It’s 1972, and San Francisco is a global mecca for hippies and radicals. In Book Two of The Jessie Morgan Series, 21-year-old Jess can’t wait to join her friend Donna there. Driving her VW down the Pacific Coast, she’s more than ready for the city’s open Bohemian vibe, bongo-mad street life, perpetual protests, and cutting-edge counterculture.
Among the characters she meets are Cat, a tall, fun-loving Sicilian, and Carl, a Harley-riding enigma with bushy red hair. As Jessie gleefully spreads her wings in the City by the Bay, she leaves her stormy past behind.
Or does she?
This novel is recommended for mature readers due to 1970s-era sex, drugs, and profanity.
Short author bio: Maggie Plummer is a multi-genre author whose latest novel, Webs in the Mist, is Book Two of her semi-autobiographical Jessie Morgan Series. Like Jessie, she lived in San Francisco during the freewheeling 1970s, riding the cable cars in raggedy bell-bottom jeans. These days the author works from her Montana home near the shores of Flathead Lake, where she loves camping with her sweet black lab, Peaches. Webs in the Mist is Maggie’s fourth published novel.
Hi Maggie, welcome to my blog, please tell us about your book.
Webs in the Mist continues Jessie Morgan’s story, covering the San Francisco years, 1972 to 1975. Like Jess, I lived there in the early ‘70s – an amazing time in that city! People from all over the world were moving there, to be part of it. On the various jobs I had there, I met people from the Philippines, Italy, and Scotland. San Francisco was still affordable then, and the various ethnic neighborhoods were still authentic and working class. I wouldn’t trade my experiences there for anything.
In this novel, the fiction takes over, compared to book one in the series, Bell-Bottom Gypsy. Webs in the Mist has a tighter plot structure and more dramatic tension. While the framework of the story is autobiographical, much of what happens in the book is pure fiction.
Tell us how you came up with the title?
This novel is about the webs we weave as we go through life – innocently or not. Webs of deception, webs of self-loathing. I decided to use San Francisco’s fog and mist as symbolic layers of confusion swirling around the webs we weave. At first, the book title was “Webs in the Fog,” but I felt that the word “fog” didn’t fit. So I changed it to “mist.”
Can you tell us what inspired you to write this book?
I’m almost 69 years old, and have grown tired of hearing myself tell my stories. Shut up and write them down, I told myself. That’s what I’m doing, beginning with Bell-Bottom Gypsy (Book 1 of this Jessie Morgan Series). In the process of creating fiction from my own stories, I had to add fictitious elements. For example, Twisty’s personality is fiction. My real boyfriend in Key West, Florida was not edgy like Twisty, although he did play guitar and sing, and was into black and white photography. I was inspired to write Webs in the Mist (Book 2 of the series) by my years of living in San Francisco. The early ‘70s were a unique time in the Bay Area, and I’m grateful to have lived there then. San Francisco back then was so amazing, I struggled as I wrote Webs in the Mist, trying to capture the magic of that time and do my experiences justice.
How much of the book is realistic?
Some of this novel’s events and characters are based on real events and people – but not all. Jessie’s life in San Francisco is based on my own time there in the ‘70s. But Webs in the Mist is less autobiographical than Bell-Bottom Gypsy. I created an enigmatic character named Carl, who is fictitious but a composite of quirky real people I’ve known. As I’ve already said, the dark aspect of the Twisty character is pure fiction. It’s fascinating, weaving my real life stories into these novels. I find myself assembling quite a few composite characters and re-arranging the timeline of real events in my life, for the sake of well-constructed fiction.
How long did it take to write your latest release?
Webs in the Mist took me a little over a year to write, and that’s a record for me. Hopefully I’m getting faster at writing and publishing novels.
Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
I don’t currently belong to a critique group, but I have in the past. I was in two separate writers’ groups, and learned a ton from the writers I met there. That’s where I met my writer friends, and I recommend it. Not only does it help to hear feedback, a group also provides important deadline pressure to produce something to bring and share. One caveat, though: if a critique group is negative, or “bitchy,” run away as fast as you can and never go back. Above all, listen to yourself. Now and then, creative writing classes and writers’ groups can include competitive, envious people who are too willing to tear you down for no good reason.
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I didn’t, but I think most writers should hire an editor. Let me explain: I’m a freelance book editor, and have a background in journalism (including proofreading and editing). I’m good at catching my own mistakes. That’s not enough, though. I have four very good advance readers who read, edit, and critique each of my manuscripts before I publish.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I began keeping a journal when I was about sixteen. I was always attracted to reading and English and languages, in school. My grandmother was a poet and journalist in the 1920s and ‘30s, in Missoula, Montana. Maybe she is the reason for my interest in writing. In the early 1980s, I went back to college and earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Oregon. After that, I was a journalist for about 25 years. But I have always wanted to write novels, because my first love is fiction.
Have you published anything else? If so can you tell us their titles.
I sure have. Webs in the Mist is my fourth published novel. I have also published Bell-Bottom Gypsy: A Jessie Morgan Novel, a wild 1970s ride that takes the reader on adventures along America’s back roads. My first novel, Spirited Away – A Novel of the Stolen Irish, paints an intimate portrait of 1650s Irish slavery in the Caribbean. It was a 2013 finalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Book Awards as well as a quarterfinalist in the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards Competition. The book has 242 Amazon reviews. Daring Passage, my second novel, tells the rest of the story begun in Spirited Away. Delighted readers call it “a stunning sequel.” I’m also the author of a nonfiction book entitled Passing It On: Voices from the Flathead Indian Reservation.
Tell us what is next for you? / What is your next project?
Since I’ve committed to writing a four-book Jessie Morgan Series, my next project is Book 3 of the series. I don’t have a title yet, but I think it will be a good book. If you read Webs in the Mist, you’ll know where the new novel is set. No spoilers here!