installment of the series, Maggie does not disappoint as she masterfully creates yet another character’s struggle to earn familial redemption, career success, and most importantly, love. Raven Kabaray, the book’s female protagonist, once succumbed to a debilitating drug addiction. Now that she’s recovered, she wants nothing more than to earn back the trust and respect of her family.
Matters grow complicated, however, when Raven unwittingly falls in love with Jude Matawapit, whose family’s Westernized beliefs completely clash with the strict, traditional ideals of the Kabaray family. As these two entities fight for communal leadership in the midst of their opposing political views, a relationship between Raven and Jude (who’s dealing with his own fair share of personal issues and struggles) would be deemed highly forbidden. And therein lies Raven’s dilemma; give up genuine love for the sake of her family and career, give up those things for the sake of love, or figure out a way to find common ground amongst both families in order to have it all…
SANCTIFIED is an emotional, fulfilling, well-rounded saga built on unforgettable characters whose complicated circumstances will leave readers riveted as they discover the life-altering outcomes/consequences each character faces.” – Denise W., Amazon and Goodreads
Wow! We’ll be sure to get a copy of this multicultural romance! ♥♥♥
An Ojibway from Northwestern Ontario, Maggie resides in the country with her husband and their fur babies, two beautiful Alaskan Malamutes. When she’s not writing, she can be found pulling weeds in the flower beds, mowing the huge lawn, walking the Mals deep in the bush, teeing up a ball at the golf course, fishing in the boat for walleye, or sitting on the deck at her sister’s house, making more wonderful memories with the people she loves most.
And, if you want to know how to connect with the fascinating Maggie Blackbird, here are some author links…
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Maggie-Blackbird/e/B07KQP1FFG
Once again, I want to thank Maggie Blackbird, the brilliant author of this multicultural romance, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! Readers, check out her work! ♥