Author Interview with Michelle ADinterviewed on Sep 16, 2018 California
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Michelle grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago until she was 12 and then moved to Southern California. After completing her master’s degree in comparative literature and English at the University of California, she taught English composition, rhetoric, and literature at the college level for over 20 years. She has been writing since she was 4, published her first poem at age 17, and for the last ten years, her writing focused on curriculum for middle school, high school, and college writing classes.
Q. What was the motivation behind writing a Scottish Romance novel for a debut and how did it all start?
I usually read horror, but when I was about 14 I picked up a contemporary romance on a whim. I was hooked on romance, and became an avid fan of Scottish romance once I discovered the genre. However, I didn't always believe some of the dialogue (which is very important to me), or the behaviors of the characters. Since I was already a writer, I though 'I can do this,' and I hit the keyboard running when I was about 25. Plus, I have always wanted to travel to Scotland - I hope that is in my future - and writing Scottish Romance gives me the perfect excuse to go!
Q. You have a taught English composition and literature for over 20 years, did it influence your writing anyhow?
I like to think it did. I was able to pick up on techniques and read so many great writers, all of which can really help refine writing. It also forces me to examine how I write when I engage with students and critique their writing. I have to ask myself, 'am I practicing what I preach?' on a daily basis.
Q. What is the central theme of 'To Dance in the Glen'? Do you have any favourite lines from the book that you want to quote here?
The theme in much of my writing is accepting one's self. Too often in the world today we feel we have to cover or hide part of who we are. Books, especially romance, are escapist, and I would hope that readers feel like they can be more of themselves as they read of my characters doing the same. Another theme - tenacity - I think comes through in a strong way. The idea that we need to keep trying, that if plan A doesn't work, we can try plan B, then plan C. . . is a huge part of my life, and I think that comes through in my books.
Q. Would you like to introduce us to the protagonists and their character from 'To Dance in the Glen'?
Meg is the main protagonist. She enjoys simplicity in life - nature, her family, animals - and she isn't really looking for anything large or great in her life. When she does encounter largess, it takes her by surprise and she almost rejects it, either because she prefers the simple life or she thinks the largess is above her station. I think she is a likeable and believable character - after all, I like and believe her!
Q. Apart from 'Romance' books, what other genres would you like to write or read?
I am a HUGE fan of horror literature, but I don't think I am a horror writer - I like to write lighter fare, or the tragic in the realm of the human condition. I am working on a piece of contemporary fiction loosely based off actual events that transpired within our extended family in a fostering situation. The whole situation is one of those 'I could not make this up if I tried' moments, and so the art will reflect life in this case.
Q. Talk to us about your growing years and your home. How did they influence your writing?
My mother, for certain. She read to me so much when I was small that I was reading by age 3. She made sure I had plenty of books in the house and bought boxes of books at any garage sale she found. Some of the books were far above what I should have been reading at certain ages (that is probably why I read my first steamy romance at age 14!). She always encouraged me in my writing. To her, it was never a hobby or a whim - she saw it as a calling.
Q. What role has your family played in your writing career?
We are a family of readers - my kids and I read all the time. They have also always seen Mommie as a writer - writing curriculum, texts, poems, articles, so they have helped me have the 'I am an author' for a long time. The downside is they don't see this book as a big deal. To them, it's just another thing Mommie wrote. Sigh again.
Q. Tell us some interesting incidents from your life working as a college professor.
Sometimes students ask the craziest questions. I tell them, 'There are no bad question,' but sometimes there are crazy ones. Once we were discussing the logical fallacy of begging the question, and in reference to drinking a lot of milk will make you as strong as a superhero, the prompt asked: 'What is the implied question?' A student responded, 'Which superhero do you want to be?' I had to leave the room I was laughing so hard.
Q. How has your publishing experience been? Why did you choose to self publish?
We often think that professors can just publish anything they want within traditional publication venues, but that is not accurate. For my fiction, I tried some traditional publishing houses, and I received my share of rejection notices. I compare indie books to indie films - and if done well, both can be pretty amazing. I have read some rocking indie writers, and I heard some not so great things about traditional publishing, so I decided to give indie a whirl.
