We all know that Concord is a hot spot for the arts. But did you know that people all over the world have gotten word, too?
Well, at least one person anyway – British author Virginia Macgregor.
Macgregor, a novelist and English teacher, moved to Concord last July after her husband, Hugh, accepted a job as the theater director at St. Paul’s School. But the move across the pond didn’t interrupt her writing one bit, and she even brought her work with her, so to speak.
Her latest book – and her first young-adult novel – Wishbones was just released at Gibson’s Bookstore last week – the official United States launch of the book. We didn’t have time to attend the event, but we were able to catch up with Macgregor to find out a little about her journey both as a writer and as a newcomer to America.
The first thing we wanted to know was how the Oxford, England, native ended up here in Concord – how do people over there even know about us, anyway?
“We had our honeymoon here,” Macgregor said, “and we love the landscape and the people. It resonates with us artistically and geographically.”
She and Hugh spent their honeymoon touring Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, and the experience really stuck with them. That’s why this area was on their radar when Hugh was looking for jobs.
But as for Virginia’s job, she hasn’t skipped a beat despite being pretty busy – she has a 3-year-old and now a 7-week-old, who we heard having a ball in the background of our phone interview.
Wishbones, the novel just released at Gibson’s, was written while she was still in the U.K., but in the short time she’s been here she’s already written two more books, which are now in the editing phase.
She said Concord has been a great place to live and work.
“I feel like it’s the best of England and the best of America all in one,” she said. “People say the East Coast is not that friendly, but compared to English people I found it very friendly.”
So take that, rest of the world!
This city has provided her plenty of creative ideas and pleasant venues to work on her writing, she said.
“I spend quite a lot of time writing at Live Juice – my friend owns that – and people are always curious when they see me there every day,” she said. “So that’s been really, really lovely to feel like a local.”
Asked whether her upcoming books might feature some scenery Concord folks would recognize (her previous works have been set in England), Macgregor said she doesn’t exactly set her stories in real places.
“What I tend to do in my fiction, the places and settings I use are sort of fictionalized,” she said. “But some of the details – it all feeds in: overheard conversations, things I saw out the window on Main Street, names I pick out that I see on buildings.”
Wishbones marks the first young-adult novel for Macgregor, and it’s an audience the English teacher has always wanted to write for. Plenty of young adults showed up to the event at Gibson’s, she said.
“It was lovely, it was really well-attended. It was wonderful to see some young people there asking some searching questions.”
Wishbones and her first novel, What Milo Saw, are on the shelves at Gibson’s, and there are even signed copies of Wishbones available. By 2018, the rest of her books should also be available in the U.S. – they’re mostly just in the U.K. for now, or on Amazon.
The two books she’s written since being here – one for adults, one for young adults – will both be released here and should be available by 2018 as well. Her 2016 novel The Return of Norah Wells should be available this fall.
In the meantime, check out Wishbones or go to Macgregor’s website at virginiamacgregor.com. She said she’s also happy to hold workshops for local schools, so get in touch if you’re interested.