Today we join the LIFE AD tour by indulging in an interview with fabulous author Michelle Reed. Let's get to know more about her and her book.
Welcome to We Do Write, Michelle. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a young adult author and a mom, and live in Wisconsin with my husband, son, and our yellow lab. My boys are my heart, and we spend a lot of time together. When I’m not writing, I’m either hanging out with my family, reading, or catching some quality couch potato time with my husband.
How long have you been writing?
I took up writing in my 30s when I penned a few underwhelming screenplays. I still have those three scripts in a box under my bed, but it has been years since I’ve looked at them. I found that the format wasn’t something I was particularly suited for, and I gave up writing for a while, After my son was born in 2008, I really felt the itch to write again, and it was then that I began to write (in fits and starts) my first novel, Life, A.D.
Tell us about LIFE AD. What’s the story about?
Life, A.D. is the story of seventeen-year-old Dez Donnelly, who dies in a car crash in the early spring before high school graduation. Her unprepared soul is transported to Atman Station, the crossroads of the afterlife. She discovers that she’s stuck in a limbo state of existence, where she’ll stay until she learns to let go of the life she no longer has, and accept her death. Dez is thrown into a harsh new existence of strict rules, relentless staff, and a group of fellow teens thrown together by fate. Atman City is a beautiful, strictly forbidden temptation lying just outside the confines of the station complex, where adventure and danger await.
Sounds great. How did the idea of the story come to you?
In 2006 I was on a flight to Los Angeles to a writer’s conference, and I was listening to m iPod. It was a perfect moment of being in the right headspace when a song I’d heard a hundred times before triggered something in me. By the time the flight landed, I had a vision of the station in my mind. The coolest thing about it is, a friend of mine had the winning bid on a charity auction and got to go hiking with the band before a show this past summer, and she was able to pass along the story of how they inspired me!
Wow, that's so cool! Tell us, do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?
I have a couple of beta readers whose feedback I trust, and they play very different, but equally important roles in my editing process. One comes at my stories from the perspective of a fellow writer, and the other reads purely as a reader. I’m so fortunate to have people I feel comfortable sharing my drafts with, even in the ugly, early stages of just-finished first drafts.
I do self-edit as well. I know it’s about the worst way to write, but I tend to go over and over something until I get it to a point where I’m happy with it before I can move on in the story. Sometimes I’ll spend days on a handful of pages, just trying to get it right.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
100% pantser. I wish I had the discipline and ability to plot, but I just follow my characters around wondering what they’ll do next. I always have a vague idea of how I want things to end, but how I’m going to get there tends to be a mystery. In Life, A.D., for example, I knew when I started how the final scene would go, but beyond that, it was pantser all the way. It sounds crazy, but I tend to have arguments with my protagonist in my head. “Why won’t you tell me what’s going on? I can’t tell your story if you don’t let me,” tends to be a common inner-dialogue. I sit back and watch it all unfold, and write down what I see.
What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
Putting aside my feelings and following the story where it goes, even where it goes somewhere dark and painful. My editor gave me a fantastic piece of advice and told me to “put on my mean hat.” While I did eventually embrace the concept, it’s always been a challenge. Making my characters struggle and hurt will always be difficult for me, no matter how comfortable I get wearing my hat.
What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?
I write on a laptop, but I ALWAYS keep close at hand a notebook and far more pens than one person could ever need. I’m constantly jotting down notes as I write: points and potential inconsistencies to review, ideas for subsequent books, etc. When I was writing Life, A.D. I was forever sketching floor plans and city layouts, despite my utter lack of drawing ability.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
I’d love to have Superman’s speed.
What's the weirdest thing you've googled?
Oh, man, the things I was looking up when writing my short story for Month9Books charity anthology Very Superstitious…I’m surprised the FBI didn’t come knocking on my door. I suppose one of the weirdest things I googled was when I was looking for very specific details of the physical effects of cobra venom.
Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: life, fractured, and zebra.
No zebras were harmed in the making of Life, A.D., but the fractured remains of a life left behind are a recurrent theme.
Do I get bonus points for using life twice?
Sure! ;) Finish this sentence: If I'm not writing, I'm probably ...
Watching Top Gear with my son.
Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.
One of the many things I’ve learned through this publishing process is just how many people it takes to make a book a reality. From the support of my husband and son to the encouragement of family and friends, the hard work and selfless dedication of my betas, and the entire publishing team, it really is a group effort. Life, A.D. doesn’t simply reflect my work. It is a collaborative effort of so many. Thank you John and Dominic for always believing in me. Thanks to my friends and my family for being so supportive, especially my mom. A big thanks goes out to Rioghnach and Crystal, my awesome beta readers. My editor Hallie was absolutely amazing, as is the entire staff at Month9Books. Thank you all.
And finally, where can people find you and your books online?
a Rafflecopter giveaway