Q. Tell us about the books that you are currently writing and their progress in the 'The Glen Highland Romance' series.
Book 2 of the Glen series is almost halfway done with regards to the writing process. It takes a not-so-likable character from book one and tells that character's story. I hope to finish it and have it shelved for resting (like bread -- gotta let it rise!) by mid to late October. While it rests/goes out for editing, I will dive into book 3 - which will focus on a not-so-likeable character from book 2. If a book 4 will make an appearance, I do not know at this time. I am also working on a book with my hubby who started a paranormal type story, and we will see where that goes. I also have some notes and other ideas for paranormal/romance type writing. So many ideas, not enough time. Sigh.
Q. If your writing could change anything in the world, then what would you write?
One primary facet of my English courses is the idea of our own set expectations and perspectives, then challenging those perspectives. Maybe not with my Glen series, but perhaps with some other books I have in mind, my writing could help people realize how much better life could be if we set aside those expectations.
Q. What is your writing process, a typical writing day routine?
This is horrible - I don't have a routine (yet) - I have such a frenzied schedule, I catch my writing time whenever I can. Some weeks I have time to write a lot; some weeks I have papers to grade and classes to prep for, and I don't write as much.
Q. Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? Tell us about it
Oh my, I do! I was about 9. I created this little book about my youngest sister Leslie who was not quite 2. She was such a funny little kid that I drew pictures of her, added text, then stapled and glued the book so it even had a spine. She could not say the word 'more' - it came out 'moy' so I titled the book 'Moy or Leslie!'
Q. What book marketing techniques do you think would work for you?
I spent the last 5 months just getting my name out there as a writer in general - promoting my writing and essay texts. I try to update my blog, Facebook, and instagram regularly, but I really suck at it! I did join some great facebook writing groups and romance book groups, where I got lots of great ideas and advice. Right now I am trying to get my newletter going, and do other promotions, like this one on QWERTYTHOUGHTS!
Q. What do you think makes a book sell, or makes a reader buy it?
I honestly have no idea. We always hear "don't judge a book by its cover" but then that is how most Amazon readers catch the next novel. I thing a strong central story is key no matter the genre. I have read books where the authors try to cram everything they can think of into the first chapter - but most readers like slow burn. Not a lot for some people, but a story must be built. Who is my hero/heroine? What is their conflict? Why is the villain a villain? How can the hero succeed? Will he (or her)? If a writer can do that well, I think readers will buy.
Q. What’s the most moving or affecting thing a reader (of anything that you have written) has said to you?
I read a portion of 'To Dance in the Glen' to a class once (we were comparing tone in a love scene, a death scene, and a fight scene), and when I was done with what I wrote (I didn't tell them I wrote it), several students were amazed and wanted more. A few of the students kept asking about the third excerpt (mine), because 'that was the most amazing scene' - at this point the book was shelved for a while, so that response encouraged me and stuck with me all these years.
Q. What are your favourite three books, and why?
Only three? How about three from the GIGANTIC list of faves? The Stand by Stephen King; Outlander by Diana Gabaldon; Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
Q. Who are your favourite three authors and what do you like the most about them?
See above! Horror - Romance - the human condition, respectively. They are each nearly perfect masters of their crafts. The characters, scenes, and dialogue are believable, even when they are not.
Q. What challenges do you think are faced by writers, what’s the worst thing about the book industry according to you?
I think there is a lot of writing out there, and writers can get lost trying to navigate what works best. Self marketing is so difficult, and I seems counter productive because writers feel that time could be better spent writing. And since so many writers are trying to earn some money - a lot of that money goes back into trying to market and promote, so it can seem like a no-win situation. And as a result, some really good books (I've read some of those books!) are overlooked.
Q. Apart from writing, what goals do you want to achieve in life?
I would love to travel more, complete another half marathon, fly in a hot air balloon, watch all my kids graduate from college, and sleep in more.
Q. What message do you want to share with budding writers?
Keep at it. Remember, when plan A doesn't work, there are 25 other letters of the alphabet.