Writer Of The Week: Maggie Cobbett

writer of the week

This week we’re talking to Writer Of The Week Maggie Cobbett.

Maggie’s latest story, “Bangers and Cash”, is set behind the scenes on a TV show. You’ll find it in this week’s issue of “The People’s Friend”, out Wednesday.

Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind “Just The Job”.

After years of teaching modern languages in the UK and abroad, I was looking for a change of direction and signed up on impulse with a casting agency for television & film extras.

A fortnight later, I was working on “The Royal”.

This was followed by bookings on many other productions filmed in Yorkshire, including “Heartbeat”, “Touch Of Frost” and “Emmerdale”.

While never taken directly from events on set (due to confidentiality issues), elements of them and of people I’ve met have appeared in many of my stories.

“Just The Job” is no exception.

As well as short stories, you’ve also published novels, articles and poetry. What is your favourite medium to write in?

I enjoy them all, but story-telling has to be my favourite.

Of all your novels, which did you find the most challenging? Which was the most fun?

The most challenging was “Shadows Of The Past”, which traces the ongoing effects of the German occupation of France during WWII on the inhabitants of a French village.

Beginning just before the war, it spans over half a century, and took a lot of research.

The most fun to write was “Wheels on Fire”, once again set in France and based heavily on my own experience of running exchange visits for teenagers.

Extra challenges face wheelchair users, but my heroine is undaunted.

If I may add a third, “Workhouse Orphan” is the dearest to my heart, because it was inspired by stories I heard as a child about a boy sent up from London at a very tender age to be apprenticed to a Yorkshire coal miner.

He met and married one of my great-aunts, much older than he, purely in order to provide for her and her children when their father was killed during the Great War.

The book is dedicated to his memory.

How often do you write? Do you stick to a schedule?

The demands of family life (I have a learning disabled son) make a regular schedule difficult, so relatively non-productive periods are interspersed with others of frantic activity.

More of an owl than a lark, I frequently burn the midnight oil.

What are the benefits of joining a writers’ group?

Mutual support is the main one. The chance to spend time with others who “get” why you always have a pen in your hand is invaluable.

Bouncing ideas off each other and the mutual critiquing of writing at its various stages is invaluable.

I belong to two local groups that met regularly until Covid-19 struck, and several online ones.

Notepad and pencil, or laptop? Kitchen table, or study? Blank wall, or inspiring view?

I’m lucky enough to have a study of my own with a view over the garden. I write mainly onto my PC, often with a cat on my lap as I do so.

Sometimes, though, I head into the countryside with a notebook and pen, and even have a favourite bench just up the road from my home on the Fountains Abbey estate.

And a P.S. – What’s your one top tip for an aspiring Writer Of The Week?

Read as widely as you can in your chosen genre(s), and take rejection on the chin.

Successful writers are those who don’t give up.

For more from our Writer Of The Week series, click the tag below.

Take a closer look at this week’s issue of “The People’s Friend” by clicking here.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.