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Thursday, 5 November 2020





The Pivot Questionnaire comprises 10 questions. I have seen it used on the television show Inside The Actor's Studio, presented by James Lipton. Apparently Proust was the original inspiration. The modern questions originated on a French TV show called Bouillon de Culture, hosted by Bernard Pivot. I have expanded the questions to 12, and left room at the end for encouraging words.

This run of A Dozen Questions is by invitation only - 12 writers (of many) I admire.

Margaret‘s first poetry collection ‘Fording The Stream’ was published Sept 2017 under the pen name Jessica De Guyat. She was shortlisted for the Bangor Literary Festival Journal and Crowvus poetry prizes in 2018 and her poems have appeared online, in journals and anthologies, most recently Hedgehog Poetry Press, The Blue Nib and Impspired. May 2020 saw the publication of her memoir of childhood ‘The Road to Cleethorpes Pier,’ a fusion of prose, poetry and old photographs documenting growing up by the seaside in the 1940s/50s. In July 2020 she won Hedgehog Press’ Full Fat collection competition and ‘Where Flora Sings’, is published November 2020. Margaret leads a women’s poetry group in Nottinghamshire and performs regularly at open mic events in person and online.

(Margaret's book covers appear at the end.)


Twitter: @RoyallMargaret

Instagram: meggiepoet


Facebook author page:


  Margaret Royall's Dozen Answers, 

and some encouraging words in conclusion.


Q: What is your favourite word? 


A: At the moment it’s psithurism = the sound of the wind in the trees and rustling of leaves. This will sit alongside petrichor in my poetry, an apt companion. I love it when I come across new words to inspire my writing. I have just got over ‘chthonic’, my previous favourite. 


Q: What is your least favourite word?


There are actually several, but basically my least favourite is the misuse of the word ‘of’ - bad grammar, so ‘should of,’ ‘off of, ‘could of’ etc  ( instead of ‘have’) . I let out a scream when I hear it! I know, it’s a bit of a phobia with me. I’m a grammar fanatic, can’t help it.


Q: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? 


A: There is so much I could mention here : Walking in nature, celebrating the quarter point festivals in the Celtic calendar, hearing uplifting music (classical and contemporary), going to the ballet (I danced from age 5 to 13), watching young animals at play, my cat asleep with paws over her nose, painting in Crete, writing on the Hebridean island of Iona (on annual writing retreats), reading inspiring poetry from poets who are masters of their craft. Being privileged to hear the amazing Kanneh-Mason offspring playing at lunchtime concerts in Southwell Minster, close to where I live. We are privileged to hear them for free, as they are a Nottinghamshire family. I especially love listening to Sheku play the cello, as I learned to play it at school and played in youth orchestras and in a German town orchestra in Speyer when I  was living there as part of my university degree.


Q: What turns you off? 


A: Bad manners, social injustice, people who ‘know best’ and don’t hesitate to give an unsolicited opinion, prejudice in all its forms, especially racial prejudice, homophobia (my elder son and daughter are gay and I have lived through so much of their suffering in earlier years). I simply can’t understand how any decent parent can reject a child on issues of sexual orientation, career choice, interracial marriage etc.


Q: What is your favourite song? 


A: Which to pick? I have so many! On a classical note it has to be Morten Lauridsen’s ‘O Magnum Mysterium’. It makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I sang this in Durham Cathedral once with the choir I was in at the time. Oh, those clashing chords, unexpected yet perfect. This is frequently sung by King’s College choir on Christmas Eve in their annual concert ‘Carols from Kings’. If you’ve never heard it please take  a listen:

For more popular music it’s a Latin number, at the moment playing  ‘Smooth’ on repeat with Santana and Rob Thomas singing. Makes me want to dance, sends chills down my spine. Brilliant guitar and vocals Link:

Also many 60s pop songs. I was at university in the 60s and there was a juke box in the Dunelm coffee bar. I remember fondly such great numbers as The Tremeloes, Gerry & The Pacemakers, TheBeatles, The Stones, The Kinks, Swinging Blue Jeans…….. and many more, all down memory lane now of course.


Q: What is your favourite film? 


A: ‘La Vie en Rose’, portrait of Edith Piaf and ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’, not least because it’s one of my daughter’s favourite films and we have to watch it every year at Christmas! It’s a classic.



Q: What is your favourite curse word?


A: I don’t swear very often. It was severely punished in childhood so that’s stayed with me. Pathetically I tend to come out with ‘sugar!’ or if really annoyed, ‘shit and sugar’



Q: What sound or noise do you love? 


A: Rain pattering against the window at night when I’m cosy in bed, my cat purring on my lap, waves crashing on the seashore, a classical guitar playing, leaves rustling down the lane, a church organist rehearsing when you have stepped inside the building unnoticed.


Q: What sound or noise do you hate? 


A:  The dust cart banging and clattering at 6 am, bottles shattering when thrown into a bottle bank, heavy metal music exceeding the decibel limit, Donald Trump having a rant! 


Q: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? 


A: I’ve always fantasised about being a jazz/blues singer and singing with a band such cool songs as ‘The Girl From Ipanema’! Not sure where that comes from. I was trained as a solo singer in my youth but didn’t pursue it, as nerves always got the better of me. I like the sexy image of crooning on stage in a slinky dress, exuding charisma. Not really me though! My alter ego perhaps?!



Q: What profession would you not like to do? 

A: Factory work at a conveyor belt. I have done it as a student job, working night shift at Bird’s Eye Factory in Grimsby, picking out yellow peas and cockroaches from the moving belt, so I know how boring and soul-destroying that is!


Q: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? 


A: Mm, perhaps words of praise for the things I’ve  (hopefully) got right in my life, to be acknowledged for being a kind and supportive human being, as those are qualities I strive to achieve.


Q: Any words of encouragement for writers and writing?


A: Yes, definitely. I’d say give it a go, don’t be afraid of rejection, don’t try to model yourself on writers who you think are better than you but BE YOURSELF. Believe in yourself and write in your own unique voice. Practice makes perfect so keep doing it every day and don’t be afraid to shine, to gracefully accept praise where due and give a shout out to new writers who need encouragement. 


Thank you for Margaret your dozen answers

and words of encouragement.  

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