Despite this being her debut novel, Margot Pickard proves that she’s right up there with the best thriller writers of today. The writing is beautiful, yet heart-wrenching. This is not a story for everyone, which is why the book’s jacket comes with a warning. It is an intense, sensitive, and emotional story of the devastating effects of child abuse, delivered in stunning and heart-tugging prose.
You’re a grandmother and yet this is your first novel. Why haven’t we heard from you before now?
I have always been fascinated by words and the power they wield, whether that be for good or otherwise. To coin a phrase you hear more often these days, ‘words matter’. For most of my working life, I was a proofreader/editor/copywriter in the marketing and communications world. It was a very intense job, so by the end of each day, I barely had enough brain cells left to decide what to make for dinner, never mind writing a novel. When I retired five years ago, I began to think more about writing ‘that book’ I had only ever talked about. It wasn’t until I fell and broke both my ankles and was confined to a wheelchair for four months that I took it as an opportunity to do just that. Red Teddy Bear Candles is the result of my physical, but thankfully not my cerebral, confinement.
The cover of your novel immediately draws the eye, but why the teddy bear candle?
For me, it was the perfect metaphor for the novel’s main character – how something so innocent in appearance could be capable of such evil. By the end of the novel, the title becomes clear to readers.
Was there a particular chapter or portion of the book you had trouble writing?
I wouldn’t say ‘trouble’ so much as I would say ‘struggle’. The first 50 pages are the toughest for most readers, but after weeks of painful editing, re-editing and then re-re-editing, I ultimately reverted to the original copy, because it sets up the rest of the novel and why the character behaves as she does. I would like to believe that I did so with as much sensitivity as possible, while still communicating the devastation inflicted on the psyche of the main character.
Did you enjoy the overall process of writing your first novel?
Absolutely! It saved me when I was in a wheelchair. I couldn’t keep myself as physically active as usual – and it was spring/summertime, which made me even more stir crazy — so I decided to exercise my mind. Once I got into it, the words just flowed. I highly recommend it, whether it be just for personal pleasure or for others to enjoy. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be the perfect therapy!
Do you have plans to write another novel?
I do! As soon as I finished Red Teddy Bear Candles, I began another psychological thriller. In the meantime, a friend approached me and asked if I thought I could write a children’s book that he could then illustrate. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I could – how does one go from writing an f-bomb-laced book to one that is suitable for children? Turns out that I could – and I did. It is a children’s picture book series of five stories so far, with illustrations in progress, entitled Mylo and the Magical Beach, which follows the summer adventures of a grandfather and grandson as they explore their local shoreline and its wildlife. The series is meant to teach children about environmental stewardship through colorful characters and playful stories, and is based on the real-life port village where I live. Next step: finding a publisher!
What would success look like to you with respect to Red Teddy Bear Candles?
The book has received incredible reviews on Goodreads and five-star ratings on Amazon, but for me, the greatest success would be having it made into a movie or a mini-series on Netflix or other streaming platforms. My husband asked me how I wrote such a story and the best way I could describe it to him was that it was like watching a movie play out in my head and then translating those images into words. So, fingers crossed!
Red Teddy Bear Candles has everything a reader of psychological thrillers looks for – menacing, chilling and gripping in equal measure. So much power packed into its 270 pages. Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo and other major retail outlets.
Buy your own copy now!