From time to time, I plan to use this blog to post interviews with authors. This interview with Michelle Rowen was first printed in the Toronto Romance Writers newsletter ROMantics in January, 2006 soon after Michelle’s debut novel, BITTEN & SMITTEN hit the shelves. Her second novel, ANGEL WITH ATTITUDE, is in stores July, 2006.
So, Michelle …
When did you first know you wanted to write novels?
I can pinpoint the moment I “knew” I wanted to be a novelist. It when I saw the scene in Romancing the Stone when Joan Wilder finishes her manuscript and celebrates with mini airline bottles of booze in her New York apartment surrounded by framed posters of her covers. I could see myself doing exactly what she was doing: creating characters and stories that other people could read and enjoy.
Tell us about your first sale. How long did it take? Were you agented first? What did you do to celebrate?
I made my first sale in December 2004. My agent had nine copies of my manuscript going around New York for one week and we’d already received an offer. Warner Books counter-offered. That’s as far as it went. Alas, it didn’t turn into an exciting bidding war. The first offer was for three books, but Warner’s was for two. I spent a great deal of time considering the pros and cons of either before I made my final decision…even speaking with my prospective editor on the phone. I feel that I made the right decision.
What do you think was special about BITTEN AND SMITTEN that clinched your sale?
I think everybody knows that paranormal is majorly hot right now in the book world…especially the romance world. Most have been quite serious and melodramatic. Then MaryJanice Davidson came along with her comedic Undead series and it sold like hotcakes. This was exactly the time when I was querying, so I’m sure MJD’s success had a huge hand in my book’s sale. My book also flips the vampire legend by having the vampires be the good guys and the slayers as the villains. The editors at Warner also told me that they “loved my voice.” So I think it was a mix of several elements that helped to clinch my sale.
Where do you get your inspiration? Characters first? Plot? Dreams? Divine intervention?
Yup, all that, but definitely character. Developing the character helps put everything in its proper place. If the character is “alive” enough, then she will show me the way the book should be written by knowing her motivation, needs, wants, etc.
Are you a plotter or a seat-of-your-pantser?
I am a loose plotter. I know the rough framework for my novel, the beginning, the middle, the end. I know what twists I’ll be adding. But if I get to a point where something in my outline doesn’t make sense to my character I will change it as I go.
You’re a big blogger … (no, that’s not an insult), which came first, your book or your blog?
I am a big blogger! I’ve been blogging consistently for two years now. The book and the blog began at about the same time. At the time I had a mini-website to go along with my writing aspirations. A few pages with writing samples, photos, and my new blog that was meant to chronicle my path to publication.
Chocolate or vanilla?
Chocolate. Though, the older I get the more it gives me a headache if I eat too much.
Do you write full time? What’s a normal writing day like?
No. I’m a full time graphic designer. I always say that writing is my secret identity. I think even if I was a full time writer I couldn’t possibly manage more than four hours every day or I might fizzle out of existence.
Since a normal writing day for me would be on a Saturday, I would get up at around 11 a.m. I need to sleep in. I would eat breakfast, watch an hour of television. Then I’d go upstairs to my desk, pull out my laptop computer. I’d read through the writing journal I keep alongside each project, and add to it. Then I have my little ritual of lighting two candles. When the candles are lit I know I have to do some Serious Writing. I would write till about four, and then take a break. I get back to the writing at around six and write until eleven while trying very hard to avoid the internet. A good day would net about 20 pages.
What are you reading right now?
I’m always reading a few different books. Right now I have an ARC of Julie Anne Long’s latest book BEAUTY AND THE SPY on the go, WINDFALL by Rachel Caine, and EX AND THE SINGLE GIRL by Lani Diane Rich.
What’s your #1 piece of advice for aspiring pre-pub’s?
My writing advice changes from day to day. Today, I strongly suggest writing what you love to read or your interest and passion for the story will disappear during the long road to a finished book. Loving the subject matter is a great way to hold your interest.
And the burning question on everyone’s minds …What’s your favourite drink?
No contest: A raspberry Margarita.