Monday, October 15, 2007

Guest Blogger: Michele Ann Young author of No Regrets

Exciting day for the drunk writers! Michele Ann Young - one of our critique partners and an excellent author - has her debut this month with NO REGRETS from Source Books. What's truly exciting about Michele's book is her twist on the expectations of the genre. Her heroine is A typical. Her hero is not what he seems. And her plot takes us out of the Regency ballrooms and into lots and lots of trouble. It's fun. It's smart. And I'm not just saying that because she's my critique partner. Or because we've had a lot of white wine together.

She's got a great take on research and what it's like to work with publisher on a new line AND we're running a contest this week. We'll randomly pick someone who comments anytime this week and that person will get some books and treats!!!! So be sure to check back!

I put Michele's feet to the fire in the following Q and A -

Okay, Michele, first of all thanks so much for joining us - and now what we're all really dying to know - What is your tipple of choice?

Chardonnay, or a malt scotch, depending on the time of day.

I understand totally. Chardonnay is really more of a breakfast drink. You are always off to exciting locales. So, what is your vacation of choice?

Hard to choose, because I do like a short break anywhere warm in the winter. But give me any place with buildings more than 200 years old and I really don't care what the weather does as long as I have a camera and no one is bugging me to hurry up. We went to Venice and Rome this past summer. It was like time travel, if one ignored all the other tourists. And the local people were so friendly and helpful.

I know you do a lot of research. What is your take on research? What has been particularly helpful to you as you research your novels? What recommendations would you make to people regarding research and using it effectively in books?

For me there are two kinds of research, the general kind, learning about the era, reading historical non fiction on one topic or another, biographies, or diaries, even other novels about the Regency -- sort of getting a feel for it. Then there is the detailed research on minutia. That happens when I hit a question about something my characters are doing or that I want them to do. For example in No Regrets they had to go from one side of the River Seine in Paris where my heroine was living, to a cafe that would have been in existence at the time located on the other bank. I had to stop writing and get that information in order for the scene to work. However, when I needed the hero to visit the British Embassy, I was quite happy simply highlight the spot and wait for the British Embassy to reply with the relevant information while I moved on with the story. It all depends on how pivotal the information is to the story. The most important thing is for your characters to move through your world in the most natural way, whether they are Regency Bucks or Navy SEALS. Don't have them wax lyrical about things they would take for granted just because you spent hours researching Chinese wallpaper, or Queen Ann furniture, or how a fire truck rolls up hoses. It is a fine line to walk, but as soon as you move from story into detailed descriptions, you become self-indulgent and risk annoying your reader. I thought the TV series Rome really put this in perspective for me. Rome is not my era, and I watched in fascination as the characters moved through their world, no one ever explaining anything, just one visual after another, but it all made sense because the characters interacted with the world as the story went along.

You've gone out on a limb with a publisher putting out a new romance line. What has been your experience with Source Books?

I am enjoying working with them very much. They are an independent publisher, but too big to be called small press. They are launching their new Casablanca romance line this fall with No Regrets and another book and have done everything possible to make these books a success. It is very much a team effort. Their marketing and promotion has been far more than I could ever have expected and they are very responsive to suggestions, comments and questions.

What made you start writing romance?

I always loved Georgette Heyer books, which are romances, and I thought I would like to try my hand at something similar. I like the relationship aspect, I like strong heroines and a bit of an adventure, and I love happy endings. So once I decided to write stories, which I sort of did by accident, I guess romance was a no-brainer.

We talk a lot about the trials and tribulations of being a writer. What is something that you feel like you struggle with in writing?

I feel I know my characters, when I am writing, and I am certainly emotionally involved with them and their story, but I think it is hard to put that kind of emotion on the page so that the reader can empathize with them too. Actually I think it is all very hard.

Favorite books?All of Georgette Heyer, Flowers of the Storm by Laura Kinsale, The Da Vinci Code, Outlander. To many to mention. I read anything and everything, including the serial box. If there are words, I will read them. All.

What actors would play your characters in No Regrets? Renee Zelwigger or maybe Drew Barrymore and Matthew Macfadyen. Or perhaps Ioan Gruffudd. Fun thinking about that one. I could spend quite a bit of time daydreaming about that.

Ha! I think Matthew Macfadyen would play a lot of your heroes. You're a little in love with that guy. Now, lastly, as a person who has been writing for a number of years and spent the last few being very close to publication (a very frustrating place to be) a lot of new writers read this blog - what would your advice be to authors who have been working hard but the rejections have been piling up?

Take a look at the market, see if you are writing to a trend that is past. Try sharpening up your voice maybe? Enter some contests and see what sort of feedback you are getting. Maybe write something new, a new book or even a new genre. Sometimes a new project will rekindle some of the joy that editing seems to drain away.If it is a book you believe in, keep sending it out. Persistence is an important ingredient of success.But do write something else while you are waiting. It seems to me from my limited experience that publishing is mostly about waiting for someone else to decide. And the only thing a writer can do while that is happening, --is write the next book.

Smart words Michele! Thanks so much for being here! Check out Michele's website for more information on her books and her fantastic newsletter.


Unknown said...

Excellent interview. Michele, I can't wait for your book to come out. It's great to see Sourcebook putting so much effort into launching this line. I wish you many happy sales!

Michele Ann Young said...

Thanks Christine, it is both exciting and nerve wracking.

Heidi the Hick said...

I like the advice about letting characters live in their (well researched by the author) world, instead of going on and explaining what that world is like. It makes sense, but I think a lot of writers would want to use that info and show off all the work they did!

Also, another reminder to use the waiting time to keep on writing-- thanks. I knew it already, but needed to hear it again!

Anonymous said...

Write the next book is great advice, but what Michele really does is write the next four books.

This woman writes amazing quality books in the time it takes normal writers to get one book done.

Makes me very jealous.. :)

Michele Ann Young said...

Sinead, you are no slouch yourself, you've got a good clutch of finished manuscripts, all really different too!
Heidi, it is very tempting to show off all the work, believe me. That is why a devote my blog to my research. lol.

Alli Sinclair said...

Thanks for the interview, ladies. Michelle, your book sounds fantastic. I've only just started getting into Georgette Heyer (a writer friend of mine, Jennifer Kloester recommended GH. BTW, Jennifer has written a book called GEORGETTE HEYER'S REGENCY WORLD, which certainly helped me get into the "regency" frame of mind!).
I loved the advice of letting characters move seemlessly through their world. It makes a lot of sense! And of course the reminder to write while you wait always helps - it's just a little hard to do sometimes! Wishing you every success with your book, Michelle!

Molly O'Keefe said...

That seemless advice really resonates, Michele. I love the Outlander books - but man I do a lot of skimming because she's giving us way too much info.

Michele Ann Young said...

Easier said than done, of course, but it is good to keep it in mind and to test scenes against it once in a while. It should even work for fantasies, but more difficult there, I believe.
Alli, enjoy GH, she is in a class all of her own.
Thanks for the chance to chat with you all!

Tanya Freedman said...

Wow, ladies, this was a great inspiration to have so many of my TRW friends, whose books I LOVE give us all this wonderful information. We all need to rememember that there are so many ups and downs in the world of writing and publishing! Thanks, proud to know you, ladies!

J.K. Coi said...

Michelle, fabulous interview. Congratulations on the release, I can't wait to read it! As someone who is deathly afraid of research, I may never write a historical, and I commend you that you have obviously learned well how to your make the research work for you, so that it becomes a backdrop to the story and not a wall of information in front of it.

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