Nancy Badger interviewed me for her blog.
Margot Justes stopped by to talk about her book A Hotel in Venice, a romantic mystery released in August, 2015. Please tell my readers a little about your book?
Margot- I love art, and travel, and I combined my love of both and set my stories internationally. Paris was my first love, and of course the first book had to be set there. My heroine is an artist, since I possess no such talent, I live vicariously through her efforts.
In my latest release, A Hotel in Venice, Minola Grey and her fiancée Peter Riley help a friend while preparing for their wedding. In the process they discover the dark side of centuries old secrets, the hidden mysteries in the exquisite glass blowing business in Murano, and the vile depth some will go to protect those secrets.
Nancy- I have an Art degree, so your heroine intrigues me! Describe the genre of this particular title, and is it the only genre you write in?
Margot- A Hotel in Venice, part of my hotel series, is first and foremost a romantic love story, accompanied by murder and mayhem-I call them romantic mysteries.
On a dare, I also wrote a paranormal vampire love story, where Leonardo da Vinci meets master vampire, Nikolai Volkov. The Mona Lisa plays a pivotal part in Nikolai’s life in modern times. I enjoyed it so much that I’m now writing a sequel to Blood Art.
Nancy- Viewing the Mona Lisa is on my bucket list. When did you start working toward publication?
Margot- I never really did, but I always had stories in my head, and really didn’t think about writing, it was just a way to pass time. Then I had a tough day in the office, came home and tried to read-that usually relaxed me. Not that day-I sat down with pad and paper and started writing-it was truly bizarre, an unforgettable afternoon, and the birth of A Hotel in Paris. The first thing I had ever written other than office memos. I pitched it at a conference, and a small publisher took me on. My publisher and I have since parted company, and I am an indie author.
The story started out as a full mystery, until the two protagonists met. There was an instant chemical reaction, and I was lost. I had never read romance novels, and needed a quick education. I discovered RWA, and joined the local chapter, and found I really loved the genre, the happy endings-the sheer and total escape from our everyday reality.
Nancy- Do you have any rejection stories to tell?
Margot- I received the usual ‘thanks, but no thanks’, most often no response at all, but one was a hoot, a verbal rejection. At a local RWA conference, I approached an editor from a well known publisher who said she was looking for an original voice, something fresh, and I pitched my story, she listened, told me again how important an original voice was, and in the same breath, asked who do I write like? I was so taken aback, I had no immediate response, other than stand there stupefied until I finally had enough sense to thank her for her time.
Nancy- Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract?
Margot- The first thing is not to give up, accept rejection for what it is-a totally subjective, and far from perfect process. Not everyone is going to like what you write. The advice I have been given, and took to heart is not to chase the popular genres, they change with the wind. Patience and a thick skin are essential in this business.
The agents and publishers have to make money, hence the appeal of what sells well, over and over. Fortunately, the publication world is changing daily. There is a revolution going on, and a writer no longer has to have an agent, or publisher. Indie publication is a fast growing business, and many are succeeding. That being said, it is tough for an unknown writer to make a living at it, it is a slow painstaking process to develop a readership. A good editor is essential to the process, I cannot stress that enough.
Nancy- Please share three fun facts about you that most people don’t know.
1) Love to belly dance.
2) Have been known to stalk bagpipers when I hear them play.
3) I have no sense of direction, and left-right is open to interpretation.
Nancy- What’s next for you?
Margot- Hopefully, my little niche market of art and travel filled with romance and mystery will expand. I’m working on three projects, a sequel to my paranormal Blood Art, A Hotel in Barcelona-a city with glorious and whimsical architecture, and a novella set in Chicago that follows the secondary characters from A Fire Within. I’ve built a family of close friends.
Book Blurb A Hotel in Venice:
A romantic gondola ride on the Grand Canal, a shimmer reflected in the moonlit night, and the beginning of murder and mayhem for Minola Grey and Peter Riley.
Minola Grey and her fiancé Peter Riley travel to Venice for a romantic wedding surrounded by their friends. However, a romantic Grand Canal gondola ride embroils the couple in a conspiracy as mysterious and mystifying as the city itself. Here, Minola’s notoriety and powers of observation make her a target of someone’s sinister machinations. Worse, someone wants to undermine and destroy her relationship with Peter.
When an old friend asks for help finding a missing Master Glassblower and the art he’d created, Minola cannot refuse. Yet, in the thick of the investigation, she must be careful. Her very involvement may heighten the threat against her and Peter, making them the next targets. Unfortunately, Minola has never been able to resist a friend in need.
Why were Master Glassblower Julio Divini’s glass daggers stolen in the first place? What secrets have been hidden in century old traditions? And will Peter be able to share his own secrets with his future bride? Most importantly, will the wedding happen as Minola and Peter plan… Or not at all?
More about the Author
Born in Poland, Margot Justes has lived in some of the world's most wonderful places, including Israel, France and South Africa. Currently living in the East Coast, she has taken her love of art and travel and cultivated it into unique settings and stories for her writing, 2007 brought her a contract for her first novel A Hotel in Paris.
A Hotel in Bath was released February 2013, A Hotel in Venice was released
August, 2015. Margot is currently working on her fourth book in the hotel series, set in Barcelona, Spain. She is also hard at work on a sequel to Blood Art .
A Fire Within, set in Chicago was released February, 2014. The story first appeared in the Hearts and Daggers anthology. Her other projects include a novella also set in Chicago, Dazzling Diamonds, scheduled for release August 2016. She also writes travel articles and blogs.
Margot Justes is a Member of Romance Writers of America, the Chicago North RWA Chapter, as well as the Georgia Romance Writers. She is a past president of the Chicago North RWA Chapter, and the Chicago Chapter of Sisters in Crime.