I got the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Devon for a blog tour she is on for her story “CELESTE”. Enjoy!
1. Where did you come up with the idea for Celeste?
I picked up the idea many years ago from watching a television documentary about insanity. There was a woman on the show who saw spiders crawling on her and she would hit and kick and hurt herself to try to get the spiders off. They had her locked up for her protection, and of course, no one else saw the spiders except for her. They had her in therapy trying to help her to not see the spiders.
That got me to thinking, though: What if the thing someone saw that no one else saw wasn’t a ‘bad’ thing, necessarily, but something pleasant? Would they still then hospitalize the person and try to make them not see it? Out of that, CELESTE was born, but it became something more than that on its own.
2. What method do you use in finding suitable character names?
Ha! I ask someone else to name them. I suck at names. I’ve actually written works without a character’s name at first, until I get to know them better, and let the sort of name themselves. I’ve even had fans on Facebook suggest names to me until one just speaks to me and says, “Yes! That’s it!”
2. You create good, relatable characters. Any tricks to that you’d like to share?
Thank you. I think good fiction requires a combination of being character-drive and plot-driven. However, there’s no sense in having a good plot if there’s nothing to care about, and that’s where the characters come in. I let my characters live real lives inside my head for a long time before I write their stories.
By the time I sit down to write their stories, I know what the eat for breakfast, what side of the bed they sleep on, whether or not he sits or stands to pee in the morning, their likes or dislikes, etc. Now, the reader doesn’t need to know all those things, but when I, as the author, know all those things, I think it makes the characters more ‘real’ to the reader. I hope.
3. Of course, the questions on everyone’s mind: Is Celeste real? Were any of Kyle’s experiences after he got out of the hospital the first time real? Was Celeste there at the end? (Of course, I’m not expecting full answers, here, but I’m curious as to what you have to say.)
She was real to Kyle, and isn’t that really all that matters? Or is it? I don’t know. What do you think? After all, asking that question is pretty much what the story is all about, now isn’t it? Also, she was pretty real to me when I was writing her, so…
4. Do you have any future writing goals?
My two main goals are to land one of my A-List agents by the end of this year and to finish this novel I’m working on in the same timeframe. In the long-term, I hope to keep doing what I’m doing—living the dream—and hopefully become more and more successful at it as I go.
5. Besides Celeste, what is your favorite published work, and where can we find it?
Oh, that’s tough. I like them all for different reasons. I recently rewrote DREAM WALKING, extending it and making it a much stronger, deeper story and I really do like it a lot. THREE is pretty good if you go in for that type of thing too. It was a scene from one of my novels that got cut by me in the editing process because it didn’t belong in the book, but it’s such a good scene, I couldn’t let it just languish.
6. Is there a Celeste Part Two coming?
I honestly do not know. I’ve been asked to do a serial novel with it, and I’ve got some ideas on where to go with it and also some backstory in my head about it that I could really work with. I fear that by trying to give ‘more’ to the story, I’d take away the appeal of CELESTE. I am back and forth on it, but I am seriously considering it.
7. With all that you do, how do you find time to write?
A lot of times, I don’t. I do always try though. I made myself a deal when I nearly died, twice, last year, that I would not let a single day go by in which I didn’t write at the very least a little bit. So I’ve mostly kept that promise, though admittedly, some days it’s been one or two sentences and that’s all I could handle.
When you have the passion and the drive in you to be a writer, finding time to write really isn’t all that hard. Those who say it is hard to find time to write probably aren’t being honest with themselves, because if they really wanted to write, they’d make the time. I speak from experience. When you really want it, like I want to be a writer, nothing gets in the way of that.
8. You have a writing board/forum. Tell us a little about that.
The writing forum at AccentuateWriters.com is my favorite hangout on the internet, and I don’t say that just because I’m the owner of it. It’s a great place for writers to hang out, with all sorts of skillsets and all sorts of writers. We have self-published, content writers, freelance writers, editors, and trade-published writers too. It’s a diverse group, but everyone has one thing in common: They all love to write. Okay, maybe they have more than that in common; after all, they all support and encourage each other too.
It’s a great place to be, I think, and if what folks tell me is true, it can be a life-changing forum for writers. I strongly encourage those who are considering writing for a living to stop by and check it out. There are a lot of knowledgeable people who are happy to help new writers launch their careers.
9. How have you liked self-publishing? It’s a hot topic right now.
You know, I swore I would never self-publish, but the publishing landscape is changing so much it really is a viable option now. I like the novella format for writing—longer than a short story, so you can really go in depth like a novel, but with a faster pace. I am really liking the novella format for writing and reading, myself, but it’s hard to sell it to anyone. It’s too long for short story submission and too short for a trade publisher to consider.
Putting it up as just an ebook online or with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing lets me write in that novella market, where people are buying, but publishers are sort of neglecting. I’m enjoying the experience, but it’s a lot of work to procure your own covers, your own editing, your own formatting, your own uploading, handling your own royalties, sales, reviews, marketing, etc. It’s definitely not for everybody.
10. What is the next work your readers can look forward to? Got anything in the wings?
ABDUCTED is my next novella, which is in the final editing stages right now. It will release this month, and I’m already lining up advanced reviews of it with some of the top book bloggers, so I can’t wait to see what everyone has to say about it.
11. Who are some of your favorite authors? Do any in particular really get you going?
I don’t really have a favorite author like some people have. I will read almost anything, though, and I’ve found certain tones and voices work best for me. I like Grisham. I’ve read a lot of King’s works, and he’s a skilled storyteller, but his voice isn’t my favorite. I’ve been reading a lot of Koontz recently, because Lynn has bunches of his novels laying around. He can tell a story, but he’s a bit too ‘horror’ for me. I like Nicholas Sparks’s works and feel my novel (pending publishing), WHAT BROTHERS DO, is written in his writing style tradition.
12. Do you still freelance write or are you mostly focusing on fiction?
Not really any more. I mean, I have a few folks I used to write for holler at me once in a while and I’ll write something for them out of loyalty and to have something different to work on. But it’s really all about the fiction for me right now. The only exception to that is that I sometimes will write about alternative health stuff on my blogs and for Yahoo!, because I enjoy sharing that information.
13. What is your favorite fiction genre to write?
Suspense, most definitely. I like the thrillers, but prefer the suspenseful thriller or the psychological suspense thriller to the action thriller. I think the things in our minds are much scarier than anything out there in the world, and I like to play with the human psyche when I write more than playing with the human body.
14. Finally, do you have any advice for authors just getting into the game?
Yeah, start writing. I waited way too long to do something with my writing, and I regret it. The more writers I meet and talk to, the more who will tell me they wish they had started writing years ago. If you want to write, then do it. Don’t wait. I nearly died last year, twice, and if I had died, before I was able to finish my books, to see them published, to get my voice and stories out to the world—man, what a loss that would have been for me. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t have wasted so many years.
Secondly, just write. The best way to get good, to write well, is to practice, practice, practice. You simply have to write. Reading helps too. Read everything. But mostly, just sit down and write.