Monette Michaels writes futuristic and paranormal romance. PRIME IMPERATIVE, book three of the Prime Chronicles was released October 6. She is also the author of the Coven of the Wolf series writing as Rae Morgan. Monette Michaels is here to talk about her writing process and her latest release.
RK: When did you decide to become a fiction writer and what was your path to publication?
In the mid-1990s. It was an epiphany helped along by a friend who also happens to be my manicurist and whom I now call my first Muse. I was getting my weekly manicure and was telling her about an idea I had for a romantic suspense story. The first time I mentioned it, she said nothing. But after several weeks of telling her how these characters were acting in my head, she finally put down the emery board and told me– “Just write the damn book!” So I did. I’d write a chapter a week and then read it to her and anyone else in the salon that hung around to listen. If I missed a week, she got on my case.
Eventually I finished the book and it was titled VESTED INTERESTS. Then I did nothing with the book. I thought it wasn’t good enough. But I was hooked on writing – or the characters in my head got noisy enough that I had to write their stories to shut them up. So, I took a couple of writing classes. My instructor told me that writing suspense stories with legal or medical aspects came too easily to me (I’m an attorney married to a pathologist), so she told me to stretch my creativity. Thus, I plotted and wrote the first three chapters of a paranormal romantic suspense featuring a psychic heroine and villain for the class – that eventually became FATAL VISION and it was my first sale to an e-publisher in late 1998. I had tried to sell it to NY and had several editors and agents read it, but they told me while my writing was good, a paranormal romance would never sell.
Of course, paranormal romance then took off like crazy. I was ahead of the curve, but by then I was happily ensconced with my two e-publishers, Atlantic Bridge Publishing/Liquid Silver Books (my publisher since 2000) and LTD Books of Canada (which closed at the end of 2005).
RK: What appeals to you in writing the paranormal and futuristic/SF genre?
I like world-building. Love the fact that I can create characters that have extraordinary abilities and can do things a normal human can’t do. Let’s face it, who wouldn’t like to read minds, find their perfect match, or have the ability to shapeshift into a bird and take flight?
I’m also one of those people who use both sides of her brain. I majored in liberal arts (English major, minor in Philosophy) and sciences (Mathematics major). I was a geek. Some of my fondest memories during high school were Thursday nights, watching Star Trek while riding my exercise bike and balancing either my chemistry or physics book on the handlebars to study during commercials.
RK: When you create a hero and/or heroine, how do you go about it?
There is no conscious going about it for me. The characters pop into my head, fully formed like Athena springing from Zeus. I’m then dragged along for the ride and learn who they are and why they do what they’re doing right alongside them. The actual stories evolve from the characters’ goals and the conflicts that impede and impact those goals.
While my heroes and heroines are completely fictional, I do base my villains’ traits on people I know. Several of my villains are based on trial attorneys I’ve faced during my over thirty years of being an attorney. I’ve killed one guy off at least three times and he resurrects villain time and time again. There are just some character archetypes an author just can’t kill. But I keep trying.
RK: How have you, as an author, utilized the social media tools in the changing face of publishing?
I have to laugh. When I first started writing and was published in the e-publishing world, the social media were listserve groups, mostly at AOL, Compuserve, and Yahoo. And e-book authors were the only ones who used social media to promote (we also weren’t considered real authors). But the advent of FB, Twitter, and Amazon has changed all that. It was as if overnight the social media world exploded and all authors to be relevant had to be present and accounted for.
I find social media overwhelming, and, at times, confusing, but I am not a Luddite. So, I have adapted and try to keep up. I have FB pages (two, personal and author), Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and two blogs (one personal and one group). I also have an Author presence at Goodreads, Amazon, All Romance eBooks, SFR Brigade, The Romance Studio, and The Romance Reviews.
I love to interact with fans, but find that it takes a lot of time away from the actual writing of the books my fans want to see. The extreme spacing between the Prime books is a good example since I also write another series (or two or three) and have to balance the right amount of social media presence.
It’s a tricky balancing act that I am still refining. I try to post something every day on FB and Twitter. I blog two to three times a month, mostly on my group blog. I’ve been told by an author friend who has a marketing and PR background that what I was doing was not enough for my Internet presence algorithm. And we math majors are all about the numbers!
So, I now have an assistant who manages a fairly new Author FB page for me (and to which a new Twitter account is interconnected) and will handle special promotions for new book releases and the like. I try to post or share personal items each day and always write my own blogs and answer my fan e-mail. Even with an assistant, I find I can spend up to two hours a day on social media.
RK: Do you ever get writer’s block? How do you overcome it?
Not usually, but when I do, I write through it, then go back and fix and smooth away rough edges on revision. Usually, if I get blocked, it is because I didn’t set up the book correctly. Thus, most of my time writing is focused on the first 20-35K words. Once I have the characters’ goals and motivations in mind, I usually have no issues with writing the scenes that throw obstacles in their way. My biggest issue in writing is everyday life intrusions. I have lots of fully thought-out books in my head – I just need the uninterrupted time to get them on my computer hard drive.
RK: If you had a supernatural or mythological creature as a pet what would it be and why?
Hmm, never thought about that. It would have to be feline. I luuurve cats. I’d like a witch’s familiar like Pidge in my Gooden and Knight paranormal mystery series. I used my own cat Pidge (now deceased) to create Abbie’s familiar. If it could shapeshift, that would be nice, too. Why? Companionship and cuddling and mind-talking. Pidge was fairly snarky – I like to think that is how cats view humans.
Though, I do like Jayne Castle’s (Jayne Ann Krentz’s) dust bunnies – so cute and soft like a cat but far more feral. I think of her creation as a cross between a cat and a Tribble. I think I’d like a dust bunny.
RK: If you could live in a fictional SF or fantasy world, where would it be and why?
Not much into fantasy worlds. So, I’d choose the Star Trek world. I’d be mated with a Vulcan, and we’d have perfectly logical conversations during the day as we worked on various projects together (most likely, terra-forming uninhabitable planets or mediating inter-galactic disputes) and then when the doors slid closed at night, we’d heat up the sheets. I always felt that Spock had hidden depths and that I’d be just the woman to plumb them.
Stay tuned for part two, a blurb and excerpt from her latest PRIME IMPERATIVE.