LaToya: Hi Michelle, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Michelle: Thank you for the opportunity. I’m originally from Kennesaw, Georgia and I’m one of three girls. I’m PK, or preacher’s kid. When I was younger, I was dead set on being a singer or a backup dancer for Janet Jackson. I use to write a lot of songs, and I wanted to get those songs on the radio. I still do hope to accomplish that goal one day. My first job out of college was working for a weekly publication based out of Atlanta, from there I merged into human resources.
LaToya: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Michelle: I hope to one day make writing a full-time job. Its work, but I love it more than anything I’ve ever done. I have always been a creative type, and there’s something relaxing about putting your fingers on that keyboard and creating. I also hope to write a song and actually get it on the radio. That’s still on my bucket list.
LaToya: Which writers inspire you?
Michelle: There are so many! I’ll start with talking about the books that took me from teen fiction to adult fiction, which were Omar Tyree’s Flyy Girl and The Coldest Winter Ever by Sistah Souljah. Then I fell in love with Kimberla Lawson Roby, Jacquelin Thomas, Victoria Christopher Murray, Eric Jerome Dickey, Reshonda Tate Billingsley, I could go on. There are so many out there and I love their style of writing for different reasons. Each of them created a story that made me stare at the back cover after I had finished and just think, wow that was great and I had to run and go tell someone about it.
LaToya: What are you working on at the minute?
Michelle: I’m working on my second manuscript, which will take a look into a character from by debut novel, Truth Is. The character’s name is Simeon, and she made it very clear that she wants to tell her story on her own terms. So that’s the current project that I’m trying to focus on, and also continuing to work on promotions for The Ex Chronicles anthology, which was published under Brown Girls Books. The anthology was a blessing for me, and with that opportunity I’m now able to say I have one published book. And of course, I’m working on creating promotions for my upcoming debut Truth Is…
LaToya: What genre are your books and why?
Michelle: I would be in the contemporary fiction genre. To me contemporary fiction books are relatable and could happen in real life. I wouldn’t consider myself to be Christian fiction, but as a Christian, my books will definitely have inspirational moments and are definitely considered clean reads.
LaToya: In 10 words or less can you create a quote that describes you and your writing?
Michelle: Hmm, that’s tricky but I’ll go with “I create the characters that you love and hate.”
LaToya: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Michelle: Oh this is fun. Okay, so I would want Nicole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow) as Ansley, Tika Sumpter (The Haves and The Have Nots) as Simeon, and Robert Christopher Riley (Hit The Floor) as Davis.
LaToya: When did you decide to become a writer?
Michelle: As a kid, I was always writing songs, poems, and even did a little short story which was actually in the library at that elementary school. I wonder do they still have it that would be interesting to get to read that. It wasn’t until I finished the manuscript for Truth Is, and wrote THE END, that I really felt like wow…this could really be something.
LaToya: Do you write full-time or part-time?
Michelle: I have a full-time job and a part-time job, and write in the evenings and on weekends, when I’m not working. It’s tough to find the balance but I have to try if I want my dreams to come to fruition.
LaToya: Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Michelle: I like writing when inspiration strikes. It’s hard to just sit down and get into a groove, but when an idea hits me, I’ll take my phone and record myself talking out what’s going on or a scene. Lately evenings are when I write, but it seems like the “ah-ha” moments happen when I’m at work and I have to just jot down notes for later.
LaToya: Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
Michelle: I don’t. I just write until I start feeling like I’m forcing the words, and that’s when I tell myself to stop. At that point the characters are really telling the story and I’m trying to force it, so I take a break or stop until it’s time to start back.
LaToya: Where do your ideas come from?
Michelle: Everything, everywhere, and everyone. I get inspired from people watching. Watching the news. Listening to a song, there’s inspiration in everything.
LaToya: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
Michelle: My preference is just to see where the idea takes me and follow it until it’s complete. If it dead ends, it because clear very quickly that I need to move on from an idea.
LaToya: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Michelle: I’ve gone from writing stories in lyrics to lines in a manuscript. For me, writing a song always came pretty easy with or without a beat to inspire me. Writing lyrics was a different type of freestyle, but with this, there is a need to have more detail to really bring the reader into the story. With a song, it can be the way the words are sang that draws a person in or even if it’s a song with silly lyrics, but an amazing beat. With a story, it’s all about the words and I’m learning so much our publishers on how to become a better storyteller.
LaToya: What is the hardest thing about writing?
Michelle : The writing part. Trying to carve out time to write and writing when I feel inspired. For me, just writing because I need to versus feeling inspired, can be tricky. When something hits me creatively, I get into a groove instantly. But when I just try to open up my laptop and work on one project, I end up all over the place and starting new projects and I’m not focusing on one.
LaToya: What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Michelle: I guess what’s tricky is that Truth Is… has not been released yet and I’m anxious to see the response from readers. I’ve heard you shouldn’t read reviews or put a lot of weight on that, but as a new author I want that feedback. Truth Is… will be my first self-published manuscript, and I guess right now I’m just in a holding pattern because I keep changing the plot in this next manuscript. For now, I will just continue to work on it and push towards The End.
LaToya: What is the easiest thing about writing?
Michelle: My mind is constantly coming up with storylines, so it’s a constant brainstorming session because you can be inspired by anything, everyone, and wherever you go. Not that every idea will become a story, but it’s fun to get that character speaking to you and trying to present their situation and basically sell me on bringing their world to life.
LaToya: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Michelle: The first one, took me like a year and a half to finish writing. I was in school at the time, so I was writing in between papers and working full-time. My currently working on another manuscript, I’m curious to see how long it will take me to finish that one up. I don’t want to rush it though. I want it to be a story that people will love and share.
LaToya: Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Michelle: I hope to be an author who has put out quality work and built a following. There are so many authors out there and I pray that I will still be writing, but be a stronger and more developed writer. I don’t want to be stagnate, I want to constantly improve. I want to have some mystery novels under my belt, and I’ll still be a dreamer and wanting more for myself.
LaToya: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Michelle: Mistakes create detours in life, but those detours off lessons and opportunities to discover more about yourself. While the detour may seem inconvenient and cause frustrations at the time, the beauty is when you come out where you wanted to be. Ride it out, and don’t be scared to ask for directions if you feel lost.
LaToya: Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Michelle: I would love to meet Faith Evans. When I hear her sing, especially the rare occasion where she sings a gospel song, her voice just gives me chills. She’s led an interesting life and I’m sure even more so for the things she’s experienced that we don’t get to see. I believe she has a story that will be inspiring to hear.
LaToya: If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Michelle: I would love to say that I wrote Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree. It was the first story that I read that introduced me to stories that had characters that looked like me. Prior to that, I was still reading R.L. Stine mysteries and stuff like Sweet Valley High. Not that anything is wrong with those books but once I read Flyy Girl, I wanted more and then I read Coldest Winter Ever and it just went from there. I guess that would be the second book I would say, if I have could choose two.
LaToya: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Michelle: God’s delay is not a denial. If you want something, then go after it and continue to knock on doors and push through them. Never give up. Instead find other avenues to reach your dreams.
Connect with Michelle:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01ADNFXZ0